Experts gather in Inverness for health research showcase

Leading researchers gathered in Inverness for a conference showcasing the work of the University of the Highlands and Islands in lipid biology, diabetes and cardiovascular science.

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From left: Professor Garry Duthie, Professor Adriano Rossi, Professor Phillip Whitfield, James Fraser, Professor Paul Trayhurn, Professor Ian Megson and Professor Irfan Rahman

Such is the growing importance and stature of the research, nearly 100 specialists in biomedical and clinical sciences were drawn from leading universities and research institutes. Speakers included academics based in Aberdeen, Cambridge, Dublin, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Rochester, USA.

The event was organised by the University of the Highlands and Islands Department of Diabetes and Cardiovascular Science, which is located in the Centre for Health Science in Inverness. The symposium at the centre was sponsored by the company ThermoFisher Scientific, manufacturers of analytical instrumentation and laboratory equipment. Delegates also attended a civic dinner given by The Highland Council, and hosted by Councillor Bet McAllister, at the Town House.

Guests included James Fraser, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands; Professor Paul Hagan, research and innovation director, Scottish Funding Council; Dr Martin Hornshaw, mass spectrometry marketing manager at ThermoFisher Scientific, and Willie Printie, managing director of LifeScan Scotland.

The University of the Highlands and Islands Department of Diabetes and Cardiovascular Science was set up in 2006 to advance research into the causes and consequences of diabetes, and explore new therapies. It has now expanded to include Scotland’s first specialist lipidomics unit, which is investigating the impact of lipids, commonly known as fats, on the progression of diseases including diabetes and heart disorders.

Professor Ian Megson, head of department, said: “We were delighted to host such an esteemed group of individuals under our roof in Inverness - something that could not have been imagined a few short years ago. The event was organised to celebrate and promote the work we are doing, and we must thank our sponsors, ThermoFisher Scientific and The Highland Council.”

Diabetes is a common disease – affecting 1 in 20 of the population - which is on the increase. The Highlands and Islands is a particular hotbed. Seventy-five per cent of diabetes sufferers die from cardiovascular complications.

Professor Megson said: “Despite a prolific research effort, the mechanisms underpinning disease progression remain largely undetermined and current therapeutic options have limitations.

“Our facility represents a new opportunity in the Highlands for research into the causes and consequences of diabetes. We have the very latest technology for investigating the role of free radicals and inflammation in pancreatic degeneration, insulin resistance and cardiovascular complications associated with diabetes.”

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