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Behavioural Medicine researcher awarded £100,000 fellowship

Dr Nicola Paine, Lecturer in Health Psychology within the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University, has been awarded a £100,000 Springboard Fellowship from the Academy of Medical Sciences.

The grant will see Dr Paine lead a new research project focussing on the links between physical activity, sedentary behaviour and how the immune system responds to acute periods of psychological stress.

Dr Paine will also explore how these factors interact as a potential mechanism for developing heart disease.

The funding awarded to Dr Paine through the scheme will also allow her to investigate how immune cells respond to short-term stress and examine how physical activity may improve these responses. It will also allow her to see how the amount of time we spend sedentary, or sitting, may negatively influence these responses.

Acute periods of short-term stress, such as being late for an important meeting or receiving bad news are something that we routinely experience, but over a longer, prolonged period this stress exposure could be detrimental to our health. This award will build on Dr Paine’s work regarding the impact of acute psychological stress on measures of cardiovascular health.

Speaking about the award, Dr Paine said:

“I am honoured that the Academy of Medical Sciences has awarded me funding to develop my research into the impact of inactivity on our immune system and how it responds to stress. Both levels of inactivity and stress are highly prevalent and continuing to rise in society and understanding how these factors interact to potentially increase risk of heart disease is a key public health issue.

“As we better understand the stress-induced immune mechanisms and cells that are affected by physical inactivity, we can start to design interventions to target these mechanisms – this will help improve our responses to stress and more widely our health. I am excited to further develop my research in this area, and grow my research team, and sincerely thank the Academy for their support.”

The highly prestigious fellowship is designed to identify and support early-career researchers by helping them to launch their careers and become research leaders of the future. In addition to the funding, Dr Paine will also be able to access to the Academy of Medical Sciences’ mentoring and career development programme.

The research project is due to commence in August 2021 and will run until 2023.

More information about Springboard and the full list of recent awardees can be found online HERE.