Posted by Mark18 July 2022
I started my academic journey in West London, where I completed a BSc in Sport Sciences at Brunel University in 2011. I then moved to the University of Exeter to study for a MSc in Sport and Exercise Medicine, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
During my time as a Masters student, I became interested in the effects of dietary nitrate supplementation (e.g. beetroot and green leafy vegetables) and lifestyle choices on cardiovascular health and exercise tolerance and went on to pursue a PhD in this area.
In 2017, I joined the Exeter Collaboration for Academic Primary Care (APEx) as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. My research to date has focussed on the prevalence of postural hypotension (the fall in blood pressure when rising from sitting or lying to standing), the detection and management of hypertension (high blood pressure) in primary care, rural workforce issues, and the implementation and digitisation of a home-based cardiac rehabilitation programme for heart failure (REACH-HF) in the NHS.
The aim of my recently awarded NIHR School for Primary Care Research (SPCR) Postdoctoral Fellowship is to undertake, and seek funding for, a programme of work focussing on postural hypotension assessment in primary care settings in England, and to participate in training to enhance my skills in research methods, patient and public involvement and leadership.
I feel extremely privileged to have been awarded a NIHR SPCR Fellowship. It has provided me with an opportunity to pursue my own research interests as well as undertake training that is specifically targeted toward my personal and professional development. I’m looking forward to attending a range of courses, meeting new people with similar interests, as well as finding out more about how primary care teams detect and manage postural hypotension so that we can develop new ways to support those affected by the condition and clinical teams in detecting it.
My academic training was predominantly in cardio-respiratory exercise physiology – which might make some people wonder how I ended up in Primary Care research! However, the dietary nitrate interventions that I employed and studied during my MSc and PhD not only improved exercise tolerance in healthy individuals and clinical populations, but were also effective in reducing blood pressure. I had always been interested in the study of chronic disease, particularly those with cardiovascular disease, such as hypertension, so jumped at the chance to join Dr Chris Clark and Professor John Campbell as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in APEx, to learn more about blood pressure measurement and management in primary care settings. I’m so glad I made this move as I now get to enjoy another 2 years working in this area and in such a supportive department.