Julie Jones, a senior lecturer in RGU’s School of Health Sciences, has been awarded around £250,000 for the Clinical Academic Fellowship, which is the first of its kind received by a member of RGU and a rare achievement for an allied health practitioner.
The funding will allow Julie to take a sabbatical from teaching and focus on her PhD full-time for the next three years, as she works to revolutionise patient care in her particular field of physiotherapy.
Julie said: “There is much evidence that engaging in regular exercise has numerous benefits for Parkinson’s management – not solely as complementary to medication, but of equal importance.
“Exercise is clearly beneficial from a physical perspective, but there is a growing consensus that is leads to physiological changes within the brain that may have a disease modifying effect.”
As part of her work, Julie will be training fellow physiotherapists, alongside exercise coaches at RGU SPORT, on behavioural change and strategies to support people with Parkinson’s participate in the management of their condition.
This will lead to a feasibility study where a number of people living with Parkinson’s will track their own progress at RGU SPORT, while also examining the benefits of the additional social aspect of their treatment.
Julie added: “If this study proves successful and the participants show real progress having embedded exercise in their daily life, this approach could be rolled out wider across the NHS. By working directly with patients and the professionals who can best support them, we can make a real difference on the lives of people living with Parkinson’s.”
In addition to the organisations directly supporting Julie’s fellowship, this work will be undertaken in collaboration with the University of Aberdeen, Newcastle University and NHS Grampian – where Julie will spend part of each week in a clinical role.
RGU has a longstanding history of collaborating with partners regionally, nationally and internationally to deliver impactful research and solutions to healthcare challenges facing society.
Professor David Crossman, the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist for Health said: “We are delighted to partner with Parkinson’s UK to fund this exciting cross disciplinary multi-centre research. I’m confident that the outputs of this work have the potential to have a real and positive impact on the lives of those living with Parkinson’s.”
Annie Macleod, Director at Parkinson’s UK Scotland, said: “People with Parkinson’s increasingly tell us that their exercise regimes are as important and impactful as their medication. Parkinson’s UK is delighted that the CSO has joined us in funding a clinical research fellowship that has the potential to deliver real change for people with Parkinson’s and for the NHS.
“We are incredibly fortunate that Julie, who is such a renowned expert in her field and a well-kent face in the Parkinson’s community, is taking on this vital work and Parkinson’s UK will be doing all that we can to support her.”