I trained as an immunologist/ biochemist and worked in the biotechnology industry until 1998. Since graduating in 2000 with a MSc in Sport and Exercise Science, I have concentrated on researching the physical and psychological effects of exercise and physical activity after a cancer diagnosis. I have published over 30 research papers and three academic book chapters in the field of exercise and cancer survivorship.
My research has been based around the development and testing of pragmatic interventions for cancer survivors and examining the effects of physical activity / exercise on cardiorespiratory fitness, active daily living, psychological well being and quality of life. These studies have involved working with breast, gynaecological, colorectal and lung cancer patients.
I consider myself as a "Pracademic" ie my academic work is closely connected to the practitioners' world : health professionals working in the field of oncology and fitness professionals working in community setting with clients with chronic conditions. I designed two exercise DVDs for cancer survivors funded by Macmillan and Breast Cancer Care; I set up the first free community based exercise programme for cancer survivors in the UK - the basis of Macmillan Cancer Care's MoveMore Programme; and I am Director of CanRehab (www.canrehab.co.uk) which was established to train fitness professionals to provide safe effective exercise programmes for anyone post cancer diagnosis .
In addition to my research interests and establishing best practice, I am also involved in the development and teaching of Clinical Exercise Science M.Sc at Edinburgh Napier. This Masters degree builds on the Sport Exercise and Health’s research and expertise in the therapeutic role of exercise in a number of clinical settings (cancer, cardiovascular, stroke, multiple sclerosis etc.). This Masters is unique in providing a strong applied component to this degree. The MSc students work directly with cancer survivors to learn how to perform clinical exercise tests, exercise consultations/ behaviour change interventions and how to design individualised safe and effective exercise programmes for real clients. The module “Cancer Survivorship and Exercise” incorporates the CanRehab Level 4 national occupational standard vocational qualification into this Module.
I am a consultant for Macmillan Cancer Care, assisting the charity in the establishment and evaluation of UK wide community based exercise programmes for cancer patients and survivors. I am also on the advisory board for the NHS Prehabilitation Programme for cancer patients and Chair of the international Cancer Special Interest Group at ACSM.