NHIP Academy: Meet our Community – Dr Michael Keogh

Dr Michael Keogh is a Senior Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Neurology, who is currently part of the NHIP Senior Clinical Fellow/Honorary Consultant Career Development Programme.

NHIP Senior Clinical Fellow/Honorary Consultant posts support individuals for five years post-completion of clinical training (CCT). The programme provides Dr Keogh with the flexibility to dedicate 50 percent of his time to clinical practice at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and 50 percent of his time to researching neurogenetics as a Senior Clinical Lecturer at Newcastle University.

Dr Keogh’s current research focusses on how somatic mutations (where mutations occur when cells divide) and germline mutations (inherited mutations that are present in every cell in the body) contribute to neurodegenerative disorders. He has a particular interest in understanding the genetic changes that occur with age at the cellular and molecular level and how these changes contribute to neurodegeneration.

 

NHIP Senior Clinical Fellow/Honorary Consultant posts

These posts are held under a single employment contract but funded equally between the university and NHS Trusts showing the strength of our partnerships and commitment locally to developing a cadre of clinical academics.

Exploring the benefits of balancing academic and clinical work, Dr Keogh said:

“Maintaining half of my time with academic work dovetails nicely with my clinical work. I get to see patients with a variety of neurogenerative disorders allowing me to aim to build new approaches to understand how genetic changes that occur in the brain with age may explain or contribute to neurological disorders. This research paradigm is already building new collaborations with haematologists, immunologists and psychiatrists within and beyond the university with a strong transdisciplinary approach.”

 

Michael’s research journey

Dr Keogh has a keen interest and strong track record in identifying and understanding how inherited mutations within the germline may cause neurological disorders. This has led to him being involved in multiple studies that have identified rare mutations that cause a variety of neurological disorders. He continues to utilise these skills within a genetic movement disorder clinic in which he aims to identify genetic variants that cause or contribute to movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease as well as improving and advancing genetic diagnostic opportunities for neurology patients in the region.

More recently he has become interested in how somatic mutations in bone marrow stem cells that occur with age may contribute to neurodegeneration. He was the first to identify that immune cells that carry these mutations may translocate into the brain, and recently these mutations have been identified as modifying the risk and progression of neurodegenerative disorders, though the mechanism underlying this remains unknown.

As a result, his current research programme aims to:

  1. Develop new imaging approaches to understand cellular translocation into and around the brain in dementia as well as study the activity of the immune system in this area as disease develops and progresses.
  2. Develop the role of age-related somatic mutations in the bone marrow in modifying the immune response to dementia.
  3. Develop the role of translocated mutant immune cells in the brain in mediating disease.

These outcomes will provide an understanding of how a critical component of aging in the bone marrow may modify the progression of neurodegeneration and an understanding of how natural aging mutant cells may be transmitted and incorporated into the aging brain, harnessing advanced therapies and cellular regeneration.

Michael previously held a NIHR Clinical Lectureship which is part of the Integrated Academic Track (IAT), led by the NHIP Academy Medic and Dentist Pillar. Newcastle was recently awarded 12 Clinical Lecturer posts which provide four years of clinical and academic training for doctors and dentists who are at later stages of specialist clinical training.

Speaking on the importance of being involved in research, Dr Keogh said:

“Research, particularly in neurodegenerative disorders, is critical in identifying potential disease mechanisms that may be amenable to treatment. These disorders are devastating, common disorders that pose significant challenges to patients, families and economies.

“Despite their frequency, our understanding of what causes these conditions to arise, and progress is far from understood. My research allows us to expand our understanding with a view to developing new treatment approaches.”

 

NHIP Academy

Throughout this NHIP Senior Clinical Lectureship, Dr Keogh will continue to receive support from the NHIP Academy as he builds his own research programme.  NHIP Academy unlocks career development opportunities for the next generation of health and care researchers.

Discussing his experience with the Academy, Dr Keogh said:

“NHIP Academy is now rapidly gaining a pivotal position in clinical-academic research and career development. Upon identifying and understanding the role of the academy, I was sure it would be an excellent resource to help me meet my goals and help develop my career further.

“The academy is providing great assistance in helping me with external fellowship applications. The ethos of the academy, which places mentorship and support central to its aims, is exactly what I have needed over the last few years. I am delighted to start this role and hope to grow my group rapidly during the post.”

Dr Amy Brown, NHIP Academy Manager, said:

“It has been a great privilege to support Michael over recent years and he is a prime example of someone who is benefiting from the integration of our clinical academic career pathways in Newcastle.”

“I am thrilled that Michael has been appointed in this post at such a critical stage his clinical academic career. The protected time, stability, £20k start-up funding and mentorship afforded by the NHIP Senior Clinical Lecturer/Honorary Consultant post will enable Michael to consolidate his research, transition to independence and be a future leader in neurogenetics. I look forward to following his research and continuing to provide him with support when needed.”

 

Dr Keoghs Advice

“I would say that it is vital to go and speak to as many people as possible on similar schemes and to generate a support network. Then, I would advise working closely with the central members of NHIP Academy to develop an action plan to meet your goals to see where and how the Academy can draw on additional support to help you.”

Dr Keogh is also Co-Chair of the Newcastle University Carers Network where he expands opportunities and understanding for students and members of staff who are carers.

 

If you would like support on your career development pathway or would like to discuss the opportunities mentioned throughout this piece, please contact NHIP Academy.

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