NEW PUBLICATION! – Association of Sex with Adolescent Soccer Concussion Incidence and Characteristics
Our own Dr Willie Stewart (@WillStewNeuro) worked with colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania, Dr Abigail Bretzin (@bretzina) and Dr Doug Wiebe (@douglaswiebe), to present findings that highlight the importance of sex-specific research in this field. The paper, published here, demonstrated that teenage girls are at double the risk of concussion playing football compared to boys.
The story was picked up by several major news outlets, including the BBC and The Guardian!
GBIRG welcomes a new member!
In April we welcomed the latest member of the Glasgow Brain Injury Research Group, PhD student Samuel Jones! Prior to this, Sam studied for a Bachelors in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and a Masters degree in Translational Neuropathology, both at the University of Sheffield. Sam’s PhD research will be focused on the relationship between traumatic brain injury, primarily sustained through participation in contact sports, and development of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
Sam has previously worked within NHS laboratories and joins us from Abingdon Health, an immunoassay manufacturer at the forefront of the UK Rapid Test Consortium.
Here at GBIRG, it’s unsurprising that we love brains. They’re utterly fascinating, complex, and astounding in their potential. So whether you’ve got a neurodivergent or a neurotypical brain, we think ‘that thing in your noggin’ is just plain brilliant!
GBIRG celebrates International Day of Women in Science!
Our team is magnificent, and all the more for the inclusion of women – diversity will always help further the advancement of important scientific research, and we’re proud to be a part of the movement! Thank you to all who encourage and support the wonderful women and girls who choose science.
Increased media attention on heading in football and concussion in rugby
Our intrepid leader, Dr Willie Stewart, was in high demand this month after the high-profile death of Nobby Stiles and widely-publicised dementia diagnosis of footballing legend Sir Bobby Charlton. Former England rugby player, Steve Thompson, also spoke openly for the first time on his experience with head injury and being diagnosed with early onset dementia
Click the image below for one of Dr Willie Stewart’s appearances (note on reporting error: Dr Stewart is based at the University of Glasgow, not Edinburgh)
Work with us!
FULLY FUNDED PHD – Traumatic brain injury related neurodegeneration
An exciting opportunity to work with Glasgow Brain Injury Research Group, the University of Glasgow, and contribute massively to the CONNECT-TBI project
GBIRG welcomes two Visiting Students
We are excited to welcome Bess Bickel and Monique Raranga into our midst! Both are students hoping to learn more about working in a research lab.
Due to covid-19 it will be a different kind of learning experience than anyone expected, but we’re looking forward to it all the same!
“Mental health and suicide in former professional soccer players” published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry on 21 July 2020.
Despite high neurodegenerative disease mortality in former pro soccer players, hospital admission for common mental health disorders were lower in this group than population controls.
It’s the 4th paper from the #FIELD study, and the 3rd paper from our own Emma Russell’s PhD!
Our own Dr Willie Stewart and Dr Doug Smith (University of Pennsylvania) wrote this article asserting that “[in] current usage, ‘concussion’ describes a clinical presentation, but does not identify the underlying pathological process and therefore cannot be considered a true diagnosis. However, mounting evidence indicates diffuse axonal injury as a likely pathological substrate for concussion, thereby providing a framework to develop true diagnostic criteria.”
Published in Nature Reviews Neurology @NatRevNeurol
Back to the lab – hooray!
As with so many other areas of research, our workflow has been heavily disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, and you’ll have seen a decrease in our online activity in recent months while we began dialling back our workload to what was achievable in the new climate.
Well, we’re excited to say that we’re now easing back into a socially-distant work pattern, allowing us to get back to the research we’re passionate about; this includes finally being back at the lab – complete with our snazzy ‘If In Doubt Sit Them Out’ facemasks (and in Willie’s case the accompanying bobble hat)!
You should be seeing more activity from us soon as we get back into the swing of things, so be sure to check here and follow us on Twitter for the latest news.
