Academic Partnerships: Tour of Manchester Metropolitan University Institute of Sport

Manchester Metropolitan University Institute of Sport.

Health Innovation Manchester has a thriving portfolio of activities, with a large portion of this activity harnessing the excellence in academia and research that Greater Manchester has to offer, in areas such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, inflammation and repair, women and children, mental health, and neuroscience.

The Academic Partnerships team supports relations with Health Innovation Manchester’s four Higher Education Institutions (HEI) partners, including the University of Salford, University of Bolton, Manchester Metropolitan University, and The University of Manchester, to maximise Greater Manchester’s research and academic capacity and capability.

In this blog, the Academic Partnerships team provide their insights on a recent visit to the Manchester Metropolitan Institute of Sport, where they toured extensive world-class facilities and met the team that is harnessing the power of sport to improve lives and society.

One of the great privileges of my role at Health Innovation Manchester is getting to spend time on the campuses of our academic partners getting up close to state-of-the-art facilities and amazing research equipment. Recently, the Academic Partnerships team at HInM had the opportunity to visit the new, world-leading exercise science laboratories based at Manchester Metropolitan University Institute of Sport, in the heart of the All Saints campus.

Taking the short walk from our base at Citylabs 1.0, up the Oxford Road Corridor, it was clear that Manchester Met has created a special place to make a real impact on the world, all housed within a truly modern campus with exceptional facilities.

We were delighted to be welcomed by Professor Tim Cable (Director of the Institute of Sport), Professor Jamie McPhee (Head of Department of Sport & Exercise Sciences), Dr Aneurin Kennerley (Reader of Neuroscience) and James McStravick (MRI Research Radiographer), who kindly showcased how they are pushing back the frontiers to conduct exciting health related research through active collaboration with the NHS, Industry and other academic partners across Greater Manchester.

The Institute brings together all aspects of sport, health and wellbeing research that harnesses new transdisciplinary approaches to the global challenges. Viewing sport and human physicality as a basis for utilising sport as a therapy, the Institute houses extensive expertise in neuroscience, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, nutrition, psychology, Magnetic Resonance Imaging as well as strength and conditioning, with 50 new academic staff appointed over the past three years.

We were first taken to an environmental chamber that can simulate extreme conditions, taking temperatures from as low as -20oC up to 50oC, elevation up to 5700m (equivalent to 10.3% O2 level), and humidity levels between 20-90%. A range of equipment can then be used to test the effects of different environmental conditions, such as heat, humidity, and altitude, on the body, to understand how it may react, acclimatise, and respond. With wide potential for gaining clinical insights, a recent example of its use includes a special heat training programme that was developed for World Cup referee Anthony Taylor, ahead of the tournament in Qatar.

Moving through the Institute, Dr Kennerley kindly showcased a range of cutting-edge scanners, including a 3 T Siemens Magnetom Vida MRI with head, heart, vascular and musculoskeletal scanning capability alongside fMRI, 31P, 13C and 23Na spectroscopy and MR compatible cycle ergometry for stress testing. A huge asset of the institute managed by an enthusiastic team, these exciting scanning facilities are an area where the team is keen to establish links with clinical and academic partners adding to existing areas of strength across Greater Manchester that delivers high quality research that has tangible genuine patient benefits.

Lastly, we were introduced to the Biomex Stair Negotiation Facility, a set of retractable stairs that can be used to detect steadiness and physiological responses. It works by placing sensors on the body of a person using the stairs, alongside pressure sensors, and accompanied motion tracking cameras, to build a picture of physiological changes and capabilities of participants. This facility supports research in a range of areas, including rehabilitation, reducing frailty and preventative measures for falls and resulting injury.

With a huge range of additional facilities, from specialist labs to state-of-the-art teaching spaces, we left with a clear understanding of how Manchester Met is uniting expertise across multiple disciplines and taking a collaborative approach to deliver high-quality research, that seeks to understand and find solutions to the most pressing healthcare problems in Greater Manchester and beyond.

It was a thoroughly interesting and thought-provoking afternoon, and we wanted to extend a huge thank you to the team at Manchester Met for welcoming us and showcasing a great new asset to Greater Manchester research and innovation ecosystem.

Are you interested in finding out more?

There is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the Institute of Sport in an upcoming ‘Patient PREHAB & REHAB: Research networking event’, taking place on Tuesday 28th Feb (5pm-7pm). The event includes insightful short talks in the areas of Prehabilitation, Metabolism & Obesity, Muscle Biology, Neuro, Cardiac and MSK MRI, alongside guided tours and opportunities to network and explore clinical collaborations across the GM region. You can register for the event here.

If you have any specific queries and would like to contact the Institute of Sport, please find contact details here.

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