Welcoming our new President and Trustees

President Bridget Lumb 

President Bridget LumbWe are pleased to announce the appointment of Bridget Lumb as the new President of The Physiological Society, succeeding Professor David Eisner.

Bridget, of the Department of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience at University of Bristol, is the first woman to ever hold the role of President of The Society and is a former Meetings Secretary. 

Professor Bridget Lumb was born in 1955, was educated at Manchester High School for Girls and graduated with a BSc (1978) and PhD (1982) from the University of Birmingham. She presented her first communication to the Society in 1983 and has been a Member of the Society since 1990.

Bridget’s experience of Higher Education started as a technician in the Physiology Department at Nottingham University in the 1970s and latterly at Bristol where she has worked in the Department of Physiology (now Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience) for the last 29 years, starting as a postdoctoral worker.

Bridget’s experience spans a broad academic arena, such as membership of editorial boards (including deputy chair of Experimental Physiology) and grant awarding bodies and council membership of The Physiological Society. As Meetings Secretary, she was involved in strategic development of The Society and, additionally, set the agenda and organised scientific meetings in the UK and at many international venues. She was also a member and chaired several of the Society’s committees, including its Education Committee and the Animal Legislation and Welfare Committee.

New Trustees

We are delighted to welcome three new Trustees: Raheela Khan, David Paterson and Matt Taylor. David Paterson has also been appointed as The Society’s President-elect. Read about their research and what inspired them to pursue physiology below:

Raheela Khan

University of Nottingham

What has been / was your most important scientific finding, or your most surprising finding?

As a postdoc in Cambridge, I was seeking to understand the molecular physiology of human pregnancy specifically the triggers for transforming the uterus to an excitable state to enable delivery. The most surprising discovery was of a change in calcium-sensitivity of a large-conductance potassium channel. This channel is highly expressed in most types of smooth muscle and responds to acute increases in intracellular calcium levels. Our observation identifying a switch in calcium-sensing in uterine muscle came about at the time others reported the discovery of beta-subunits as modulators of this channel.  The research direction of my lab is still very much in the realm of membrane physiology as my fascination with ion channels continues, focusing on links with inflammation. 

What is your favorite aspect of your research/teaching/outreach work/anything else in your work?

At the University of Nottingham, I teach undergraduate reproductive physiology to students on the BSc (Hons) Medical Physiology and Therapeutics and Graduate Entry Medicine. I consider my role to be one of enthusing young scientists and sharing with them the underpinnings of physiology. My teaching is very much informed by research and I try to encourage students to learn to value research. The Society’s summer studentships are a great way for students to experience working in a lab and gain some insight into what a research career entails.  Equally vital is taking our message on the benefits of research and participating in it to patients and public. I have been fortunate enough to work on patient-centred research for most of my academic career. Through outreach activities, we have been able to share our research findings directly with patients. Working at this interface in being able to discuss novel solutions for improving healthcare is just one of the highlights of a research career. 

Why did you become a physiologist? What drew you to this field?

I became a physiologist due to the intrigue of biology.  As a child, one of my earliest memories is the wonder on observing the detailed, ordered structure within a piece of fruit. The sheer joy and diversity of seeing physiology in action from working on the neuromuscular junction of the cockroach during my PhD to the great steps made in understanding  genomic regulation of function, for molecules thought to be ‘junk’ continues to excite me.

If you were going to be marooned on a Desert Island, what luxury would you like to take with you and why? 

It would have to be an ipad or mobile phone.  I’m assuming I’d have 4G to keep me connected to the world of politics, science preferably via Twitter.

David Paterson

University of Oxford

What has been / was your most important scientific finding, or your most surprising finding?

I guess this will be for others to judge. But I am most excited by our recent work that is concerned with understanding the molecular mechanisms of abnormal autonomic neurotransmission in cardiovascular disease. We have recently identified key transcripts (RNAseq) that have been validated against human neural tissue (qPCR). In studies using isolated neurons and cardiac neuronal co-cultures, we have identified a key role for cyclic nucleotide-coupled calcium dysregulation of exocytosis in disease using a combination of FRET/Ca imaging, patch clamp, neurochemistry and viral vector gene transfer to drive phenotypes. The foundations of this work were developed by several talented doctoral students in the late 1990s where we were one of the first groups in the world to successfully gene transfer nitric oxide synthases (NOS) into cardiac autonomic neurones and change neurotransmission.  

What is your favourite aspect of your research/teaching/outreach work/anything else in your work?

