Physiology News Magazine

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Launching The Society’s new Themes

News and Views

Launching The Society’s new Themes

News and Views

Susan Deuchars
University of Leeds, UK


The Society has been internationally recognised over many years for its diverse conferences that bring together researchers from across the world to celebrate the top findings in physiology research.

With our focus on activities around diversity and inclusivity, we have ensured that our conferences foster new opportunities for early career scientists to be involved. Our Annual Conference runs parallel sessions of symposia, organised into Themes that enable scientists to focus more on specific hot topics in their fields. We have also reintroduced many more oral communications that are delivered in Theme sessions. In poster sessions focused around a Theme, individuals can disseminate their research to experts in their field and have in-depth discussions that may open new avenues for future collaborations. We are also introducing poster prizes within Themes for early career scientists – these will be judged by experts in each Theme.

Each of these Themes is associated with a number of Specialities, thus enabling scientists to align their abstracts or presentations according to both a Theme and Speciality. The matrix at the bottom of the page gives an idea of how this flexibility works. As you can see, all of the Specialities are associated with at least one Theme and each Theme has at least seven Specialities to draw from.

Following feedback from Members of The Society and Theme Leads, a decision has been made to slightly alter the Themes and look at the affiliation of the different Specialities. This should resolve issues with researchers feeling somewhat isolated in their Themes or wanting to be more involved with a number of Themes. Please choose your Speciality and Theme on the Member Portal; these can be as extensive as you wish. You can be involved with any activity of The Society, regardless of Theme or Speciality. We have a fantastic group of Theme Leads, who are chosen due to their passion for physiology and their wish to provide relevant, topical symposia and meetings that suit their Themes. They are working hard in tandem with the Conferences Committee to shape future events and would love to hear from you!

We want to foster the values of local support and interactions with well-matched physiologists and would like you to have a sense of belonging within the wider, diverse physiology community. Therefore, we would like you to be more aware of who your Theme Leads are and what activities are associated with different Themes.

We have taken the opportunity to announce new Theme Leads here in Physiology News, and on the new website we have a more detailed introduction to each Theme. This should help when it comes to choosing a Theme or Speciality for your abstract. I am particularly grateful for the input from all the Theme Leads, their support of meetings and endless enthusiasm.

Epithelia and Membrane Transport (EMT): Mike Althaus Lecturer in Animal Physiology, Newcastle University

Becoming a Theme Lead in Epithelia and Membrane Transport (EMT) is a great chance to shape our vibrant EMT research community and I am particularly enthusiastic to promote EMT to the next generation of physiologists.

Epithelia and Membrane Transport (EMT): Morag Mansley Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh

The EMT Theme has become a very important community and part of my research life: from the many scientific discussions over coffee (or a glass of wine) and the exciting collaborations that have developed, to the ongoing friendships I have made. I was delighted to take on the role of Theme Lead for the EMT Theme. I am enthusiastic to contribute to this community which I was welcomed into more than a decade ago, to ensure it flourishes, and to help promote it to our next generation of EMT scientists.

Human, Environmental and Exercise Physiology: Gladys Onambele-Pearson Deputy Director Musculoskeletal Science, Manchester Metropolitan University

Human, Environmental, and Exercise Physiology is a very dynamic area of research and practice that links to clinical areas through sports medicine. It also leads our understanding of physical fitness and what factors govern it so that we can optimise habitual physical functioning and health through the lifespan. It is this wide range of often directly applicable findings to the end-users that attracted me to the topic. I remain as enthusiastic as I ever was from the beginning of my research journey, more than 15 years ago.

Human, Environmental and Exercise Physiology: Kostas Tsintzas Associate Professor of Human Physiology, University of Nottingham

My involvement with the Human, Environmental and Exercise Theme allows me to champion the importance of human physiology, interact with other Theme Leads and colleagues throughout the country, help out with activities at Annual Conferences, and have input in the future direction of the Theme. Co-organising the highly successful “Experimental Models of Physiology” conference in Exeter in 2018 was a particular highlight.

Cardiac and Vascular Physiology: Sarah Calaghan Associate Professor of Cardiac Physiology, University of Leeds

I’ve benefited from the activities of The Physiological Society, particularly the scientific meetings, since I was an early career scientist and I’m keen to contribute to The Society by acting as Theme Lead for Cardiac and Vascular Physiology.

