Bioscience benefits for athletes

A workshop aimed at bioscientists and sports scientists will discuss how bioscience can be applied to help improve the performance of Britain’s elite athletes.


A workshop aimed at bioscientists and sports scientists will discuss how bioscience can be applied to help improve the performance of Britain’s elite athletes.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and UK Sport are bringing together scientists in the fields of neuroscience and musculoskeletal research with sports scientists to establish collaborative projects that will boost the chances of UK top athletes in future competitions.


A workshop is taking place on 28-29 September 2009 at the Babraham Institute, an institute of BBSRC, near Cambridge.


Janet Allen, director of research for BBSRC, said: ‘The bioscience community in the UK has knowledge and skills that could address many major challenges facing high-performance athletes. The translation of fundamental bioscience, including the physiology of the nerve-to-muscle-to-tendon system, into strategies to fulfil physical potential could help give British athletes an edge as they prepare for a home Olympic and Paralympic Games in three years’ time.’


Dr Scott Drawer, head of research and innovation for UK Sport, said their efforts could reduce the number of injuries sustained by British athletes.


He said: ‘Elite athletes train incredibly hard and maintain a very high level of fitness over a long time. While this makes them healthier than average, it can also expose them to more physical stresses and they can be prone to certain injuries and conditions. In some cases it almost seems like while they are operating at an incredibly high level, they can easily topple and fall from that height.’


The two-day workshop is designed to introduce bioscientists to the practical challenges faced by leading athletes and their coaches and trainers. It is hoped they will be able to apply their knowledge in relevant fields, and the BBSRC and UK Sport will collaborate to fund research projects in this area.


Allen said the knowledge gained through this research will be useful to not just athletes.


She added: ‘High-performance sport provides a unique model for investigating factors related to healthy physiology and so the projects that are taken on following this workshop are also likely to tell us something about increasing healthy lifespan for everyone.’