Today was the School of Public Health Research Day. I entered the same poster I have previously posted, and really enjoyed talking to the two judges about it.  The most gratifying thing was talking to a clinician who really felt that my research could make a difference. I work on the metabolic syndrome, a cluster of features  (central adiposity, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, hypertension and fasting glucose) that indicate increased risk for diabetes and cardiovascular events. The clinician said that one of the hardest things in a clinic was getting people who meet the criteria for the metabolic syndrome and follow diet and lifestyle advice to reduce their features and so reduce their risk of future disease, because they didn’t believe they were really at risk.  Patients will constantly point out cases of people with a high BMI who lived many years… and continue to smoke / chew tobacco and lead a sedentary lifestyle. He said in some cases it could be heart-breaking (and sometimes just very frustrating) failing to get through to them that they really are at increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular events.

My work is on developing a serum test that further stratifies those with the metabolic syndrome into two groups, where one group has more severe underlying metabolic abnormalities, and a highly increased disease risk. The clinician felt that this was the sort of thing patients really respond to – if you can sit them down and show them blood work showing a hugely increased disease risk, they may be more motivated to make change.

I also learned a lot from Lisa Guay-Woodford (the other judge) about molecular genetics, and what the next steps of my research program should be. I was amazed at how productive the session was (I admit, I entered only to get a free poster printed and ws grumpy about the time commitemnt), how much I learned, and how much more pasionate about my project I was.

Great as that was though, the best part of the day was winning this 😀 :