DMU PhD student beats competition to present life-saving research at Parliament

A Pharmacy Practice PhD student from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) is attending Parliament to discuss research that could save the lives of heart disease patients.

Dennis Bernieh main

Cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol, affects an estimated seven million people in the UK. However, evidence suggests around half of all heart patients do not take their medicines as prescribed, leading to poor health, high cost of care and, in some cases, death.

Dennis Bernieh's work focuses on adherence to medication, with the goal to optimise treatment benefits for patients. It involves using a dried blood spot from a simple finger prick to evaluate if a patient's prescribed medication is producing therapeutic levels in the bloodstream.

Potential benefits include ensuring medications are taken as prescribed, improving treatment outcomes and saving the NHS money. Wasted (unused) medicines cost the NHS up to £4 billion annually.

Dennis said: "Another advantage is instead of going to your GP you could do the test yourself at home."

The dried blood spot test was first developed at DMU by Sangeeta Tanna and Graham Lawson.

The third year PhD student will be discussing his work with politicians and expert judges at the SET for Britain competition on Monday, 7 March after being shortlisted from hundreds of applicants.

Dennis has produced a poster to showcase his research, which will be judged against entries by other scientists in the Biological and Biomedical Science category.

The 35-year-old said: "I applied to take part in SET for Britain to present and discuss my research with the politicians and to showcase some of the good work being done at DMU.

"It is really nice to be selected and have the opportunity to show the impact of my research to the wider community. The key thing is to explain my research to a non-specialist audience while maintaining the scientific impact."

Hailing from Ghana where he studied for a BSc in Herbal Medicine, Dennis chose to do a Master's in Pharmaceutical Analysis after moving to the UK. He was attracted to study for a PhD at DMU because of his interest in the research by his now supervisors, Dr Tanna and Dr Lawson.

Dennis said: "It has been a challenge but it is rewarding and seeing the impact research can have brings satisfaction."

After completing his thesis, Dennis would like to stay on at DMU as a post-doctoral researcher. Meanwhile, he is hoping his experience in Parliament could lead to collaborations or even funding opportunities.

Stephen Metcalfe MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, said: "This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country's best young researchers.

"These early career engineers, mathematicians and scientists are the architects of our future and SET for Britain is our politicians' best opportunity to meet them and understand their work."

Bronze, Silver and Gold prizes will be awarded in each category, with the overall winner receiving the Westminster Wharton Medal.

Posted on: Thursday 24 March 2016

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