Friday 23 February 2018

NIHR ageing expert appointed Senior Investigator

Professor Avan Sayer, Director of the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre, has been appointed Senior Investigator to the NIHR College.

Aligned to ageing research, Avan Sayer, who is also Professor of Geriatric Medicine at Newcastle University and an Honorary Consultant Geriatrician with the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is one of 43 new award holders in 2018, following the 11th annual competition.

Senior Investigators are the NIHR’s senior leaders and Faculty members who both lead and conduct research. They are critical to augmenting success and developing health research capability to address the challenges that need to be overcome for the future health and wealth of the nation.

Professor Sayer’s expertise is in Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, and out of 43 new appointments, 12 re-appointments and 43 new Emeritus appointments in 2018, she is the only Senior Investigator linked to the area of Geriatrics and Gerontology.

Within their roles, NIHR Investigators are expected to provide advice on their research area, including serving on review panels and carrying out peer review. As an NIHR Senior Investigator, there is the opportunity to share expertise with colleagues across the whole NIHR and NHS.

She comments: ‘I am very honoured to be selected as NIHR Senior Investigator and this award reflects the growing focus on translational health research for older people in the UK and the important role it has to play in building capacity and capability to transform healthcare in later life’.

The focus of ageing research in the NIHR

Ageing represents a key area of commitment for the NIHR. The focus is on promoting health, preventing illnesses and improving treatments for ageing syndromes, particularly in light of growing evidence that older people experience not just one, but multiple age-related conditions in later life.

Ageing syndromes adversely affect the health of large numbers of older people, yet they are not always recognised in clinical practice and therefore approaches to diagnosis, treatment and prevention are not so well developed. In her research, and as Director of the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), Professor Sayer is building capacity in research that will advance the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of ageing syndromes such as sarcopenia, frailty and multimorbidity.

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres

BRCs are formed through partnerships between England’s leading NHS organisations and universities, tasked with conducting translational research to transform scientific breakthroughs into life-saving treatments for patients. The NIHR Newcastle BRC is a partnership between the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University, and aims to improve lives through world-class research in ageing and long-term conditions.

As a leading geriatrician in the NHS, and a Professor of Geriatric Medicine, Professor Sayer is key to mobilising the shift toward a focus on the needs of the older person in not only basic scientific research, but also research that can be translated to front-line services in the NHS.

The NIHR Senior Investigator appointment is testament to this commitment of bringing academic research into patient-care settings.

Professor Sayer adds: “Newcastle has a highly valued reputation for translational research into ageing and conditions that affect the older person. My appointment to the NIHR College as Senior Investigator demonstrates the value that is placed on us as a Trust, University and city, when it comes to leading the way in ageing research that benefits the lives of patients.”

Professor Sayer’s Senior Investigator position is alongside fellow Newcastle University colleague and Director of the NIHR School for Public Health Research, Professor Ashley Adamson. In addition, Newcastle University gains two Emeritus Senior Investigators with; Pro Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Medical Sciences, and Lead for the NIHR Newcastle BRC Dementia theme, Professor David Burn, and NIHR Newcastle BRC theme lead for Neuromuscular Disease, Professor Sir Doug Turnbull.