ApconiX Sponsors PhD Seminar Day Awards

PhD Student Awards

The Pharmacology and Therapeutics Department of the University of Liverpool held a Postgraduate Seminar Day on the December 12th, 2022, at the Radisson Blu in Old Hall Street Liverpool.

ApconiX was delighted to sponsor the awards of best University of Liverpool PGR Pharmacology Seminar Day Basic Science and Clinical Presentations.  The awards were presented by Professor Dean Naisbitt, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics and Dr Sean Hammond, Immunotoxicology Lead at ApconiX.  Sean completed his BSc and PhD at the University and continues to have close ties with the Department.

University of Liverpool PGR Pharmacology Seminar Day

The seminar day was an opportunity for all first and second year PhD students to give a short presentation of their research to date.  30 students gave talks on their projects and postgraduate students and lecturers also attended the day.  The talks spanned very broad subjects from the treatment of HIV in pregnancy, to adverse drug reactions in patients treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors, to the challenges of patients with multimorbidity and the treatment of liver cancer.

Dean commented, “It is good to get the students presenting in a face-to-face setting again.  We haven’t been able to hold these seminars properly for three years.  It’s been a thought provoking day and an excellent opportunity for students to be quizzed in a safe environment by their peers.”

Sean added, “The day is always a good experience for students, for some this is their first conference-like talk experience and as such it prepares them well for when they take their research findings on tour.   The collaborative exchange of ideas is always great to see, and students often come away from the day with valuable feedback.”

Thoughts from the Day

Sean was joined by Hannah Jennings and Dr Cynara Livera.  Hannah who also studied at the University of Liverpool, gaining a BSc in Biochemistry and a MSc in Advanced Biological Sciences.

Hannah reflecting on the day, said, “All of the students presented very well, seemed to enjoy the day and really engaged with each other in the spirit of the event.  As a former student of the University, I was proud to see the students speaking so passionately about the brilliant and innovative scientific research they have dedicated their time to. As a scientist that has yet to embark on my own PhD journey, I found the enthusiasm and drive of the students presenting yesterday particularly inspiring and motivational. They are a credit to the University, and I wish them every success in the future.”

Cynara added, “Being a chemist rather than a biologist I was a little worried the discussions would be over my head.  I must confess than some of it was, but the talks were a fascinating insight into the research being carried out at Liverpool.  The presentations were very diverse, very well delivered and extremely topical.”

The Awards

Hannah Coghlan was awarded best University of Liverpool PGR Pharmacology Seminar Day Basic Science Presentation for her talk on “Unravelling species differences in stress responses to inform the selection, and reduce the use, of animals in preclinical drug safety testing”.

Molecular stress response pathways have been demonstrated to play a role in the progression of and response to drug-induced liver injury (DILI) caused by a variety of different compounds. However, the capacity of a species to activate these pathways in response to DILI is not currently a factor considered when selecting a model species for preclinical toxicology studies, which may influence the accuracy and translatability of preclinical drug safety studies to humans. Recent evidence has shown that two important preclinical species – mice and rats – have significantly different hepatic stress response capacity, which may underly the greater tolerance to cell stress in rat than mouse. Hannah’s research aims to evaluate whether comparable differences in hepatic stress response capacity exist between these rodent species, a range of important non-rodent preclinical species, including macaques, dogs and mini-pigs, and humans to help inform which species may be most appropriate for use during preclinical species selection.

Bethany Facer was awarded best University of Liverpool PGR Pharmacology Seminar Day Clinical Presentation for her talk on “In-vivo dissection of white matter pathways in Parkinson’s disease: tracking progressive degeneration and biomarkers of symptomatology”.

Bethany’s research involves determining the relationship between progressive white matter tract deterioration and motor and cognitive deficits in patients with a new diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, using retrospective data from the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative. In the next step we plan to apply state-of-the-art experimental imaging approaches, in a similar cohort, to assess changes in the inter and intra axonal make up as well as the distribution of abnormal metabolite concentrations. The goal being to better understand disease progression and mechanisms of change during the disease course.

ApconiX was very pleased to be able to sponsor the awards and wishes Hannah, Bethany and all the PhD students the very best as they continue their research.