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Professor Michael Trenell

 Name: Professor Michael Trenell


Age range:36

Research institution: MoveLab, Newcastle University

Research career length: 10 years

Research Council: Research Councils UK (RCUK)
Medical Research Council (MRC)

Location: Newcastle, England

Brief summary of research: Physical Activity and Exercise

School qualifications:
“Being honest, I wasn't a really very good at school. I got one A and the rest of the grades were average - one of the ‘joys’ of being dyslexic!”

Qualifications post-school:
Awarded overseas scholarship in Australia
PhD in Neurogenetics and Biochemistry, Sydney University
MSc and BSc (Hons.) in Leeds

Career path:
Undergraduate Degree (Leeds)
Worked as a cook (Canada)
MSc Degree (Leeds)
Travelling between Canada and Australia
PhD Neurogenetics and Biochemistry (Australia)
Set up electronics company in Australia
Set up research team in Newcastle, UK - one of UK’s first clinical exercise research facilities
Professor of Movement and Metabolism

Despite a slow academic start, Michael Trenell has gone on to win a prestigious overseas academic scholarship, two leading UK research fellowships and was recently appointed to be one of the youngest Professors in Newcastle. He now runs one of the first clinical exercise research facilities in the UK. He is also a qualified cook.

Our work attempts to understand how physical activity, inactivity and exercise affect health and wellbeing. We carry out studies that look at the effects of exercise and physical activity on certain diseases, as well as how doing exercise affects the wellbeing of people of all ages. My role as Director of MoveLab, means I look after a team of researchers and other staff, as well as overseeing the scientific direction of the group. I manage its finances and lead fundraising. I am also responsible for the clinical aspects of the work.

During a typical working week, I will spend around 80 percent of my time as manager, leading the group and meeting with team members. Around 10 percent involves working with patients and approximately 30 percent of the time, writing academic papers - yes...I know that adds up to 120 percent, but the working week tends to blur into evenings, especially when writing papers and grant proposals.

“Some people dream of worthy accomplishments...others make them happen”

I attend around five conferences each year, and estimate that I make ten European visits each year, to discuss work with our collaborators. Typically, I might also be invited to speak at two major overseas events to present a leading lecture. My work is almost exclusively research, but I do undertake limited teaching.

I wasn't really very good at school. I got one A grade and the rest were average - one of the joys of being dyslexic! But I have managed to gain some success, partly through having been motivated by a number of people along the way, including leading academic physicians. They regularly reminded me of our ability to help people live healthier lives. Receiving positive feedback from patients also makes the research a lot of fun and brings it to life.

What I find most fulfilling is pushing myself and providing answers to questions that could potentially help people. I believe that science is one of the most exciting and valuable careers that you can do, not least because it’s all about teamwork, within an organisation and across institutions and nations.

My ambitions include helping people to sit less and move more (starting with myself), to work more collaboratively with teams across the UK and build stronger relationships with industrial partners to achieve this.

The most rewarding element of my job is working with patients – seeing someone improve their ability to walk or hearing them talk about how the programme helps them get more out of their everyday life is humbling. The privilege of work with and developing the next generation of clinical scientists comes a close second.


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