University, CF Athlete Team Up for PhD Research Program

University, CF Athlete Team Up for PhD Research Program
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The University of Portsmouth, U.K., is partnering with Josh Llewellyn-Jones, a record-breaking endurance athlete who has cystic fibrosis (CF), to drive a scientific PhD research program that aspires to improve the lives of people with the disease.

Llewellyn-Jones defied the odds by living past his 30s and becoming a world-renowned athlete. He also founded CF Warriors, a charity organization dedicated to raising awareness about the health benefits of sport and physical activity for those with CF.

CF Warriors now is funding a three-year PhD program supervised by Zoe Saynor, PhD, a world-leading expert in exercise and CF from the School of Sport, Health and Exercise Science at the University of Portsmouth, that aims to promote interactions between young researchers and the CF community.

“I have been working closely with Josh and the charity for a few years, providing exercise-physiology advice and support on his many incredible exercise-related challenges. Through this partnership, we have planned an exciting programme of scientific research that has been directly informed by people with CF and their families,” Saynor said in a press release. Saynor also is an active member of the European CF Society Exercise Working Group.

“A key focus [of the PhD program], however, will also be on working closely with the charity to disseminate research findings to people with cystic fibrosis and their families across the globe. We want to help the CF community by promoting the benefits of physical activity, exercise and good nutrition,” Saynor said.

While working on research projects focused on addressing several key questions raised by the CF community, young researchers are expected to participate in educational sessions to explain and disseminate research findings among patients and their families. They also will be involved in clinical trials and will be working closely with several medical departments of the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.

“This exciting opportunity will also enable us to mentor early-career researchers through a programme of both research and knowledge exchange with people with CF and their families,” Saynor said.

Saynor hopes the new research program will be part of a continued partnership between CF Warriors and the University of Portsmouth that will ultimately allow for young scientists to help improve the lives of thousands of people living with CF worldwide.

“I’ve been a huge advocate for sport and exercise my whole life. Having pushed my body to places few thought was possible, it’s shown CF families worldwide, what’s truly possible. Formally teaming up with Dr. Zoe Saynor and the University of Portsmouth is such an exciting step for me and the CF Warriors charity,” said Llewellyn-Jones, who in 2019 received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for services to CF awareness, and also won best sporting fundraiser at the Pride of Sport awards.

“As someone with CF, I want to see children with the condition grow up and push boundaries further than ever before and with the help of the University, I’m sure we will,” he said.

More information about the PhD program supported by CF Warriors is available here.

Joana holds a BSc in Biology, a MSc in Evolutionary and Developmental Biology and a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal. Her work has been focused on the impact of non-canonical Wnt signaling in the collective behavior of endothelial cells — cells that made up the lining of blood vessels — found in the umbilical cord of newborns.
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Joana holds a BSc in Biology, a MSc in Evolutionary and Developmental Biology and a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal. Her work has been focused on the impact of non-canonical Wnt signaling in the collective behavior of endothelial cells — cells that made up the lining of blood vessels — found in the umbilical cord of newborns.
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