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Miss Catherine Lovegrove and Dr Alexander Sagar from the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences (NDS) have been awarded highly competitive Clinical Research Training Fellowships by the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Catherine Lovegrove and Alexander Sagar

The fellowship provides funding for registered healthcare professionals to undertake a PhD/DPhil or to reacquire research skills. 

Miss Catherine Lovegrove, an NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow in Urology, secured an MRC Clinical Research Training Fellowship to support her DPhil project on the genetic and molecular mechanisms of kidney stone disease and find out how adiposity causes stones. This study aims to improve our understanding of why people form kidney stones.

During her MRC fellowship, Miss Lovegrove will investigate the reasons why high levels of central fat are linked to kidney stones and raised blood calcium levels. Using these findings, she will look for new treatments for patients with kidney stones.

‘Our understanding of the causes of kidney stone disease is relatively primitive despite it being a common and recurrent condition,' said Miss Lovegrove 'Our work will address this need and help me to develop research skills to answer future research questions. The fellowship award is a testament to the support and training that the NDS and University of Oxford research environments promote. I am very excited at this excellent opportunity that has come as the fruit of a lot of teamwork over the last three years!’

Dr Alexander Sagar’s DPhil, supervised by Professor Peter Friend and Professor Constantin Coussios, will investigate the optimisation of prolonged normothermic liver machine perfusion and assessment of its feasibility to provide extra-corporeal liver support.

His research builds on work in organ preservation using machine perfusion that has been pioneered in Oxford. Livers are perfused with blood at body-temperature prior to transplantation, rather than traditional storage on ice. The study will assess novel methods to adapt the current system to support prolonged perfusion and determine whether the technology may be expanded to support patients with liver failure.  

Speaking of his award, Dr Sagar said: ‘I am delighted to receive this MRC fellowship, which will provide the opportunity to explore the potential for these promising interventions to bring benefit to patients awaiting liver transplant and with liver failure.’