Our new Research Associate, Kamar Ameen-Ali, joins the team! Albeit remotely for the time being…
GBIRG welcomes Rebecca Hogben to the team as new Admin Assistant!
Rebecca has worked in a variety of public-facing management roles throughout a colourful career. She spent many years working for Oxfam, recruiting and training volunteers as part of several fundraising initiatives before moving on to lead public outreach strategies as a Community Manager for a board games publisher.
Rebecca has now joined GBIRG to help the smooth running of everyday operations for the researchers, and increasing public engagement to raise awareness of brain injury research.
GBIRG sits down with Shane Williams and crew to discuss concussion and late effects in sport
Had a wonderful time meeting rugby player Shane Williams – we very much look forward to seeing the final film airing this week.
Shane Williams: Concussion, Rugby, and Me
We are pleased to welcome Dr. Craig McKittrick to the Glasgow Brain Injury Research Group!
Craig spent almost five years as a post-doctoral researcher at Strathclyde, working between Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences (SIPBS) and the Department of Biomedical Engineering. At SIPBS, Craig investigated the use of stem cells and biomaterials for post-stroke neurorepair. During his time with the Glasgow Brain Injury Research Group Craig will investigate amyloid beta processing following traumatic brain injury.
GBIRG’s Newest Team Member
The GBIRG team is happy to welcome Claire, who has been appointed as a research technician in our lab!
Claire’s experience includes working for the NHS as a Senior Rehabilitation Technician and we are thrilled to have her on board! Her role at GBIRG will include processing tissue, maintaining the lab and looking after our Traumatic Brain Injury Archive.
Discussing Concussion on Women’s Hour on BBC Radio
A huge thanks to the hosts of Women’s Hour, who spoke with Dr Stewart about concussions in women and why further research in this area is crucial.
The response to this talk was overwhelming and we are grateful for every single person, who contacted us after listening to tell us their concussion story.
A link to the talk can be found here. Full segment between 10:13 and 22:29.
GBIRG takes the #PINKBrainPledge
We are excited to announce our support for much-needed research into female brain injuries due to sports concussion, domestic violence, accidents, military service, etc. Women from all over the world will be encouraged to donate their brains to help study the effects of brain injury, including its link to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE.
If you wish to support our research through a brain donation, please visit our register page: https://gbirg.inp.gla.ac.uk/register/
UK Sports Concussion Research Symposium 2019
This year’s symposium was held on the 27th of November at the lovely home of English Rugby – Twickenham Stadium. Research groups in the field of sports science and medicine presented updates on their studies. Sports, such as rugby, cricket, motorsport and horseracing were included. The Glasgow team presented recently published FIELD study results and an update on HEADER.
Dr Stewart discussed the findings of GBIRG’s latest paper on neurodegenerative disease in former professional football players. Emma showed an insight into the new paper for the FIELD research, she is working on, which focuses on mental health in the same football cohort.
More information and photos from the day can be found on Twitter, using the hashtag #UKSCRS19.
Latest research paper released from the FIELD study – 21/10/2019
“In this retrospective epidemiologic analysis, mortality from neurodegenerative disease was higher and mortality from other common diseases lower among former Scottish professional soccer players than among matched controls. Dementia-related medications were prescribed more frequently to former players than to controls. These observations need to be confirmed in prospective matched-cohort studies. (Funded by the Football Association and Professional Footballers’ Association.)”
Read the full article, published in the NEJM here.
The University of Glasgow’s complete press release and additional comments can be found here.
Photos courtesy of UofG
Welcome to our new team member – Victoria!
We welcome our newest recruit – Victoria, to the GBIRG team. Victoria gained her BSc(Hons) in Anatomy, before working as part of the Forensic Medicine team at the University of Glasgow. Here at GBIRG, Victoria’s role will be liaising with the Biorepository to aid tissue donation for research, processing tissue for histological analysis and working on her project to discover the mechanisms of self-repair in the human brain after a traumatic brain injury.
