Volunteers at the heart of health researchBy Laura McCardle
July 19, 2012
Volunteers are vital to the work of the internationally-accalimed Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences at Reading university.
The Hugh Sinclair Human Nutrition Group is known across the world for its research into the relationship between diet and the risk of chronic diseases like such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.
Recent work includes why eating bread can lower blood pressure and how blueberries, a phytochemical-rich food, can reverse age-related decline in memory.
The centre, which currently has 12 studies underway, relies heavily on members of the community coming forward to take part.
Daphne Bridges, 70, from Caversham, has been volunteering with the department for more than 15 years. She said: “I have a general interest in research studies and furthering my knowledge of myself as well as helping out people with the research and I find it a very friendly atmosphere here.
“The ones I really enjoyed are ones which are linked with the psychology department which are where certain foods affected your cognitive ability.
“You learn a lot about yourself and how to improve your own health and you help others.”
Professor Ian Rowland, head of nutrition, said: “We need a lot of volunteers.
“We have about 1,500 to 2,000 people coming through every year.
“Although its big, it’s not a completely inexhaustible source of volunteers. A lot of them are students and we don’t always want to use them, we want older people.
“Recruiting for these studies is extremely difficult, often we want a specific person. It’s quite difficult to get someone to volunteer and our volunteers are wonderful.”
Jan Luff, manager of the Hugh Sinclair Unit, said: “We’re really unique, I think more people should know about what we do because it’s for the benefit of the future.
“We’re always looking for people to come and take part. It’s mainly people who are not taking medication.”
If you are interested in taking part in the department's studies, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (0118) 378 7771.