Since completing my PhD studies at the University of Brighton in 2013, I have been working within the MRC-ARUK Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research first as a post-doctoral research fellow and more recently as an Assistant Professor. My work over recent years has focused on the development of novel and minimally invasive strategies for monitoring human skeletal muscle metabolism, using stable isotope tracers combined with mass spectrometry, in both health and ageing. In particular, I have been key in the development of an innovative technique for monitoring protein turnover in free living humans through the use of orally administered deuterium oxide or 'heavy water' (a technique that forms a major part of this grant proposal), which can measure, although not limited to, protein turnover over both acute (<2 days) and chronic (several weeks) periods. This method has since been instrumental in securing a number of substantial grants (from BBSRC and the Dunhill Medical Trust) aimed at uncovering some of the mechanisms involved in regulating age-related muscle loss, and the key role of protein turnover in this loss. My current research focus is tasked with the further development of stable isotope tracer techniques to study muscle mass regulation in chronic diseases and ageing, with the specific aim to develop novel non-invasive tracer based tools for monitoring muscle mass, protein synthesis and breakdown, which could in turn be utilized as a potential diagnostic to study aspects of ageing muscle, and the development of sarcopenia (successful in securing funding through MRC-CiC and Abbeyfield). Further to these tracer techniques, I am also currently developing metabolomics and proteomic techniques for application to the MRC-ARUK Centre's research areas. This area of omics development is in collaboration with the Phenome Centre Birmingham led by Dr Rick Dunn, who is a world leader in the area of mass spectrometry and metabolomics. Alongside my research interests I also contribute to both undergraduate (BSc MPT course at the UoN) and postgraduate (GEM course at the UoN and MSc Musculoskeletal Ageing and Health course at the University of Birmingham) teaching.
Stable Isotope Tracers
I contribute to teaching on:
- BSc Medical Physiology and Therapeutics
- Graduate Entry Medicine
- MSc Musculoskeletal Ageing and Health (University of Birmingham)
BASS JJ, WILKINSON DJ, RANKIN D, PHILLIPS BE, SZEWCZYK NJ and SMITH K, 2017. An overview of technical considerations for Western blotting applications to physiological research Scand J Med Sci Sports. 27(1), 4-25