Alzheimer’s Research UK Scotland Network Centre meeting, St Andrews
This year’s annual centre Alzheimer’s Research UK meeting was held on Aug 20th -21st in the Byre Theatre, St Andrews, and comprised of a variety of talks from a range of dementia-related researchers, including Hannah and Emma, who presented updates on their current work. On day one, there was a full day of talks, followed by a poster session, and then some evening entertainment in the form of the famous Professor Frank-Gunn-Moore quiz. Day two consisted of morning talks, followed by a shorter afternoon session – which left plenty of time to explore the lovely St Andrews.
National Neurotrauma Symposium 2019, Pittsburgh, PA
This year, Dr Stewart, Hannah Morgan, and Emma Russell all attended the National Neurotrauma symposium from June 29th to July 3rd, which was held in Pittsburgh, PA. Hannah presented a 2-minute Data blitz talk on the effects of acute TBI on amyloid-beta deposition in an aged cohort. Both Hannah and Emma presented posters at the posters sessions – Hannah’s poster focused on amyloid-beta deposition following TBI, and Emma’s poster focused on the lifelong health outcomes of soccer players.
There were a variety of great talks presented this year – ranging from late neurological outcomes following repetitive TBI, to the sex differences in TBI.
This year’s TEAM networking and mentoring event was held at LumberjAxes, Pittsburgh. We had great fun axe throwing – and Hannah even competed in the axe throwing tournament!
You can read the exhibited abstracts here.
Another great day for GBIRG at the Scottish Dementia Research Consortium (SDRC) this year, with a poster on the TBI archive and the FIELD study, as well as a presentation on the work carried out at GBIRG on TBI pathology by PhD student Hannah Morgan.
There were numerous 4 minute flash talks by PhD students during the day, and a variety of posters summarising various large cohorts used in research across Scotland. The day ended with a panel discussion about whether thinking about degenerative brain disease through the dementia prism is holding us back, leading to some interesting conversations. We look forward to next year’s conference!
Amanda Kopel’s Visit
Amanda Kopel from Frank’s Law came to visit the lab in March to see some of the ongoing research and make a generous donation to future work. This came from the Frank’s Law sporting dinner held in October 2018 fundraising to support the work of Alzheimer’s Scotland, the University of Dundee, and GBIRG. It was a fantastic evening with many wonderful signed items from various athletes
It was fascinating to hear about the work carried out over 6 years by Amanda in her campaign against age discrimination in care, following the diagnosis of her husband – Frank Law, ex-Dundonian footballer, with dementia at the age of 59. This campaign has resulted in Frank’s Law coming into effect from the 1st April; a law to provide free care to under-65s with degenerative brain diseases including dementia, Parkinson’s and motor neurone disease. We are honoured that she has chosen to support the work carried out by GBIRG and know that this will help with our vital research.
GBIRG were delighted to hold the first Scottish Cognitive Outcomes from Brain Injury Consortium (SCOBIC) meeting at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on the 17th January, supported by the Scottish Dementia Research Consortium (SDRC) and Alzheimer’s Scotland. This exciting meeting included sessions on current understanding in brain injury and neurodegeneration, lifelong outcomes after participation in sport, and talks from junior researchers about ongoing research.
The conference was chaired by Dr William Stewart, alongside Professor Craig Ritchie, and there were numerous fascinating talks from multiple different research groups, including talks from two of our PhD students; Hannah Morgan and Emma Russell. The conference aimed to start discussions in this area.
It was a very successful meeting and we hope to see everyone again at the next one!
Visit from Pink Concussions
GBIRG were very excited to meet the founder of Pink Concussions Katherine Snedaker. Pink concussions aim to improve education and awareness about head injury in women and girls. Stay tuned to hear more about our exciting partnership!
Alzheimer’s Society Elf Day Bake Sale!
GBIRG’s elves worked hard in the kitchen baking some delicious festive treats to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society. It was a sell out and they managed to raise £262!!
GBIRG New Recruit!
