My work aims to make people healthier. I have three main approaches: (1) researching physical activity interventions to increase population level physical activity; (2) researching genetic and epigenetic aspects of response to exercise/nutrition to allow appropriate tailoring of health advice to individuals; and (3) public engagement activities to spread knowledge and increase understanding of biomedical science and health research.
My physical activity research focuses on the popular Daily Mile schools physical activity intervention which is now done by ~50% of Scottish primary schools. I co-lead a multidisciplinary team of academics including physiologists, developmental psychologists and behaviour change experts. Our projects have attracted a great deal of attention from a wide range of organisations and individuals both at home and abroad including governments, policy makers, television, newspapers, teachers, parents and academics.
My background is in genetics and epigenetics. Whilst increasing physical activity will improve population level health, the same amount of physical activity will not work equally well for all individuals. Projects in this area broadly focus on understanding inter-individual differences in our basic physiology or in response to lifestyle interventions such as exercise or nutrition: "Why are we not all the same?" These are primarily focused on metabolic disease, athletic ability and/or trying to understand differences in male and female response. I am also a member of international consortia in this area (e.g. Athlome www.athlomeconsortium.org/ or ELITE med.stanford.edu/elite.html).
Throughout my career, I have sought out opportunities to be involved in and drive public engagement. Whatever our research areas, we need to communicate our findings in a way that can be understood by the largest number of people to achieve the maximum impact. I believe that increasing public understanding of research and research methods is key to allowing individuals access to the results of research, understanding how their taxes are spent and questioning the often erroneous evidence placed before them by public figures.