Marion McMurdo is Professor of Ageing and Health at the University of Dundee. She tweets at @
No, I’m not splitting the atom, I’m not fiddling with genes, and I categorically guarantee that no molecules have been harmed as part of my research.
I’m a clinical academic in ageing research, and I’m having fun.
Yes, I appreciate that having fun at work is somewhat unusual, and is viewed with deep suspicion in many quarters. Like all my NHS colleagues in the Medicine of Old Age, I am a realistic optimist, and I have chosen to devote my academic career to clinical ageing research.
My team and I in Dundee Medical School do clinical trials, aimed at evaluating interventions (drugs, nutrition, exercise) designed to postpone disability in old age. The subgroup of the older population we target are the very old and often frail. Why this group? Because age is a leading risk factor for developing chronic diseases, and older people bear the greatest burden of ill health. Doctors need to be able to draw on good quality research to guide best practise, to flag new and more effective treatments, and to maximise health and independence.
And our specialty is rich in successful, pioneering clinical academics. The BMA recently published The Role of the Clinical Academic which identified 16 “inspirational UK clinical academic role models”, 2 of whom are researchers in the Medicine of Old Age. This recognition showcases a specialty that is punching above its weight academically, and highlights the value of patient-orientated health services research.
And why is it fun? Our research means working closely with older adults, which is a joy and a privilege. Applied research has an immediacy of impact on how health care is delivered. It matters today, it matters here and it matters now. It can change practice in the real world. This is heady stuff. Take the plunge and get involved.