Dr Lindsey Forbes has joined as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant. Dr Forbes gained her PhD from the University of St Andrews earlier this year researching stem cell transplantation for repair of the spinal cord after injury. Her research interests lie in understanding the mechanisms that underpin neurodegeneration following injury and disease as well as methods to promote regeneration.
UofG Paediatric Research Day
The lab attended an exciting and interesting meeting to discuss paediatric research with topics ranging from gene delivery to neurotoxicity and human empathy.
Dr Fullerton presented her data on blood-brain barrier disruption following TBI in paediatric patients.
There was an inspiring plenary speaker, Professor Solomon Moshe from Albert Einstein Medical School, New York, presenting his interesting research on paediatric epilepsy.
Introducing….. Dr Hay!
Exciting news to announce from the GBIRG…
Jennifer Hay has passed her PhD viva with minor corrections! We are all so proud of her, and the hard work she has put into her PhD and thesis! Wishing her the all the best for her future aspirations as Dr Hay!
Congratulations from us all at the GBIRG!
International Neurotrauma Symposium 2018, Toronto
In August, Dr Stewart, Dr Fullerton and Hannah Morgan set off to the beautiful city of Toronto to attend International Neurotrauma Symposium 2018. The diverse program of plenary seminars, speakers, poster and break-out sessions proved to make a inspiring, interesting and informative meeting.
A central focus of INTS were the highly interactive poster sessions, in which Hannah presented her study entitled “Traumatic brain injury is not associated with an adaptive immune cell infiltrate in humans” which attracted a great deal of interest and attention – and she greatly enjoyed the experience!
Dr Fullerton’s poster entitled “Catastrophic disruption of the blood-brain barrier in pediatric TBI” was nominated as a top 20 poster competition finalists, and won 1st prize poster award sponsored by the European Brain Consortium – she was thrilled!
Overall it was a fantastic meeting, and the GBIRG can’t wait for National Neurotrauma 2019 in Pittsburgh!
Alzheimer’s Research UK Scottish Network Meeting
On the 21st August, Dr Fullerton presented her work at the ARUK Scottish Network Meeting in the Byre theatre in St Andrews. Dr Fullerton discussed her data on the vascular pathologies of traumatic brain injury and how they relate to Alzheimer’s disease; her talk was well received and generated a number of interesting questions and discussions.
In addition, Dr Fullerton has become ARUK’s Early Career Researcher representative for Glasgow, and will be organising an ECR event with the rest of the panel for the end of November – details to follow!
Alzheimer’s Society Bake Sale
On the 15th June, the GBIRG held a bake sale to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. The cakes ranged from Guinness cake to vegan banana cupcakes, and it was a huge success! In just two hours the bake sale raised nearly £300! Thank you very much for your kind donations and support, we look forward to CupcakeDay2019!
Pint of Science 2018
Dr Fullerton had far too much fun at Pint of Science 2018 at the Raven this month! Her presentation ‘Sports concussion & dementia: what to believe?’ brought up some interesting discussion points with a very enthusiastic audience. Surprisingly, 60% of the audience voted to ban heading in youth football, with only 8% voting that we do not have enough evidence! Furthermore, 50% of the audience voted that footballers are at a greater risk of dementia, while 36% stated that more research is required. Dr Fullerton left them with the take home message that more research is definitely required!! Find out when a Pint of Science event is taking place near a you!
Trainee student visit
Chloe is a Foundation year 2 Doctor and for her final rotation of her training she has joined the Glasgow Brain injury Research Group to undertake a research project in traumatic brain injury in the elderly. Prior to joining the GBIRG, Chloe completed a BSc (Hons) in Medical Science 2006-2010 and MSc Human Anatomy 2010-2011 at the University of Edinburgh followed by a MBBS medical degree at the Hull York Medical School. She has a special interest in neuroscience with both her science degree dissertation projects in neurodevelopment. Her ambition is to become a paediatric neurosurgeon and she will be starting neurosurgery training in Leeds from August 2018.
