Date Published: 17 October 2006

Unlocking the secrets of the human body - Glasgow University

Health News from Scotland

A new complex of Exercise Science Laboratories has been unveiled at the University of Glasgow.

The £1million development was opened today by Patricia Ferguson MSP, Minister for Sport.

Glasgow University leads the world in research into the causes of chronic disease like cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

The cutting-edge laboratories will have a key role in helping scientists understand how genes and the environment affect the response of our bodies to exercise.

Professor Billy Martin, Head of Division of Neuroscience and Biomedical Systems, said:

? This development demonstrates the University's commitment to understanding the importance of lifestyle and genetics on human health and athletic performance.

_ These new laboratories place us in a unique position within the UK to take a broad approach to exercise science, from a molecular and genetic level, right up to studying entire populations. This wonderful new facility will allow us to gain an even deeper understanding of the effects of exercise on the human body, both in health and disease.

Patricia Ferguson, Minister for Sport, said:

? We know that participation in sport and physical activity improves health, develops self-confidence and improves quality of life.

_ These facilities are the first of their kind in the UK and it's a real achievement that, through the University of Glasgow, Scotland is leading the way in this field.

_ The research will help us identify approaches to support people who want to make positive changes to their lifestyle and to make the healthy choice the easy choice.

The Exercise Science Laboratories boast three human performance labs, together with a metabolic investigation suite and a molecular biology lab.

Dr Jason Gill, a senior member of the University's Institute of Diet, Exercise and Lifestyle, said:

These fantastic laboratories give us the tools with which to probe, in a manner not previously possible, the scientific processes responsible for the beneficial effects of exercise on the human body.

_ Many of the major public health issues of the next few decades ? cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and some cancers ? are intimately linked with lifestyle issues.

_ The west of Scotland, with its wide range of socio-economic problems and high disease burden, provides the ideal setting to investigate and develop strategies for lifestyle intervention to improve public health.

_ Some examples of our current research in this field include investigations into genetic and environmental contributions to childhood obesity, the influence of physical activity on diabetes, and novel technologies to measure physical activity.”

The laboratories are the latest addition to the Sport and Exercise Science Group at the University.

The Group achieved the highest (5 star*) rating in the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise, and provides an interdisciplinary focus for research and teaching in exercise, sport and health for a range of populations and disease states.

As well as research into public health, the Exercise Science Laboratories will be used to improve our understanding of the scientific basis of elite athletic performances.

The Exercise Science Group have significant experience in providing sport science support to an array of professional and elite amateur athletes.

The relationship with top athletes gives two-way benefits. Athletes profit from enhanced preparation and performance during competition and the Exercise Science Group advance their knowledge by obtaining scientific data showing the body's response to extreme human performance.

This is invaluable for understanding the factors causing life-threatening diseases or in developing new therapeutic strategies. Athletes who have worked with the Exercise Science Group include boxers Kenny Anderson and Willie Limond and karate world champion Vic Charles.

Dr Yannis Pitsiladis, Director of the International Centre for East African Running Science based at Glasgow University, said:

? In the increasingly competitive world of sport, the debate surrounding predictors of sporting success has intensified, with the question of nature versus nurture to the fore.

_ The disproportionate success of certain populations in sporting events has sustained the belief that genes have a role in the determination of athletic success.

_ These labs will allow is to take our research to a much higher scientific level.?


Source: Glasgow University (Scotland).

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