Cardiac and Vascular Physiology: Chris Garland Professor of Vascular Pharmacology, University of Oxford

As a long-term member of The Society, I was eager to take on the role of Theme Lead for Cardiac and Vascular Physiology, which has been my area of interest since my PhD studies in London.

Cardiac and Vascular Physiology: Andrew James Senior Lecturer, University of Bristol

The Cardiac and Vascular Theme encompasses all aspects of this vast research field from cellular to organ level and the integration of functions to produce appropriate cardiovascular responses. With increasing access to gene editing and super-resolution imaging technologies, now is an exciting time to be a physiologist.

Endocrinology: Paul Le Tissier Senior Lecturer, University of Edinburgh

My principal research interest looks at how the different cell populations of the anterior pituitary gland function to maintain and alter their output throughout life and how their dysregulation leads to pathology. I use an integrated approach, from the level of individual cells and their organisation to their secretory activity and its effect on whole animal physiology. Currently my research focuses on three main areas: (1) plasticity and organisation; (2) monitoring secretion; and (3) pathology.

Endocrinology: Tim Wells Senior Lecturer, Cardiff University

I’m a metabolic neuroendocrinologist in the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University. I work at the interface between nutrition, hormones, neuroscience, physiology and connective tissue biology. Since joining Cardiff University, I’ve focused on generating novel rat models of altered neuroendocrine function, and on the activity of the gastric hormone, ghrelin.

Metabolic Physiology: Paul Meakin Research Fellow, University of Leeds

I am indebted to the support that The Physiological Society has provided me by funding conference and training travel grants, as well as undergraduate studentships. These funds at key stages in my research career have proved vital in developing my skills 
(both research and supervisory) in order to allow me to establish my own research group. I am grateful for the opportunity to give back to The Society by becoming a Theme Lead for Metabolic Physiology. I plan to promote and integrate metabolic physiology with the other Themes within The Society.

Metabolic Physiology: Andrew Murray Reader in Metabolic Physiology, University of Cambridge

I am a Reader in Metabolic Physiology at the University of Cambridge, where my group works on integrative mitochondrial physiology. We have broad interests in the factors that influence mitochondrial respiratory function in health and disease, and the impact this has in turn on the function of the cell, tissue, organ and organism. A major interest of ours lies in the response of mitochondria to hypoxia, and we have enjoyed many years of collaboration with the Xtreme Everest group investigating the metabolic response to high altitude and in disease states where hypoxia is an underlying factor.

Neuroscience: Mark Dallas Associate Professor in Cellular Neuroscience, University of Reading

My research focuses on understanding cellular mechanisms of disease with a focus on neurodegeneration and the role glial cells play in disease processes. I wished to become Neuroscience Theme Lead for The Physiological Society to represent the neuroscience community and also to gain an insight into the world-leading research carried out by The Physiological Society’s Members outside my area of expertise.

Neuroscience: Talitha Kerrigan Honorary Research Fellow, University of Exeter

I am an applied neurophysiologist with a special interest in stem cell biology, in particular, the use of induced pluripotent stem cells as a model of neurodegenerative diseases. My research focuses on the role of neuroglia and neuroinflammation in diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. I am also interested in the development of new technologies in stem cell research.

Neuroscience: David Menassa Research Fellow, University of Southampton

As Theme Lead, I wanted to get involved in helping develop Topic Meetings that would allow cross-over between various fields to support neurophysiological research. Another reason for my interest was that I wanted to reach out to other Members under my Theme as well as funders and the public by writing short pieces on topical issues in neuroscience.

Education & Teaching: Sheila Amici-Dargan Senior Lecturer, Cardiff University

I wanted to be an Education and Teaching Theme Lead to help The Physiological Society organise events and workshops to promote the sharing of best practice in teaching, learning and educational research.

Education & Teaching: Nicholas Freestone Associate Professor, Kingston University

Since becoming a Theme Lead I have gained enormously from exposure to the best practices in the learning and teaching milieu in the UK and further afield. I have striven to raise the profile of learning and teaching as a pathway for career progression and promotion. The best thing about being a Theme Lead is the help and support one can provide to others in their day-to-day practice. I enjoy serving as a guide in the often bewildering and foreign world of pedagogy for those interested in examining more closely the learning and teaching parts of their academic lives.

Education & Teaching: Derek Scott Senior Lecturer, University of Aberdeen

I wanted to become a Theme Lead to help colleagues share the excellent things they are doing to improve physiology teaching and to help them in their career progression. I also want to demonstrate how The Society’s Members are improving the standard of physiological education globally.

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