2018 Professiorial Lecture Series
Monday 4 June 2018
Professor Clare Milsom - "Unnatural selection? Applying evolutionary theory to academic practice"
Perhaps surprisingly the fossil record provides insights into value of developing vibrant, diverse and competitive academic communities. While stable, secure conditions can seem advantageous, the ‘threat’ in such a setting is that organisms become so perfectly adapted that competition and speciation are thwarted. Such habitats are often inhabited by ‘living fossils’: species with poor lineages that have remained essentially unchanged for extensive periods of geological times.
Since dramatic radiation of Universities post 1992, higher education has enjoyed a long period of what may be considered ‘evolutionary stasis’ with relatively secure funding and limited procedural change. However, the recent introduction of higher student fees has triggered a number of metric-led imperatives that have the potential to drive change and increase competition. In order for our university to succeed against these new environmental pressures we need to develop a setting that is characterised by supportive, agile, frameworks and systems.
We also need to recognise and celebrate our niche qualities, in so doing we can define our place and protect ourselves from the race to evolve too disparately. In this way we thrive, and not simply survive, in the rapidly changing higher education landscape.Perhaps surprisingly the fossil record provides insights into value of developing vibrant, diverse and competitive academic communities. While stable, secure conditions can seem advantageous, the ‘threat’ in such a setting is that organisms become so perfectly adapted that competition and speciation are thwarted. Such habitats are often inhabited by ‘living fossils’: species with poor lineages that have remained essentially unchanged for extensive periods of geological times.
Since dramatic radiation of Universities post 1992, higher education has enjoyed a long period of what may be considered ‘evolutionary stasis’ with relatively secure funding and limited procedural change. However, the recent introduction of higher student fees has triggered a number of metric-led imperatives that have the potential to drive change and increase competition. In order for our university to succeed against these new environmental pressures we need to develop a setting that is characterised by supportive, agile, frameworks and systems. We also need to recognise and celebrate our niche qualities, in so doing we can define our place and protect ourselves from the race to evolve too disparately. In this way we thrive, and not simply survive, in the rapidly changing higher education landscape.
2017 Professorial Lecture Series
Friday 6 April
Professor Raphaela Kane - Patients, pragmatism and privilege: Influences on healthcare leadership
Leadership, at its most fundamental, is about having a vision, being able to articulate that vision into achievable goals, and building relationships for the development and support of dynamic individuals and teams. In addition, the ‘good’ leader should be concerned with how those individuals and teams experience their own sense of purpose, their value to the system around them and their self-esteem. Leadership, in any context, is both challenging and multifaceted and the notion of vision is not without its problems, e.g. from where does it derive, is it shared, and what will it achieve?
Leadership of and for health and social care merits consideration as a distinctive entity. Why? Because healthcare leadership is uniquely concerned, at its core, with the sick and vulnerable in our families and communities. Consequently, healthcare leadership is located in a highly politicised and emotive context, served and serviced by multiple stakeholders and confounded by a diverse range of sectors and settings. It is within this intricate context that the healthcare leader must develop and deliver on their vision.
This paper explores my contribution to healthcare leadership and does so by examining and testing the notion of ‘my vision’ and the critical influences from which it derives. I will be exploring the extent to which lasting memories of encounters with individual patients, and settings such as A&E, have characterised my work and the way I make decisions. I will examine briefly the philosophy of pragmatism and the way that different theoretical perspectives drive and shape leadership impact. Finally, I will analyse the concept of privilege and what this means to me for my leadership, for nursing and for the wider health care context.
Friday 15 December
Professor Jatin Burniston - "How exercising makes your muscles better, faster, stronger"
There is an intimate relationship between muscle and exercise: without muscle we could not exercise - and - without exercise our muscles deteriorate and become dysfunctional. Muscles are exceptionally malleable and can change in structure, size and function in response to everyday aspects of our lifestyle such as our level of general activity or exercise habits. A long history of vibrant research has sought to understand how these changes occur and how exercise can be used to improve muscle to benefit athletic performance or to slow the onset of ageing and prevent disease. Nevertheless, many questions remain to be answered and technological developments continue to add new tools and new potential for deeper insight to the inner workings of our muscles. I have been fortunate to contribute to an evolution of this research field and for the past decade or more I have been amongst the pioneers of a new research tool that enables us to measure the many thousands of different proteins that make up muscle. Proteins are the workhorses within muscle that enable it to function but until recently it was very difficult to measure large numbers of proteins in a single experiment. This impeded our ability to understand the intricate detail of how muscle becomes better, faster and stronger in response to exercise. During my lecture I will give a flavour of what this new research tool has to offer and I will share the story of my less than usual path to professorship. I will also take this welcome opportunity to pay thanks and express my most sincere gratitude to the many people that have helped me on my way.
