Centre for Physical Activity and Life Sciences (PALS)
About the Centre for Physical Activity and Life Sciences
Understanding the factors that influence health is essential to improve quality of life and provide personal and societal benefit. The Centre for Physical Activity and Life Sciences (PALS), located within the Faculty of Health, Education and Society, brings together researchers examining multidisciplinary physical activity interventions in sedentary, active and clinical populations, and examines the microbiological, genetic and molecular aspects of disease progression to target national and global challenges to health. We are developing novel interventions to improve community-based and primary healthcare patients health outcomes in a range of neuromuscular diseases and disorders associated with age including sarcopenia, osteoporosis, cancer, and hypertension.
The Centre activities are focussed around three Special Interest Groups (SIG):
The Molecular Bioscience SIG led by Prof Karen Anthony and Assoc Prof Jamal Nasir focusses on molecular and cellular aspects of health. Specifically, antimicrobial resistance, infection control and molecular mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis, clinical genetics and genomics, immunogenetics and RNA-based gene therapy in a range of populations including cancer biology, neuromuscular and neurodegenerative disorders.
The Sport & Exercise Medicine SIG led by Dr Anthony Baross focusses on physical exercise interventions to improve health. Specifically, tendinopathy, muscle strain, exercise-induced muscle damage, and age-related conditions including sarcopenia, osteoporosis, cognitive impairment, balance and falls, and hypertension.
The Interdisciplinary Physical Activity & Health Promotion SIG led by Dr Declan Ryan focusses on quantitative and qualitive research methods to improve health. Specifically, the role of green social prescription, dancing, active travel, and physical activity throughout the life-course to enhance population health and wellbeing outcomes.
Centre for Physical Activity and Life Sciences Leadership
- Professor Tony Kay – PALS Research Centre Leader
- Professor Karen Anthony – MB Special Interest Group Co-Leader
- Associate Professor Jamal Nasir -MB Special Interest Group Co-Leader
- Dr Tony Baross – SEM Special Interest Group Leader
- Dr Declan Ryan – IPAHP Special Interest Group Leader
View our other University Membership on Pure.
The Centre has ongoing partnerships with several regional healthcare, cultural, governmental, and physical activity organisations including Northampton General Hospital, Public Health Northamptonshire, Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust, General Practice Alliance, Northamptonshire Sport, Trilogy Leisure, Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Partnership, and West Northamptonshire Council.
RNA processing of the brain dystrophin isoform Dp71
Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a fatal childhood genetic disorder. It is caused by the body-wide absence of a muscle protein called dystrophin. Alongside muscle symptoms; the loss of dystrophin in the brain leads to intellectual disability and conditions like autism. But what does a muscle protein do in the brain? We understand very little about how dystrophin is made in the brain and what it does there. Our project will use cell models of the nervous system as well as patient cells and data to fill this urgent gap in knowledge. To achieve the best possible quality of life we need to tackle every element of Duchenne. This project will inform the development of effective brain-targeting treatments.
Promoting physical activity participation within green and blue spaces in a COVID-19 era.
This research investigates the effect that a new formalised walking and running route within a public park has on the local community’s physical activity participation and self-rated health and wellbeing. The role of the built and natural environment to improve population health and wellbeing has had an increased policy focus in recent years (Sport England, 2019; MHC&LG, 2019; Public Health England, 2016). The findings from this research will identify whether a retro-fit built environment intervention has merit to be scaled-up across the county’s public parks to improve visitation, physical activity participation, and health and wellbeing. Northamptonshire Public Health have already identified the potential benefits that this research could bring to their policy, strategies, and investment decisions.
DLAB: Digital Learning Across Boundaries
The project addresses the need to align European educational practice with ways in which digital technology is changing how and what we learn, and how we apply this in education. The purpose of this project is to promote digital learning across the boundaries of physical spaces, across curriculum subjects and across languages and cultures, to facilitate collaborative learning across national boundaries. Over three years we have adopted three ‘learning across boundaries’ themes:
- Technology Outdoors: bridging formal and informal learning by extending learning beyond traditional classroom spaces and supporting learners with disadvantaged backgrounds by managing transitions positively through collaborative outdoor learning experiences.
- Stem to SteAm: adding the Arts to the integrated study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths creating inter-disciplinary challenge-based online learning resources.
- Technology Enabled CLIL: using curriculum contexts to teach language competencies and cultural sensitivity with aim of meeting the language needs of a diversity of learners, including learners for whom English is an additional language (EAL/EFL).
Find out more about our Centre’s projects.
An Investigation into Helmet Use, Perceptions of Sports-Related Concussion, and Seeking Medical Care for Head Injury amongst Competitive Cyclists. Hardwicke, J., Baxter, B. A., Gamble, T. & Hurst, H., 1 Mar 2022, In: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 19, 5, 2861.
An investigation into masculinity amongst competitive road cyclists. Hardwicke, J., 17 Mar 2022, (Accepted/In press) In: Journal of Emerging Sport Studies.
A Survey of Machine Learning Approaches Applied to Gene Expression Analysis for Cancer Prediction
Khalsan, M., Machado, L., SALIH AL-SHAMERY, EMAN., Ajit, S., Anthony, K., Mu, M. & Opoku Agyeman, M., 18 Mar 2022, In: IEEE Access.
Changemakers as digital makers: Connecting and cocreating. Whewell, E., Caldwell, H., Frydenberg, M. & Andone, D., 24 Jan 2022, In: Education and Information Technologies. 23 p.
COLLAGEN GENE POLYMORPHISMS PREVIOUSLY ASSOCIATED WITH RESISTANCE TO SOFT-TISSUE INJURY ARE MORE COMMON IN COMPETITIVE RUNNERS THAN NON-ATHLETES
Dines, H., Lockey, S., Herbert, A., Kipps, C., Pedlar, C., Day, S., Heffernan, S., Antrobus, M., Brazier, J., Erskine, R., Stebbings, G., Hall, E. & Williams, A., 13 Mar 2022, (Accepted/In press) In: Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Concussion-associated gene variant COMT rs4680 is associated with elite rugby athlete status
Antrobus, M., Brazier, J., Callus, P., Herbert, A., Stebbings, G., Day, S., Kilduff, L., Bennett, M., Erskine, R., Raleigh, S., Collins, M., Pitsiladis, Y., Heffernan, S. & Alun, W., 29 Mar 2022, (E-pub ahead of print) In: Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.