Friday 25 October 2019

Blog: Matthew Birkbeck reports on the 10th Annual Alliance for Healthy Ageing conference

Matthew Birkbeck, currently a Clinical PhD Fellow funded by the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre, gives his experience of attending the 10th Annual Alliance for Healthy Ageing Conference.


I recently attended and presented my work at the 10th Annual Alliance for Healthy Ageing conference held in the beautiful Slaley Hall near Hexham in Northumberland. There were numerous highlights including a fantastic opening lecture from keynote speaker Prof. Dr Clemens Schmitt underpinning the importance of research into ageing and how we must advance our understanding of cellular senescence to combat various ageing syndromes.

I am a medical physicist by background so it was a great opportunity for me to meet new people key to ageing research, learn some hardcore biology and to showcase a poster about a pilot study we performed using a new technique we are developing at Newcastle University called motor unit magnetic resonance imaging (MU-MRI).  To date we have used this technique to investigate changes to the morphology of motor units in a group of healthy controls of different ages, we have seen significant differences between young and old volunteers, indicating this could be used as a biomarker for sarcopenia.

Other highlights for me included a fantastic talk from Dr Kirsten Ness about her work with survivors of childhood cancers. She talked about how these patients often suffer from symptoms associated with older adults such as fatigue, difficulty performing daily activities and eventually sarcopenia and frailty. Her groups’ work first examines how these survivors develop these conditions and they hope to use senolytic drugs as part of a trial to investigate their effects on reducing these symptoms in this population. Prof. Avan Sayer gave another fantastic talk about our current understanding of the mechanisms of sarcopenia and new work being performed to translate new diagnostic and therapeutic techniques into clinical practice.

Overall I found the conference a very educational and enjoyable experience and would like to thank the organisers for such a great conference.


You can read more on Matthew’s research here.