St Helens doctor wins top medical prize

St Helens-born Dr Emily Hughes
St Helens-born Dr Emily Hughes
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A newly-qualified doctor from St Helens has been awarded a top medical prize.

Former Rainford High pupil Dr Emily Hughes won the prestigious Dr Falk-Pharma Core Charity award for her research work into non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

In September Dr Hughes begins work as a doctor at the Bradford and Leeds Teaching Hospitals carrying out her duties alongside her twelve month research project at the Department of Discovery and Translational Science, University of Leeds

The Dr Falk Pharma UK/Core Awards, now celebrating its eleventh year, are dedicated to encouraging research and promoting patient care in the field of gastroenterology and hepatology.

She said: "NAFLD is one of the most common causes of liver disease in the UK. We know that in obesity fat can become inflamed. When this happens the fat releases lots of a particular type of signal called a chemokine. We have found that in people with NAFLD the fat ‘over-produces’ these chemokines.

"We speculate that these chemokines can travel from the fat to the liver, where they can make the liver disease worse. We believe that a better understanding of how fat can affect the liver would be useful in developing specific treatments for this condition.

"On a personal note, this project holds particular interest for me as it attempts to address a huge and growing problem in an area that I am passionate about. Winning the Dr Falk Core Research Grant at this early stage in my career is a huge honour.

"The grant will allow me to spend time in the lab – an invaluable experience, which will hopefully form the basis of future PhD applications."