Thursday 2 November
Professor Dick Thijssen - "You’ll never walk alone: from Nijmegen to Liverpool (and back)"
Based on my strong interest in physical activity and medicine, Physiotherapy was a logical choice. Although I enjoyed the area, I increasingly started to ask “why-questions” related to therapies and assumptions common in the field. The decision to chase these questions, by getting a degree in biomedical science, was spot on.
Still driven by my interest in physical activity and medicine, my PhD-work under supervision of Prof. Maria Hopman helped me to better understand why physical inactivity affects cardiovascular health. In 2007, I took a post-doc position in Liverpool, under close supervision of Prof. Danny Green. This helped me to continue to answer the “why questions”, largely focusing on why exercise training is successful in protecting against cardiovascular disease.
Important lessons I learned during these early years is that “why questions” are more easily answered when using novel techniques, but I also experienced the strength of collaboration. By using novel techniques, our group revealed that physical (in)activity leads to marked adaptations in the arterial wall. These changes likely explain why exercise training reduces cardiovascular risk. By understanding how physical activity affects the cardiovascular system, and identifying key stimuli leading to these adaptations, my work explores novel ways how to maximise health benefits through exercise training.
During my inaugural lecture I will discuss my journey, outline answers to some of my key “why-questions” and discuss how my work affects daily clinical practice of doctors. This latter topic seems especially relevant in our physically inactive society. My lecture will also answer your “why question” related to why I chose the current title.
Thursday 5 October
Professor Helen Jones - It’s a Grand old ‘tube’ to play for…
My interest in sport and exercise began at an early age (despite not being very good at it). Following my Sport Science degree I embarked on a career in the fitness industry assisting people with cardiovascular and metabolic risk and disease to use exercise as a vehicle to manage their condition. Upon returning to University I now have the privilege of attempting to improve health with exercise as my fun and exciting career where every day is different.
My PhD focussed on understanding how the blood pressure response to exercise is different depending on the time of day. This sparked my interest in blood vessels (‘tubes”) and how they respond to provide sufficient blood flow during exercise but also how to keep the blood vessels healthy to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. My PhD was under the guidance of Professors Atkinson and George and together with significant influence from Professors Green and Cable I was able to learn novel techniques in the assessment of conduit, resistance and skin blood vessels. During my early career I was also fortunate to visit a number of world-renowned laboratories, most notably the laboratory of Professor Ainslie at the University of British Columbia to learn how to assess blood vessels in the brain. Together, these techniques have been integral to my research to date.
During my post-doctoral research I became interested in the impact of endocrinology on blood vessels. My subsequent research has focussed on understanding conditions where changes in hormones cause cardiovascular consequences and increased cardiovascular risk (e.g. Type 2 Diabetes and female reproductive conditions including the menopausal transition). My research has shown that appropriate exercise training can improve blood vessel function to (i) contribute to reducing cardiovascular disease risk, (ii) enhance thermoregulatory control, and (iii) reduce the negative consequences of the menopause. I also have a keen interest in examining other interventions and treatments to improve blood vessel function including inflating a blood pressure cuff (called ischemic preconditioning) and whole body heating and cooling. Investigating whether these interventions can be effective alone or in combination with exercise training is a current research theme.
My inaugural professorial lecture will illuminate my academic journey to date, outline some of my key research findings and provide insight into how the findings are beneficial for health and disease risk. Throughout the lecture I will thank some very influential people and highlight the importance of a grand old ‘team’. The focus will be on blood vessels or ‘tubes’, understanding the impact of hormones on these vessels and how to improve the health of blood vessels with novel interventions.