• Question: Why is your work important and to whom

    Asked by halw to Alex, Amy, Georgia, Andy, Ollie on 15 Jun 2011. This question was also asked by sheeana.
    • Photo: Amy Reeve

      Amy Reeve answered on 14 Jun 2011:


      My work is important because it will hopefully lead to a cure for debilitating diseases which affect the elderly. It will hopefully however benefit everyone, because even though we are young (ish) at the moment as we age there is an increased risk that we will get Parkinson’s disease, or Alzheimer’s disease or suffer a stroke. it is important that as scientists we continue to investigate these disease so we can help people who suffer from them……one day it might be us.

    • Photo: Alex Munro

      Alex Munro answered on 15 Jun 2011:

      My work is important because I am looking into one of the reasons that older people develop a condition called sarcopenia – this is the age-related loss of muscle mass and loss of physical capability.

      There are many factors that contribute to sarcopenia, and one of them may be that we either don’t eat enough protein or we eat it in such a way that it doesn’t always stimulate the creation of new muscle. This is the question I will answer for my PhD.

      If this is the case, then we could start to recommend to older people that they think about either eating more protein, or eating it in a more ‘efficient’ way. If people were then to follow this advice, there may be less people suffering from the sarcopenia – this would be better for them and their families, and better for our NHS resources

    • Photo: Andy MacLeod

      Andy MacLeod answered on 15 Jun 2011:

      Hi halw. This is always an important question to ask, and sometimes a difficult one to answer. The benefits of scientific research can’t always be predicted in advance, but here’s how I think my work might benefit people.

      When people get older, sometimes they lose the ability to think clearly. They get diseases like Alzheimer’s and other kinds of dementia, become confused, and might even forget their friends and family. It happened to my granny just before she died, and it was painful to watch, especially for my dad. I look for the genes that go wrong when people lose their thinking ability. If we can find out what goes wrong, we can develop treatments that will stop this from happening. This should help people retain their cognitive ability well into old age, and stop them developing diseases like Alzheimer’s.