Professor wins academic accolade for research into nerve damaging disease

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A CONSULTANT at the forefront of research into motor neurone disease has been awarded “senior investigator” status from the National Institute for Health Research, for her contribution to the field.

Professor Pamela Shaw, consultant neurologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust and professor of neurology at Sheffield University, is one of 19 clinicians and academics across the country who have been appointed to the role this year.

Just 200 senior researchers nationwide hold the accolade.

Professor Shaw said: “Bringing new treatments and new hope to patients and carers living with motor neurone disease is vital, so I am delighted at the boost to our research programme that the award senior investigator status by the National Institute for Health Research brings.”

She added: “This award is highly sought-after in research circles, and commands a research grant that will enable us to further develop new technologies and advances in our understanding of this devastating disease.”

Motor neurone disease is a rare, incurable disease which leaves muscles wasted and weak from damaged nerves.

Researchers from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neurosciences (SITraN) are currently trials of a new device called a diaphragm pacing system, which delivers electric pulses to strengthen the diaphragm, the thin muscle which helps breathing – making life more comfortable for patients who suffer with the illness.

In the UK about six in every 100,000 people suffer from the disease.

Most of those who receive treatment live for just three to six months longer than otherwise expected.

All applicants for senior investigator status were judged by an independent expert panel, chaired by Professor Sir Alex Markham from Leeds University.

SITraN has become an international centre of excellence for research in neurodegenerative disease.

The centre plans to “significantly accelerate and improve the pace of therapy development for motor neurone disease and related conditions”.