Dedicated asthma researcher Professor Somnath Mukhopadhyay explains why he believes passionately in developing tailored treatments for children whose lives are affected by this chronic disease.
Professor Mukhopadhyay, seen here with Action Medical Research Volunteers
after giving a talk about his work, is based at the Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital in Brighton,
and Sussex Medical School
What inspired you to investigate this particular area?
I believe every child has very individualised needs. Only precision medicine can help these needs and help bring about a major step change in the quality of life of children with asthma and allergy. We have to look beyond generic treatment models to tailor specific treatments according to the needs of individual children and adults. I am also passionate about bringing children from the back of the queue to the front of the queue for accessing novel treatments in the future.
What does Action funding for this study mean to you?
Action Medical Research has funded what is essentially the first large randomised controlled trial of personalised medicine in a chronic disease. The decision to back this study is bold and innovative. We hope we can make the trial succeed and we hope this research will encourage many others to test precision medicine approaches in treating childhood diseases.
What does a typical day look like for you … or is every day different?
Every day is different just as every child is different. This is the magic of life, you never know what to expect. It also makes life interesting and every day is a day to look forward to.
Can you tell us a bit about your team?
The most important members of my team are the children and their carers who are participating in our studies. They give up time and provide lots of enthusiasm and brilliant ideas that keep us working. Our research team is spread all over the UK from Brighton to Dundee, Aberdeen and London, and includes Chrissie who has a health psychology background; Brian, a professor in asthma and allergy; Colin, a professor in the genetics of medicine responses; Steve, a professor in paediatrics; and Kristina and Roberta, research nurses at the clinical trials unit.
Who’s your research hero, and why?
James Black. I met him a couple of times when I was in Dundee. He was Chancellor of the university at the time. He told me how best to set my eyes on my goal and how to avoid distractions that often trip up academics. He was a very simple man, you couldn’t tell he discovered propranolol and cimetidine, two of the most important medicines of the twentieth century, and that he had won the Nobel Prize.
As a charity, Action began in 1952 with our founder’s quest to find a cure for polio. What led you to a career in medical research?
I have always wanted to practise medicine but also to innovate, so that I could make life better for children who suffer from difficult illnesses.
Action’s loyal and lovable mascot Paddington Bear™ is very fond of marmalade sandwiches. What’s your favourite snack?
Pistachio nuts. Paddington should try them. But I love marmalade too!
Tell us something that will surprise us!
I spend at least an hour everyday practising mindfulness meditation and everyone asks me how I find the time to do this. If you really want to know how, send me an email. I can’t tell you now because I have reached my word limit for this blog!
Find out more
- You can find out more about Professor Mukhopadhya’s three year study to help children with asthma here.
- World Asthma Day is on 3 May