He’s picking up good vibrations

A mountain bike handlebar, released for sale this September, is the first to offer a viscoelastic frame designed to absorb more of the impacts that are an inevitable result when enthusiasts and professional riders alike hurtle down trails.

The innovation has been driven by research conducted by Lewis Kirkwood as part of his PhD at Edinburgh Napier University: commercial endorsement for its long term health implications. “Vibration stimulates muscle and it makes the muscle tense, which is why you get arm pump because your muscle doesn’t relax and it cuts off the blood flow,” explains Lewis.

Initial data gathered by Lewis (alongside Dr Lesley Ingram, Dr Eva Malone, Dr Mark Taylor, and Prof Geraint Florida-James) suggested that mountain bikers can actually experience vibration levels that would exceed levels regarded as safe under ISO standards. These are applied in 164 countries, with the goal of ensuring products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality. For example, ISO 5349 – 1:2001 monitors human exposure to hand-transmitted vibration in construction, and caps vibrations at 5.0 ms^-2. But Lewis found mean values of 5.84ms^-2 on the riders he studied over a day of elite enduro racing.

It was important to investigate further, with exposure to vibration in the workplace linked to musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, vascular and other types of pathologies such as hand-arm vibration syndrome.

“We believe there will be ways of optimising the design of components such as handlebars, grips or even gloves, tyres and spokes, and if we could look at ways to minimize vibration while still keeping or improving the performance then that has to be a good thing,” said Lewis, who is a keen mountain biker himself and also a team mechanic with Norco Factory Team.

Since 2016 he has evolved his PhD research at the Innovation Centre run by Edinburgh Napier University and the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland, at Glentress in the Scottish Borders. Now, kreuz+quer – the company behind bike brand ARC8 and bicycle.engineering – have launched the Rockstock carbon handlebar using input from the research by Lewis. It is the first commercially available handlebar to integrate a viscoelastic damping layer, which means it is designed with the intention of reducing vibration exposure for riders.

For Lewis, the commercial response to his research has been inspirational. “At Napier, we have a big physiology department where, for example, we can take blood from people, so we can link up vibration doses and changes in the blood to see if there is a relationship with things like osteo-arthritis. We can also test many different products at the Innovation Centre. So if a component manufacturer with different layups of seatposts or frame materials wanted to know which was better in the field then we can reliably measure it.

“That’s what I want to do more of.”

Meeting the demands of a changing world

Dr Janis MacCallum and Dr Graham Wright, Programme Leaders for the School’s Biomolecular MSc suite, outline why this is a good time to become an applied biologist.

Whilst it’s clear the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic are numerous, we’ve been spending some time trying to understand what the ongoing response by the industry and academia will mean for our graduates. And the answer is resounding, it’s a good time to be an applied biologist. The need for scientists has been brought into sharp focus. Every day we are reading in the popular press about immunology, in the shape of vaccines and antibody tests; molecular biology in shape of diagnostic tests run from nose swabs; pharmacology in the shape of repurposing old drugs and designing new ones… I could go on.

In reviewing our MSc programmes to ensure they were training graduates able to contribute to the global response to COVID-19, we found that without exception our programmes were already doing this. Our suite of programmes already have a strong practical element with a focus on employability skills and all are supported by research academics, with strong links across the bio-medical and pharmaceutical industries and research institutes as well as within the NHS. This, combined with module and lecture topics that are designed to react to emerging research and demands to reflect the field, means that our programmes are already aligned to challenges created by COVID-19 and will be ready for whatever comes after it.

Our Biomedical Science programme, covers fundamental and emerging topics in immunology, toxicology, pharmacology and disease biology and how these disciplines are applied in biomedical science, allowing our students to gain unique insights into the challenges currently facing biomedical science (pandemic anyone?). One example of how COVID-19 will be reflected in our BMS programme comes from Prof. Peter Barlow, Professor of Infection and Immunology, module leader on our MSc programmes and Head of Research:

“I’ve given lectures and tutorials on the potential of host defence peptides for treating viral infections and related topics and covered emerging vaccination technologies that can be rapidly deployed that I’ve published on previously. I’ve also run tutorials where I’ve had MSc students critically review prior funding applications and could incorporate these into my modules now that we are starting to apply for SARS-CoV-2 related funding.”

Dr Peter Barlow

Or there is Drug Design and Biomedical Science, a unique programme which combines biomedicine and pharmaceutical science, focussing on the development and creation of effective drugs, from concept to clinic, including the theories and practical applications of chemical drug design and immunology, pharmacology and molecular biology. Our Head of Synthetic Chemistry, Dr David Mincher highlighted just one of the many areas these programmes that will reflect important aspects in the pharmaceutical response to COVID-19:

“A major topic taught in the Drug Design and Chemotherapy module is the design of drugs to treat viral infections, focussed on clinically successful drugs, exemplified by oseltamivir (Tamiflu) to treat influenza, and SARS. Parallel mechanism-based analysis, using our molecular modelling and computational biology facilities are extendable to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, causing the coronavirus disease COVID-19. Chemotherapeutic approaches are critically important to the treatment of viral disease in the scenario that vaccines are of no use to persons already infected with the virus.”

We also offer programmes in Medical Biotechnology (January 2020 intake) and a 2 year MSc programme in Pharmaceutical and Analytical Science (January intake only). All are designed to support you in gaining the knowledge and skills needed to take on exciting employment opportunities in the pharmaceutical, biomedical and biotechnology fields. Perhaps now is the time for you to explore these opportunities further…

If you are interested in learning more, sign up for our next Postgraduate Open evening being held online on the 21st May via this link: https://www.napier.ac.uk/about-us/events/online-pg-open-evening-may-2020#Form .

