Stephanie Dakin is an Associate Professor in Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology & Musculoskeletal Sciences (NDORMS), and an Oxford-UCB Fellow. She discusses the value she has found in working with an industry partner.
What is your research background?
I graduated as a veterinary surgeon in 2003 from the Royal Veterinary College. After undertaking an internship specialising in equine orthopaedics (Newmarket), I spent 5 years in practice as an equine clinician. My clinical experiences as an equine vet working with sports horses provided the incentive to study for a PhD researching the role of inflammation in equine tendinopathy, which was successfully completed in 2012.
What are you researching now?
I made the decision to commit to a research academic career and moved to NDORMS in 2013 and was awarded consecutive Fellowships funded by Arthritis Research UK and Oxford-UCB to advance and translate my research from horse to human. My research focuses on identifying the mechanisms underpinning the development of chronic inflammation and fibrosis in diseased musculoskeletal soft tissues. The over arching goal is to improve understanding of disease mechanism and discover novel therapeutic strategies to promote resolution of inflammation in chronically inflamed musculoskeletal soft tissues.
My programme of research investigates the cellular and molecular processes concerned with the development of chronic inflammation and fibrosis in tendinopathy and frozen shoulder. The aims of this work are to:
- Determine how inflammation changes the landscape of these musculoskeletal soft tissues
- Understand why inflammation fails to resolve and becomes chronic in some patients with musculoskeletal soft tissue disease
- Investigate the inter-relationships between inflammation, pain and structural tissue damage and to understand why some patients improve after treatment but others remain symptomatic
What has your experience of this Fellowship been like?
I feel very fortunate to have been awarded an Oxford-UCB Prize Fellowship, it has been a fantastic experience thus far. This funding has provided several opportunities. Engaging with a leading pharmaceutical company provides great insight into how the industry operates. The Fellowship also provides the opportunity to visit and work in their laboratories and forge new collaborations. Importantly this Fellowship has provided access to a super-network of scientists who are world leaders in their field, which is an excellent platform for information and collaborative exchange.
What has been the highlight of the Fellowship so far?
The Fellowship has allowed me to pursue my own independent line of work to address the clinically important research questions I find interesting. This funding and the unique opportunity to engage with industry has facilitated production of manuscripts and other academic achievements that have enabled me to successfully apply for the University’s Recognition of Distinction Scheme. For this I am very grateful!
Why do you think it is important for researchers to engage with industry?
A team approach is preferable when each party can bring particular elements to the table. Partnerships between industry and academia can accelerate the discovery and transition of medicines from the bench to the bedside, to ensure that the right treatment is available for the right patient at the right time.
Do you have any advice for applicants to this Fellowship?
Be pro-active and inquisitive, learn about industry, take opportunities as they arise and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You as an individual have a unique skill set that can be an asset to a partnership with industry.
What are your aspirations for the future of your research?
I aim to generate new insights into the pathobiology of disease of musculoskeletal soft tissues. Ultimately my career goal is to deliver world class transformative research from bench to bedside that helps people with musculoskeletal disease keep fit for improved future health and quality of life.