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Translational Neuroscience Research Fellowship Awards 2011-2012

27 August 2011

Neuroscience meets real-life medicine thanks to new funding scheme. Four Translational Neuroscience Research Fellowships were awarded to: Professor Richard Apps, Dr Emma Robinson (both based in the School of Physiology and Pharmacology), Dr Ute Leonards and Professor Marcus Munafo (both in the School of Experimental Psychology).

Our new Translational Neuroscience Research Fellowships (TNRFs) enable neuroscientists from Bristol Neuroscience to spend time with doctors and patients in the clinic.  Here they can observe medical practice, establish contacts, and make informed future plans for their research. It’s a crucial but often insurmountable first step towards translational clinical neuroscience.

Childhood brain cancer, aggressive behaviour, psychiatric disorders and brain injury are the conditions being tackled by the award winners: Professor Richard Apps, Dr Emma Robinson (both based in the School of Physiology and Pharmacology), Dr Ute Leonards and Professor Marcus Munafo (both in the School of Experimental Psychology).  (See more details below.)

The late Cassie Squance is ultimately the one to thank for this innovative research initiative. Her legacy, donated through the University Centenary Campaign, directed ~£30,000 specifically towards neuroscience research and enabled BN to partner with the IAS to launch the TNRF scheme.

With such a massive potential for making real-life impact, it’s hoped that further sources of funding can be raised to allow the TNRF scheme to continue for many years ahead and facilitate more vital interaction between hospital bedside and laboratory bench.

2011/12 TNRFs: projects awarded

Professor Richard Apps and Mr Richard Edwards

Cerebellar tumours are the second most common cancer in children.  Richard Apps, an expert in cerebellar physiology, is using the TNRF to spend time with Richard Edwards and other paediatric neurosurgeons in the Institute for Clinical Neurosciences at Frenchay Hospital.

Professor Marcus Munafo and Dr Julian Walker

Marcus Munafo has established how someone’s perception of another’s emotional state can be altered through training.  He is working with forensic clinical psychologists at the Fromeside Medium Secure Unit to assess if such training is applicable to aggressive behaviour in a psychopathological context.

Dr Emma Robinson and colleagues in Psychiatry and Experimental Psychology

By observing patients in a clinical setting, Emma Robinson is looking to see how her research into memory translates into real life.  She has found emotions change the way that experiences are remembered and will use the TNRF to investigate how this relates to the treatment of clinical depression.

Dr Ute Leonards and colleagues at Frenchay Hospital and the Bristol Royal Infirmary

Cognitive, attention -related disorders are highly common in children who have suffered head injury, for example from a road accident, and often last years after the incident took place.   Ute Leonards is seeing the effects first hand by spending time with clinical specialists as they care for patients suffering from traumatic brain injury.

Bristol Neuroscience (BN) was founded by the University of Bristol in 2003 to ensure that all neuroscientists in Bristol could benefit from the wide cross-disciplinary expertise and facilities in the University and its partner hospitals. Amongst its initiatives, BN promotes interdisciplinary dialogue and research; identifies and supports new research opportunities and enables the large local neuroscience community to make strategic plans for the future.

For further details, please see the University News item, Neuroscience meets real-life medicine.

If you are interested to apply to the TNRF 2012/13 scheme, please see the TNRF application process.