Scottish Dementia Research Consortium 2018
This April, the GBIRG team attended the SDRC conference at the Radisson Blu hotel in Glasgow. This one-day event strongly focused on collaborative interdisciplinary research, and included 3-minute thesis presentations, posters and early career researcher discussions – and a rather helpful panel discussion! The conference certainly left members of the GBIRG feeling inspired and focused to further investigate the link between traumatic brain injury and neurodegeneration. For further information on the SDRC please check out their website.
“Get’cha head in the game: Tackling sports concussion”
Our Edinburgh International Science Festival event has been and gone! It was a brilliant night, kicked off with Dr Stewart’s presentation “If 99% of athletes will get degenerative brain disease, is it time to ban contact sports?” and followed by a great panel session with Nuala Deans (British Paralympic Association and ex-Scotland rugby player), Dr Alan Carson (Neuropsychiatrist and lecturer), Dr Geoff Cross (FY1 in medicine and ex-Scotland rugby player) and Peter Robinson (concussion campaigner), the discussion was led by Jamie Lyall, sports journalist from BBC Scotland. The audience posed some fantastic questions to the panel, and we were thrilled with the turn out! The GBIRG are grateful for the support of the Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund which allowed this event to take place.
Neuroscience Careers Conference
At the Lighthouse in Glasgow, the University of Glasgow’s Neuroscience Society held their annual Neuroscience Careers Conference. The meeting was well attended, and covered a variety of topics from ‘Challenges of Research’ presented by Dr Fullerton, to a PhD student panel for Q&A session – which included our own PhD student Hannah Morgan. It was a brilliant event, and brought up a great deal of interesting conversation topics and questions. Check out the photos from the event on the Neuroscience Society’s Facebook page!
Two weeks to our Edinburgh Science Festival evening event “Get’cha head in the game: Tackling sports concussion”.
Tickets are limited, and reported to be selling fast.
For full details and ticket booking information see Edinburgh Science Festival website
The FIELD study launches
January marks the start of our study ‘Football’s InfluencE on Lifelong health and Dementia (FIELD)’, which is supported by The Football Association and Professional Footballer’s Association.
Given growing anxieties over perceived increased risk of dementia in former professional footballers, establishing robust data on late neurodegenerative outcomes of participation in football is a priority to inform public health policy, and the sport. Importantly, insight into risk of neurodegenerative disease must be read in context of wider lifelong health outcomes to permit adequately informed discussions on the public health implications of football participation.
The FIELD Study is designed to investigate a wide range of physical and mental health outcomes, including neurodegenerative disease, in former professional footballers.
In addition, we are hoping to register as many former athletes exposed to brain injury, including but not restricted to footballers, rugby players and boxers, to our brain donation programme to support ongoing research into degenerative brain disease linked to brain injury.
For more information on the FIELD Study, please visit: gbirg.inp.gla.ac.uk/the-field-study/
For more information on registering for brain donation, please visit: https://gbirg.inp.gla.ac.uk/register-for-brain-donation/
Fellowship student visit
In January, the Glasgow Brain Injury Research Group welcomed John Arena, fellowship student from the University of Pennsylvania, to the lab.
During his visit John contributed to ongoing studies in GBIRG and gained experience in working with the Glasgow TBI Archive. There was also time for a break from bench work to take in a Glasgow Warriors match and see professional rugby first hand.
GBIRG Newest recruit
The GBIRG are happy to announce that Tess Atkinson has been recruited as our laboratory technician!
In 2016, Tess joined the group for a summer internship in Neuropathology, and we are thrilled that she is now a full-time member of our team!
GBIRG welcomes RSN to lab
The Glasgow Brain Injury Research Group were delighted to welcome recently retired Pau and Canada rugby player Cameron Pierce of The Rugby Safety Network (RSN) to the lab to discuss concussion in sport, player welfare and our ongoing research.
Plans for further discussion and collaboration between GBIRG and RSN are in the pipeline, watch this space for updates.
