School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Staff

Elizabeth (Liz) Akam completed her first degree in Biochemistry at the University of Liverpool in 1995 for which she was awarded the Gibson Sinclair Undergraduate Scholarship for Outstanding Academic Achievement 3 years running. Following this, Liz accepted a Wellcome Prize PhD Scholarship to work with Professor Steve Nahorski, investigating neuropharmacology of Muscarinic Acetylcholine Receptors at The University of Leicester. On completion of her PhD in February 1999, Liz worked with Professor Philip Strange at The University of Reading before embarking on a career as a Biochemist within the Pharmaceutical Industry. Concomitantly Liz developed a passion for sports and exercise, and this culminated in the attainment of her Personal Training in General Populations GNVQ Level 3 in 2007. This together with her specialist knowledge in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics allows her to support both the staff and students at the School of Sports, Exercise and Health Sciences.

Loughborough University’s Research Challenge within “Health and Wellbeing” aligned to the School of Sports, Exercise and Health Sciences (SSEHS) research theme “Lifestyle for health and wellbeing” is where Dr Akam’s research in Health naturally aligns. Research is currently ongoing in the following areas:

  • The role of cryopreservation on mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) function;
  • The effects of physical activity (PA) on the mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-driven biochemical modulation of tumour metastasis;
  • The utility of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC’s) as pharmacological agents;
  • Investigating the combined utility of drug repurposing and mesenchymal stem cells (MSC’s);
  • The relationship of exercise capacity on telomere length and telomerase activity in the immune cells of older men and women;
  • Exercise-induced regulation of inhibitory modulators of plasticity;
  • The Role of Free Fatty Acid Receptors (FFARs) on mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) signal transduction;
  • Research into Drug repurposing, Free Fatty Acid receptors (FFARs), and more widely G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), aligns to a number of ongoing projects within the school: Anti Inflammatory Modulation; Bone Development and Osteoporosis; Signal Transduction Genetics; Type II Diabetes Mellitus Development/Regulation as well as developing the School’s expertise in Biochemistry with an emphasis on Cellular Signalling and Signal Transduction pathways.

Elizabeth’s research has been financially supported by:

  • British Swimming
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
  • Les Mills International
  • Loughborough University Sport Development Centre
  • Private Sponsor(s)
  • The Wellcome Trust

Journal Referee for Cells, Bioengineering, Exercise Immunology Reviews, Journal of Translational Medicine, Journal of Clinical Medicine, PLOS One and Scientific Reports.

Learned Societies and Professional Affiliations: Member of The Biochemical Society; Member of The Pharmacological Society.

Research has benefitted from collaborations with clinical, academic and industrial colleagues from institutions including: University Hospitals, Leicester; University of Leicester (Honorary Lecturer); University of Leeds; Les Mills.

As mentioned previously Liz (Dr Akam) has a very keen interest in sports and exercise, being also a YMCA Fitness Industry Training graduate in Gym Training, Personal Training and Exercise to Music.

  • Bahsoun S, Coopman K and Akam EC. Quantitative assessment of the impact of cryopreservation on human Bone Marrow derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells: up to 24 hours post-thaw and beyond. Stem Cell Research & Therapy (2020) (SCRT-D-20-00722R1).
  • Brown MJ, Morris MA and Akam EC. An exploration of the role of exercise in modulating breast cancer progression in vitro (a systematic review and meta-analysis). Systematic Review (Solicited). American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology (2020) doi.org/10.1152/ajpcell.00461.2020
  • Craig J, Akam E C, Bailey S J, Cox N J, Ferguson R A, O’Donnell E. Effects of Short‐term Folic Acid Supplementation on Brachial Artery Endothelial Function in Habitually Trained and Untrained Postmenopausal Women. The FASEB Journal (2020) 34 (S1), 1-1
  • Nickels M, Mastana S S, Hunter D J, Denith M, Codd V and Akam E C. The effect of a 12-week low resistance high repetition resistance training intervention on telomere length. Heliyon (2020), Volume 6, Issue 6, e04151
  • Nickels M, Mastana S S, J, Denith M, Codd V and Akam E C. Elite swimmers possess shorter telomeres than recreationally active controls. Gene (2020). Article reference GENE_145242
  • O’Donnell E, Craig J, Akam E C, Bailey S J. Folic Acid Supplementation Increases Cardiac Parasympathetic Modulation of Heart Rate in Habitually Endurance Trained and Untrained Middle‐Aged Men. The FASEB Journal (2020) 34 (S1), 1-1
  • Turner M C, Martin N R W, Player D J, Ferguson R A, Wheeler P, Green C J, Akam E C, Lewis M P. Characterising hyperinsulinaemia induced insulin resistance in human skeletal muscle cells. Journal of Molecular Endocrinology (2020) 64 (3), 125-132
  • Bahsoun S, Coopman K and Akam EC. The impact of cryopreservation on bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells: a systematic review. Journal of Translational Medicine (2019) 17, 397; doi:10.1186/s12967-019-02136-7
  • Brown MJ, Bahsoun S, Morris MA and Akam EC. Determining Conditions for Successful Culture of Multi-Cellular 3D Tumour Spheroids to Investigate the Effect of Mesenchymal Stem Cells on Breast Cancer Cell Invasiveness. Bioengineering (2019). 6(4), 101; doi.org/10.3390/bioengineering6040101
  • Know M, Akam EC, Singh P, Singh M, Cox N, Bhatti JS, Tuck SP, Francis RM, Datta H and Mastana SM. Vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene polymorphism and osteoporosis risk in White British men, Annals of Human Biology (2019) 46:5, 430-433; doi: 10.1080/03014460.2019.1659851
  • Akam EC and Riley Smith K. Pilates Conventional or Complementary? Adv Complement Alt Med (2019). 4(5). ACAM.000596.2019.

Example clinical trial applications & studies

You can view a fuller publications list on the University Publications Database