Introducing our budding researchers – Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Four budding researchers are expanding their knowledge of clinical research thanks to funding from the National Institute for Health and Care Research Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR BRC).

The NIHR BRC Newcastle is a partnership between Newcastle Hospitals and Newcastle University. It is the only BRC out of 20 centres in the country to focus on ageing and long-term conditions.

The funding will support the interns – Charlotte, Ashley, Karen, and Stephanie – to run a six-month research project focussed on ageing-related disease.  

The interns will also shadow staff involved in research, have access to training opportunities, and gain insight into the research ethics process.

This image shows the interns - Charlotte, Ashley, Karen and Stephanie
L-R: Charlotte Buckland, Ashley Shield, Karen Hartley , and Stephanie Quinn

Meet the interns

Charlotte Buckland – clinical specialist physiotherapist (frailty)

Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass and strength and is common in older people.  The condition affects gait, balance, and ability to perform daily tasks. Charlotte’s research aims to gather evidence that could help to identify patients who are at risk of developing sarcopenia before they are discharged from hospital.

Charlotte hopes her research could help clinicians to effectively plan a patient’s rehabilitation and maintain their independence outside of hospital.

Ashley Shield – nurse specialist

As a nurse, Ashley is interested in how we can improve older peoples’ nutrition to manage chronic long-term conditions.

A recent report found that some older adults exceed daily recommendations of saturated fat, sugar, and salt. Current methods such as the body mass index (BMI) focusses on weight change but not on proactive nutritional intake.

Ashley’s research hopes to determine the best way for nurses to assess nutritional intake in older people and how to encourage patients to make positive changes to their diet.  

Karen Hartley – paediatric pharmacist for rheumatology

Karen has a keen interest in research and how it informs and shapes clinical service. Currently working in paediatric rheumatology, Karen’s research will focus on whether BMI is linked to the severity of a patient’s rheumatology condition.

Karen will also assess the effects rheumatology medication has on the body, and whether BMI has any bearing on the effectiveness of the medication.

Stephanie Quinn – clinical scientist

Stephanie’s research focusses on how the light sensitive layer at the back of the eye, the retina, changes in patients with late-onset retinal degeneration (L-ORD). L-ORD is an untreatable condition that leads to loss of vision, but there is a lack of research to understand how certain characteristics can determine the severity of the disease.

Stephanie is motivated by the impact research can have on improving quality of life and her career aspirations are to contribute to changing the lives of patients living with retinal conditions.

Martin Dixon, chief operating officer of the NIHR Newcastle BRC, said: 

“At the NIHR Newcastle BRC we are committed to developing a skilled, interdisciplinary academic workforce capable of tackling the increasing health and societal challenges of ageing and multiple long-term conditions.

“These internships are just one of the ways in which we are providing bespoke opportunities at all levels of the career pathway in order to build a flourishing interdisciplinary pipeline of translational researchers for the future and we’re delighted to have such an exciting cohort”.

A photo of Linda Tinkler,  lead for nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals (NMAHPs) research at Newcastle Hospitals.
Linda Tinkler

Linda Tinkler, lead for nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals (NMAHPs) research at Newcastle Hospitals, said:

“We are incredibly grateful for this funding, which will help the individual interns to gain valuable experience and knowledge of research across the trust.

“Internship programmes provide vital opportunities to develop research and also benefit patients by giving them access to new treatments and the latest innovations.  

“The BRC funding for these internships enables colleagues in healthcare science and pharmacy to access an established and successful model of research capacity building.

“These internships reflect Newcastle Hospitals’ wider ambition to embed a culture of research across the trust.”

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