Meeting interesting people in science and other walks of life. Being Editor-in-Chief of Experimental Physiology and then The Journal of Physiology exposed me to a lot of world-wide physiology. It is always exciting performing on this stage. Scientists are a bit like failed rock stars. They compose their single (paper), and then head out on tour to promote the work to gain applause (certainly not money). Then they return home and start another composition. Indeed, there are few jobs in the world where you can essentially decide what you want to do, how you wish to do it, and who you wish to work with. Academic freedom is such a civilised concept and is critical for discovery.  Sometimes your work takes you into arenas that challenge you in different ways e.g. when having to explain what you do to the public. I certainly found this out when we contributed in 2012 to the BBC4 documentary ‘Of Hearts and Minds: What makes us Human’. The response I got from random people was really interesting.

Why did you become a physiologist? What drew you to this field?

By accident, really. I was an okay athlete at school and university and a pretty unremarkable undergraduate given outside interests.  But I remember taking a course in anatomy at the medical school in Otago and being exposed to physiology which I thought was really interesting.  So I got the bug then and somehow ended up in Oxford in the mid 80's on a scholarship via Western Australia, and the rest is history. In those days I use to love mountains and was inspired by Sir Edmund Hillary and others, so the control of breathing I found fascinating, and still do. 

Who inspired or what inspired you to follow this career path?

I was fortunate to meet John Coote (fellow adventurer) in a bar in Kathmandu in 1984 (he had just been appointed Bowman Professor at Birmingham) and kindly invited me to visit and stay with him and his family. John convinced me that Oxford would be a great choice given all the eminent respiratory physiologists there.

It was a thrill being accepted into New College where J.B.S. Haldane had been, and meeting Dan Cunningham and Bob Torrance. Dan introduced me to Roger Bannister so this sparked my interest in autonomic neuroscience. I also had a wonderful experience as a student in Oxford working on chemoreceptors with Piers Nye, and in human physiology with Ebbe Petersen and Dan Cunningham, and then Peter Robbins. Being exposed to the living history of physiology was formative. So meeting John Eccles, James Watson, Hermann Rahn, David H. Hubel, Joseph Barcroft, Carlos Monge and others was certainly a thrill.  

Sadly I never met W.B. Cannon and Wallace Fenn, superheroes of mine in physiology as they had such insight. I was also fortunate to meet John West and spend time in his lab at UCSD as a post doc. The Californian way of life was very agreeable.  

What excites you about your work?

Watching young, talented students grow and flourish into outstanding young scientists and doctors, and growing the next generation. I still teach, and having the opportunity to update (with Neil Herring) Rod Levick's textbook gave me a real appreciation of the time it takes to give back in the form of writing a textbook.  I have a great admiration for those people who have undertaken that journey.  

Do you have a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career?

We all have our favourite papers, but I like to think I am best defined by my pupils over the past 30 years who have been absolutely terrific in the lab. Many have gone on to have stunning careers in medicine and science.

If you were going to be marooned on a Desert Island, what luxury would you like to take with you, and why?  

The Journal of Physiology from vol. 1 to date with an unlimited supply of Domain Road Pinot Noir 2006 from Central Otago, NZ, and a good hammock!

Matt Taylor

Generation Investment Management

Where do you work?

I work for a sustainable investment firm, Generation Investment Management. In our growth equity fund we support companies, through capital and our engagement, which are commercial but also helping tackle climate change and delivering positive social outcomes. These companies might be in mobility, like electric vehicles, the food system space, in energy, or consumer-facing brands.

What is your role at Generation?

I lead the support we give to companies on strategy, talent and governance, and commercial connections. That means that across our portfolio of investments, I help the management teams think about longer term planning, and how they can improve both their financial performance and the social and environmental impact they are having. I also help share best practise on tracking and assessing that impact.

What was your academic background?

I studied Human Sciences, which combined elements of Genetics, Animal Behaviour, Physiology and Anthropology, followed by a Masters in Medical Anthropology. Much of my studies brought me into the same lecture halls as the physiologists, although my focus was on the broader development of health interventions in different country and cultural settings.

What attracted you to the Physiological Society?

I’ve always been keen to re-engage with academia in a subject that had been part of my multidisciplinary background. I think the work The Society does to advance physiology through nurturing the development and expertise of the membership, and the broader community, is critical and only going to become more important. Whilst there’s an incredible history for The Society to be proud of, now also feels like a time when scientific study may see a range of disruptive factors, some for the good, and some not. I’m very excited to be a small part in helping The Society respond to some of those changes, to evolve to meet them, and continue to develop.

What do you do when you aren’t working?

I spend time with my wife and two sons, and we all try and get as involved in sports and the outdoors as we can. I also spend time with a couple of other charities, specifically one focused on access to sanitation in the developing world, and another that focuses on conservation in the UK.

If you were marooned on a desert island, what luxury would like to take with you?

I’m not sure it counts as a luxury, but I’d feel a bit lost without my running shoes, so likely those and a decent supply of Kit Kats.