Alan Shearer: Dementia, Football and Me set for transmission Sunday 12th November, BBC One 1030.pm – 11.30pm
Glasgow Paediatric Research Day 2017
On Friday 10th November, Dr Fullerton presented a talk on ‘Paediatric head injury in the West of Scotland’ at Glasgow Paediatric Research day 2017. She discussed some surprising data on the distribution of head injury in the West of Scotland and the mechanisms of injury that are involved – and won 1st prize for her presentation!
Funding for post-traumatic epilepsy research
Dr Willie Stewart, Honorary Clinical Associate Professor, Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, and collaborators at the University of Pennsylvania have been successful in securing funding from Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) to support a three year programme of collaborative studies directed towards understanding the ‘Neuropathological mechanisms of epileptogenesis in post-traumatic epilepsy’.
Post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE) represents a frequent and debilitating complication of traumatic brain injury (TBI), and is implicated in an estimated 5% of all epilepsy in the community. In contrast to non-traumatic epilepsy, the neuropathology of PTE remains virtually unreported in the literature. Utilising the unique resources of the Glasgow TBI archive, Dr Stewart and colleagues will coordinate a series of studies intended to characterise the spectrum of pathology in survivors of PTE.
New addition to the G.B.I.R.G…
Tess Atkinson recently graduated from Glasgow University with a Masters in Neuroscience and has joined the G.B.I.R.G for a summer Internship. Tess previously worked in the University of Maastricht researching post-traumatic stress disorder and Dr Cobb’s lab at the University of Glasgow researching Rett’s Syndrome. She is particularly interested in the pathology of disease and brain disorders – so she is in the right place! We are happy to have her on board and hope she enjoys her time here!
Heading for trouble: is dementia a game changer for football?
The recent spark in media coverage on the potential link between heading and dementia has dramatically increased public interest, but has left a number of unanswered questions.
The recently published editorial ‘Heading for trouble: is dementia a game changer for football?’discusses the current position of science on heading, and the link between football, dementia and CTE.
Click here for full text
National Neurotrauma Society Symposium 2017
At almost 8,000ft above sea level Dr Stewart and Dr Fullerton attended the National Neurotrauma Society symposium in Snowbird, Utah. NNS put together an exciting symposium comprised of plenary seminars and break-out sessions where world leading experts shared their opinions, most recent research and findings on neurotrauma.
A central focus of Neurotrauma 2017 was the highly interactive poster sessions, in which Dr Fullerton presented her poster “Traumatic brain injury survival is associated with widespread cerebral amyloid angiopathy”.
The innovative workshops covered pivotal topics from writing effective publications and grants to improving scientific communication. Dr Stewart held a successful workshop on Human TBI Neuropathology which stimulated discussions on the mechanisms, histology and assessment of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Alan Shearer: ‘Dementia: Football’s Silent Shame?’
Former England captain, Alan Shearer visited the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital to film his BBC One documentary on research linking football and dementia.
“The more I read about it, the more I felt this was a subject that could no longer be ignored.” – Shearer
The ex-Newcastle and Blackburn striker interviewed Dr Willie Stewart in a bid to find out if footballers are more at risk from suffering dementia in later life.
After a tour around the lab, Shearer and Dr Stewart discussed topics from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and concussion, to research priorities in sports traumatic brain injury (TBI) and outcomes for players.
Without giving too much away, Shearer’s BBC One documentary ‘Dementia: Football’s Silent Shame?’ will be aired late summer.
Dr Willie Stewart secures funding from US National Institute of Neurological Disorders
Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology Honorary Clinical Associate Professor Dr Willie Stewart and collaborators at the University of Pennsylvania have been successful in securing funding from the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to support a five year programme of multi-centre collaborative studies directed towards the Neuropathological Characterization of ‘CTE’ (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy).
They have also been awarded funding to continue their ongoing research programme titled ‘TBI (traumatic brain injury) and Amyloid-Beta Pathologies’ for a further five years. In these ongoing studies, Dr Stewart’s lab will explore pathways contributing to amyloid genesis and clearance after TBI, in particular, the contribution of vascular pathology to post-TBI neurodegeneration