Bart Lagerwaard, a PhD student in the Mitochondrial Health project, won the poster prize for his research into in vivo measurement of muscle ageing. The audience chose Bart after an exciting final in which five PhDs competed against each other.
In the battle for the prize, 21 PhDs were given the opportunity to present part of their research, in 5 minutes, using a poster. Based on the quality of the research and the presentation skills, the audience decided which five PhDs would do a final pitch on the stage in front of the auditorium. Despite the completely different subjects and types of research, all the finalists were able to translate their research into stories that were interesting for a wide audience.
Bart Lagerwaard managed to stay just ahead of his colleagues with his presentation on a new method to investigate muscle ageing. As you get older, your muscle mass decreases. This is partly due to the fact that the mitochondria, the energy factories in the muscles, become less active. The Mitochondrial Health project is looking for ways to maintain mitochondrial activity in order to counteract the effects of ageing. In this context, Lagerwaard is investigating whether the taking of muscle biopsies during such research can be replaced by Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS). This would remove the need for medical interventions on test subjects, and save time and money. Lagerwaard showed that NIRS is very useful, and that more data can be collected because it is relatively easy to measure mitochondrial activity under different conditions and in different muscle groups. Lagerwaard expects that the use of NIRS will give an important boost to muscle ageing research.