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Green Templeton College | Oxford

Islet cell with organelles showing location of UK Prospective Diabetes Study centres
Prepared for the UK Prospective Diabetes Study by Alison Barratt (artist)

Another GTC Research Talks symposium was held on May 25th, with a wide and sometimes unusual range of topics, and with close to 30 attendees throughout the day. Spirited discussions ensued after each talk, and more discussion occurred over lunch, for which the Principal was able to join us. A majority of formal talks in the afternoon was clinical. At the end of the day there was an informal discussion which mostly revolved around the talk on stroke thrombectomy by Gary Ford.

Professor Amir Amel-Zadeh3 [Said Business School]. (Mis)Information in Financial Markets. Companies routinely provide information to investors. Evidence on annual report disclosures, during acquisition announcements and after insider sales suggests investors pay limited attention to information disclosed less saliently. Companies exploit this by presenting advantageous information: emphasising positive news, disusing negative news, or giving misleading information.

Dr Mara Airoldi3 [Blavatnik School of Government]. People-powered priority setting in healthcare: Socio-Technical Allocation of Resources (STAR) is a decision support tool for those allocating scarce resources in healthcare in England and Italy. STAR’s simple visual aids help key stakeholders e.g., clinicians, patients, service providers and managers to discuss costs and health benefits in other ways to spend resources. Using the health economics principle of cost-effectiveness analysis it is accessible to non-specialists agreeing on resource allocations which give better value for money.

Dr Apostolos Tsiachristas4 [Nuffield Department of Population Health] Value for money of mental health services. Mental health conditions pose an increasing and substantial threat to population health and economy. Years of low prioritisation have led to underinvestment in mental health services relative to physical health services. In a series of studies, Apostolos showed that innovative mental health services focusing on prevention, early intervention, and care integration are cost-effective. Investing in mental health must go to the top of current policy and research agendas.

Professor Roger Zetter2 [Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford] Why They Are Not Climate or Environmental Refugees: The potential for environmental degradation and climate change to be instruments of population displacement is increasingly acknowledged. But the widely used labels of climate or environmental refugees to describe the displaced are problematic. The presentation offered conceptual, normative and empirical challenges to these labels.

Professor Robert Arnott4 [Historian of Ancient Medicine, Division of Medical Sciences, Oxford] Health, Identity and the Population of Crete in the Bronze Age: Mitochondrial DNA extracted from human skeletal remains was studied to identify population origins of Greece and the Aegean in the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC, tracing migrations that created Minoans and Mycenaeans. Research on the health of the Bronze Age population of Crete was also presented, using genetic evidence of diseases and disease patterns associated with migration to look at both nutrition and health.

Dr Sue Manley4 [Diabetes Translational Research Group, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham].
Diagnosis of Diabetes in Hospital Admissions: She outlined their research involving markers of blood glucose especially HbA1c. This marker has been introduced recently for diagnosis of diabetes in the community. The Diabetes Translational Research Group is auditing HbA1c measurement in hospital admissions as it is currently being considered for this purpose by the Joint British Diabetes Societies.

Professor Martin Williams3 [Blavatnik School of Government] Surprising Effects of Autonomy and Incentives in the Public Sector: Evidence from Nigeria and Ghana. We surveyed all senior civil servants in every ministry in Ghana’s central government, digitizing and hand-coding records of over 3,000 projects. Management practices giving workers greater autonomy associated positively with higher project completion rates, while practices associated with incentives and monitoring were negatively associated. Greater autonomy did not appear to lead to greater incidence of corruption.

Colin Harrison3 [Ashmolean Museum] Research and Public Service: the Conflicting Demands on a Museum Curator’s Time. The speaker illustrated some of his recent activities in the Ashmolean, among them acquisitions and exhibitions. He described the research undertaken at the Museo del Violino in Cremona of Stradivari's 'Messiah' of 1716, including CT scan, endoscopy, and analysis of materials, which resoundingly disprove long-held claims over its authenticity.

Dr Cammy Crolic3 [Said Business School] Hedonic Escalation: Enjoying Food More With Each Bite. The food industry claims to be able to sustain and even improve the liking of food throughout a meal. However, the existing literature shows that enjoyment declines with each bite. This research explores when liking for food increases, showing hedonic escalation. Hedonic escalation is more likely to occur when (1) a palatable food consists of a complex combination of flavours and (2) a person is motivated to taste additional flavours on each successive bite.

Professor Stéphane Bermon4 [Monaco Insitute of Sports Medicine and Surgery]. Despite improved detection methods, androgens are still widely used by athletes to enhance performance. These molecules, first synthesised for doping in the 50's, increase muscle and haemoglobin mass, but also favour aggressive and risk taking behaviours. Recent studies showed that ergogenic effects and some hepatic and reproductive side effects can last several years after cessation of consumption. Finally, antidoping statistics show female athletes are significantly exposed to androgen doping risk.

Dr Gwenaelle Douad3 [FMRIB, University of Oxford] Benefit of Using Brain Imaging on Individuals at Increased Risk for Dementia. Can the time gained by predicting progression to dementia at an early stage be used to slow disease progression? MRI scans can predict accurately who will develop Alzheimer’s >2 yrs before clinical signs appear. Thus people at risk might be treated 2 yrs in advance of major symptoms. Vit B treatment in patients with high homocysteine levels and mild cognitive impairment reduces, by ca.7-fold, brain atrophy in regions specifically vulnerable to Alzheimer's.

Professor Keith Hawton1 [Director, University’s Centre for Suicide Research] Restricted Pack Sizes of Paracetamol: Why and With What Effect on Public Health? Restriction of access to means for a suicidal act is an effective means of suicide prevention. In the 1990s, there were major concerns about the increasing problem of paracetamol overdoses in the UK. Resultant legislation in 1998 restricted pack sizes of paracetamol sold over the counter in pharmacies and non-pharmacy outlets. This appears to show evidence in terms of positive benefits on reduced deaths and liver damage.

James Sheppard2 [Nuffield Dept of Primary Care Health Sciences] Blood Pressure Measurement in the Doctor’s Surgery – is it a Waste of Time? Blood pressure is traditionally measured and managed in a GP’s office in Primary Care. However, measurement over a 24-hour period provides a more accurate estimate of an individual’s true blood pressure, and the underlying risk of stroke. We have developed a statistical model which predicts an individual’s 24-hour blood pressure from office readings and patient characteristics, allowing better targeting of blood pressure lowering therapy.

Professor Gary Ford1 [Chief Executive Officer Oxford Academic Health Science Network] Stroke Thrombectomy – Challenges of Implementing a Disruptive Innovation. Thrombectomy for stroke is an innovative therapy much more effective than thrombolysis at opening blocked arteries: it involves insertion of an expandable metal stent into the occluded artery, leading to a substantial increase in the likelihood of surviving without long term disability. However, many barriers exist in the NHS to delivering thrombectomy to the 10,000 stroke patients in the UK who would benefit each year.

1Governing Body Member; 2Senior Research Fellow; 3Research Fellow; 4Common Room Member

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