The NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) has received more than €270,000 from the European Commission as a part of a multi-nation research project to promote citizen science.
Oxford’s involvement will entail the BRC and the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM) carrying our research into the role of steroid hormones in the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), obesity and type 2 diabetes.
This would be a first study undertaken with a citizen science approach in the domain of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism in general and NAFLD in particular.
The Oxford researchers include the BRC’s Chief Operating Officer, Dr Vasiliki Kiparoglou, BRC researcher Dr Syed Ghulam Sarwar Shah, and the BRC’s Theme Lead for Diabetes and Metabolism, Prof Jeremy Tomlinson,
The three-year €2.2m STEP-CHANGE project (Science Transformation in EuroPe through Citizens involvement in HeAlth, coNservation and enerGy rEsearch) is funding citizen science projects ten European and one African countries.
The EC says the project “is based on the assumption that citizen science can play an even broader societal and scientific role than it is generally acknowledged”. The selected projects are from areas like energy, health and the environment, “where human and non-human factors are deeply entangled” and “where citizen science can play a pivotal role, by making science more socially robust, inclusive and democratic”.
Dr Kiparoglou said: “We are delighted to be involved in this project. As a BRC we have been very keen not only to ensure that our research responds to the needs of society, but also to expand the involvement of the public in our research, so that they can help us to better identify priorities and improve our methodologies.
“The translational metabolic endocrinology research project we have proposed is perfectly suited for this kind of citizen science initiative.”
The OCDEM researcher are looking at the role of steroid hormones and their metabolism in the development, assessment and treatment of metabolic diseases including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Prof Tomlinson explained: “We are aiming to use this citizen science approach to develop a better understanding of the diurnal variation, along with circadian rhythm, of hepatic lipid metabolism in overweight patients in different types of conditions, before and after a lifestyle intervention a weight loss programme.
“For the first time, we will be able to integrate data collected in this area with other qualitative information related to daily life, wellbeing and lifestyles of the participants, allowing us to compare biomedical measurements with the patients’ daily experiences.”
The information gathered in this project will be incorporated into a wider research programme on “Metabolism and Steroid Hormone Biology” and will contribute to the development of new screening tools and novel interventions with the ultimate aim of improving patient care.