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Professorial Lecture - Professor Graeme Close
Fri 31 March 2017, 17:30 – 19:00 BST
Lecture title - "Of muscles, mice and (very big) men"
Being an academic is certainly not something that came natural to me. My days at school were somewhat testing and I could not wait to leave to embark upon a professional rugby career. With thanks to some very special teachers, plus my parents, I somehow survived. Due to many twists and turns in my rugby career, I did return to University and start what I could only describe as the most amazing adventure – an adventure that becomes more exciting every day.
There are 2 consistent themes throughout my life, these being ‘muscle’ and ‘rugby’ and I am very fortunate that I get the opportunity to research these areas daily. My early research investigated the role of free radicals and antioxidants in exercise- induced muscle damage. This PhD, under the guidance of Professor MacLaren at LJMU sparked my interest in free radicals and I was very fortunate to then move to the world-renowned laboratories at The University of Liverpool to work with Professor’s McArdle and Jackson. Using mouse models, I was extremely fortunate to learn novel techniques in the assessment of free radicals in skeletal muscle where we investigated the basic mechanisms as to why we lose muscle mass with ageing.
In 2009 I returned to LJMU to translate some of this research into human ageing muscle where we performed muscle biopsies on elderly highly trained athletes. The research has demonstrated that exercise training does prevent some of the deleterious effects of ageing on muscle. I also developed a new area of interest, this being the role of vitamin D deficiencies on muscle function and repair following damaging exercise. We have provided mechanistic insights as to how vitamin D may influence muscle recovery. Being in a world class sport science department has allowed me to combine my childhood hobby (rugby) and career (science) and we have performed the first ever muscle biopsy studies on elite rugby players. These studies are now changing the nutritional guidelines in elite rugby. Finally, I am very fortunate that as well as being a research scientist, LJMU also allows me to deliver nutrition support to elite athletes. I currently work with England Rugby and Everton FC which allows me to take real world questions back to the laboratory to find novel solutions.
My inaugural professorial lecture will show my transition from rugby player to academic, outline some of my key research findings and give insights as to how I use this research to influence practice in professional sport, especially rugby giving thanks to some very influential people in my journey. The focus will be on muscles, mice and very big men.
Drinks reception will follow the lecture.