A degree designed to suit the needs of full-time athletes

My name is Eoin Flemming and I am a full time international Judo player, fighting for Ireland, and I plan on competing in the 2022 Commonwealth Games as well as the 2024 Olympic Games.

I chose to study at Edinburgh Napier University as it was the only university that offered a course that was designed to suit the needs of full-time athletes.

The degree course is online and is very flexible when it comes to sitting our modules. This is essential for me, as Judo is a full-on sport with no off season like other sports. I mostly train two or three times a day for six days a week, so knowing this degree is there and understands these demands is great. I was able to complete one recent assignment for university whilst I was on a five-week training camp in Japan. Having the flexibility to study and complete assignments from anywhere in the world is very helpful, especially as my sport requires me to travel a lot.

Edinburgh Napier University has supported me tremendously. They are one of very few universities that truly understand the needs and demands placed on professional athletes. The creation of the course is huge for people like me who want to get a degree without the normal time constraints of normal degrees. I understand the importance of having a degree and furthering my knowledge in today’s society. I have to be prepared for what I am going to do after judo and this degree will give me greater opportunities for when that time comes. It is such a highlight to be given the opportunity to achieve this without it affecting my sports performance.

I have already recommended the BA Business and Enterprise Sport to some of my training partners as I feel this is the perfect course for athletes. The modules are specific to elite sport so I find them really interesting. I’d absolutely encourage other athletes to do the course and enjoy the unique experience of studying whilst being an athletes. You will be opening new opportunities for yourself for life after sport. The university has plenty of support systems in place for us if you ever were to need any help.

Understanding the health benefits of exercise and physical activity

Due to the prevalence of long-term health conditions in our modern society, and our developing understanding of the health benefits of exercise and physical activity, there is an important need to develop highly skilled postgraduates in Clinical Exercise Science.

The School of Applied Sciences at Edinburgh Napier University has a unique course that can provide the specialised, evidence-based, clinical exercise science knowledge, and the applied skills required to work with both healthy and clinical populations.

On the MSc in Clinical Exercise Science you can expect to learn about many long-term conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, neurological conditions and different types of cancer and the role that physical activity and exercise can play in both the prevention and treatment of such conditions.

We want our students to have as much hands on experience as possible, to enhance their career prospects. With that in mind the Clinical Exercise Science MSc includes a large practical component where students will learn to run exercise tests, screen patients, prescribe exercise programmes and learn motivational interviewing techniques. We think it is important that our graduates not only know the physiology of exercise and physical activity, but also have an excellent understanding of what motivates people and how people can be helped to incorporate physical activity and exercise into their lives. Clearly we are very concerned with research, but more importantly we are concerned with the impact that research has in the real world and what this does for the health of both general and clinical populations. The most important thing that a clinical exercise scientist does is make a positive difference to peoples’ lives. This course will give you the knowledge and skills required to go out and do this confidently.

Whether your background is sport/exercise science, psychology, physical activity and health or perhaps you work as a healthcare professional we want to hear from you. Our students come from a very wide variety of backgrounds. In addition to your academic qualifications you will also be given the opportunity to sit the REPS and CIMSPA Validated Level 4 Cancer and Exercise examinations. We want to offer you learning experiences which will enable you to be in the best possible position to exploit the increasing career opportunities as an exercise professional, whether as a physical activity coordinator, a health and well-being physiologist; a clinical exercise physiologist or an exercise referral coordinator.

Dr Melanie Leggate PhD, Programme Leader MSc Clinical Exercise Science

Make a positive difference to peoples’ lives through Clinical Exercise Science

Due to the prevalence of long-term health conditions in our modern society, and our developing understanding of the health benefits of exercise and physical activity, there is an important need to develop highly skilled postgraduates in Clinical Exercise Science.

To enhance your career prospects, Edinburgh Napier has developed a unique course that will provide you with specialised, evidence-based, clinical exercise science knowledge, as well as plenty of hands on experience and the applied skills required to work with both healthy and clinical populations.

On this course you can expect to learn about many long-term conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, neurological conditions and different types of cancer and the role that physical activity and exercise can play in both the prevention and treatment of such conditions.

We want our students to have as much hands on experience as possible. With that in mind the Clinical Exercise Science MSc includes a large practical component where you will learn to run exercise tests, screen patients, prescribe exercise programmes and learn motivational interviewing techniques. We think it is important that our graduates not only know the physiology of exercise and physical activity, but also have an excellent understanding of what motivates people and how you can help people to incorporate physical activity and exercise into their lives. Clearly we are very concerned with research, but more importantly we are concerned with the impact that research has in the real world and what this does for the health of both general and clinical populations. The most important thing that a clinical exercise scientist does is make a positive difference to peoples’ lives. This course will give you the knowledge and skills required to go out and do this confidently.

This course is designed to allow our students to gain the professional skills and knowledge that are required to work in the area of Clinical Exercise Science.

Whether your background is sport/exercise science, psychology, physical activity and health or perhaps you work as a healthcare professional we want to hear from you. Our students come from a very wide variety of backgrounds. In addition to your academic qualifications you will also be given the opportunity to sit the REPS and CIMSPA Validated Level 4 Cancer and Exercise examinations. We want to offer you learning experiences which will enable you to be in the best possible position to exploit the increasing career opportunities as an exercise professional, whether as a physical activity coordinator, a health and well-being physiologist; a clinical exercise physiologist or an exercise referral coordinator.

Get more details: https://www.napier.ac.uk/courses/msc-clinical-exercise-science-postgraduate-fulltime