July 31, 2013
Lewis Fall, 31, from Caerphilly, was awarded his PhD in July 2013. Extracts from his thesis, “Redox regulation of haemostasis; modulation by inspiratory hypoxia and physical exercise” have been published in the Journal of Clinical Pathology, the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine and the Journal of Physiology.
Here, we speak to him about his research.
Congratulations! How do you feel about getting your PhD?
I feel relieved to have completed my work. The final year of my PhD was incredibly hard. My father and my mother-in-law passed away while I was writing up, so it was a challenging time for my family, but with the support of my wife, kids and the staff in health and exercise science, I got through it relatively unscathed!
Tell us about your research
In a nutshell, I’ve been trying to figure out why it is that people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) are more prone to blood clotting problems. We think that reactive molecules in the body, called free radicals, are an up-stream trigger for clotting and they’re more abundant in low-oxygen environments. COPD patients tend to have lower blood oxygen levels than healthy people, so we thought there was a link there to be explored.
Why did you choose this area?
I chose this topic because my late Grandmother had blood clotting problems, so when I signed up for my PhD, I thought that this would be an interesting area and compliment the research already being undertaken by the team in Health and Exercise Science.
What did you most enjoy about your PhD?
I enjoyed the data collection for my final study. Prof Bailey has put together a wonderful team in the Neurovascular Research Laboratory.
Who will benefit from your research?
This research is translational work that is hopefully going to benefit the field of haemostasis medicine once we finish publishing from it! As a result of our current work, we’ve started a collaboration with Prof Philip Adrian Evans from the Haemostasis Biomedical Research Unit in Morriston Hospital. We’ll be using our low oxygen facilities and ability to directly measure free radicals along with some state of the art coagulation techniques that he’s developing. It’s going to massively further our work and really get into the nitty gritty of the mechanisms involved. It’s exciting stuff because we’re approaching the area in a completely different way to anything that’s been done before.
What’s it like to be a research student here?
It’s tough, as it should be. But the support is excellent from both the faculty and central research offices and the facilities in sport, health and exercise are second to none.
How does the University bring on young researchers?
Well from my experience, I was exposed to high quality data collection from day one, we’re involved with gaining ethical approval for our own studies which many research students don’t get to do and we’re actively encouraged to present at top conferences. For example, my first oral conference presentation was at the main meeting of the Physiological Society in Cambridge University. These are skills that are absolutely invaluable to young or early career researchers (I can hardly call myself young anymore) going forward, once we leave the safety of PhD supervision.