Understanding the cognitive symptoms of Primary Biliary Cholangitis; a trainee's story
April Phaw is a gastroenterology trainee at Health Education England North East. She was part-funded by the Newcastle BRC to work on the project, ‘Assessing Cognitive symptom in Primary Biliary Cholangitis (COG-PBC)’ as part of the Liver Disease theme. She explains the project aims and the benefits this will have for patients.
Can you give us a summary of your research?
My study is on the cognitive symptoms that patients with Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC) experience. PBC is a condition that affects the liver, but several patients have also reported cognitive symptoms. The understanding of this is poor, and the pathophysiology is unknown. The aim of our study is to objectively assess the PBC patients with or without symptoms, using CANTAB neuropsychiatric battery and functional MRI imaging. The findings from the study will help us understand the cognitive symptoms in PBC patients.
What kind of changes do you hope/did you hope your research will make possible in healthcare?
By increasing our understanding of this lesser-known symptom, we hope to be able to develop the therapeutic treatment for the symptom.
Did your study involve patient/public volunteers?
For the study, we worked with people diagnosed with PBC. Their input was essential in helping us gather data to contribute to our study. Our clinical research team provided information to potential participants at their regular autoimmune liver clinic appointments that took place at Newcastle Hospitals. From here, the patients could opt into the study if it was suitable for them. We were grateful to those who volunteered and attended additional clinic visits to participate in our study.
What have you gained from being an NIHR funded trainee?
As an NIHR funded trainee, I had access to research training and mentorship. I also had opportunities to network with trainees working in other areas. The experience during these years was invaluable.
What are your next steps?
I am now back to my clinical training. I will now apply the academic knowledge and skills that I have learned as a BRC trainee, in my clinical practice and clinical research projects.