Research on the role of immune cells in delirium to be undertaken by third BGS/Dunhill Doctoral Training Fellow

05 April 2022

Dr Moorey is the third recipient of the prestigious Clinical Fellowship, jointly funded by the British Geriatrics Society and the Dunhill Medical Trust.

Her PhD application impressed the Fellowship panel with the relevance and focus of her proposed research, which aims to improve understanding of what causes delirium, a common age-related disease. By testing how immune cells respond to different drugs she hopes to find future treatments for delirium.

Dr Moorey said:

"I am so grateful to the BGS and Dunhill Medical Trust for awarding me this funding which allows me to continue my clinical academic career with a PhD Fellowship. Delirium is a poorly understood condition that can be devastating for older people in hospital. I am excited to take this project researching the pathophysiology of delirium forward, with the aim to translate this into future treatments."

Delirium affects 20% of older people admitted to hospital. It manifests as difficulty thinking clearly or concentrating, and sometimes hallucinations. It is distressing for patients, their carers and healthcare staff. Older people who develop delirium are more likely to be discharged to a care home following hospital admission, and have a higher chance of dying in the following 30 days, as explained in a recent research paper on delirium in the BGS’s journal, Age and Ageing.

Although delirium is often triggered by infection or surgery, the biological mechanisms are not well understood, but it is possible that immune cells are involved. Hannah’s research will examine the immune cells of older people with infections who get delirium and compare them to those who do not. She will be testing drugs on these cells to discover how immune cells respond to them. This is in the hope of finding future treatments and reducing the number of people who require residential care or develop dementia as a result

Dr Emily Henderson, BGS Vice-President Academic Affairs and Consultant Senior Lecturer in Geriatric Medicine at Bristol Medical School, said:

“Awarding this prestigious Doctoral Training Fellowship to Dr Hannah Mooney reflects an exciting time in academic geriatric medicine. Her fellowship will afford her a period of protected and supported training to continue her journey in academic geriatric medicine. I have no doubt that her research findings will positively influence the clinical practice of healthcare for older adults. This exciting programme of research is jointly supported by the partnership of the British Geriatrics Society and the Dunhill Medical Trust, and we wish Hannah all the best as she embarks on this new venture.”

Susan Kay of the Dunhill Medical Trust, said:

“We’re delighted to be working once again with the British Geriatrics Society on this Joint Doctoral Training Fellowship. We are passionate about supporting early career researchers and this Fellowship forms an important part of our strategy. We feel it is really important to support healthcare professionals in achieving their research ambitions if we are to improve our treatment of age-related conditions and health and social care for older people.”

Hannah is the third recipient of the BGS/Dunhill Medical Trust Doctoral Training Fellowship, which is a joint initiative to support research relevant to age-related diseases and frailty. The Fellowship will fund her PhD research over three years.

You can read about pharmacist Adeela Usman’s PhD research about a quality of life tool in care homes on the BGS website. Adeela was the first recipient of the BGS/Dunhill Fellowship. Geriatrician Dr Sarah Hopkins is the second Fellow. She began her research on advance care planning in early 2022.

The BGS and Dunhill Medical Trust have agreed to fund a second round of three Fellowships. Applications for the first Fellow of this second round close on 8 April 2022. Applicants must be a member of the British Geriatrics Society for the lifetime of the grant and meet the requirements for a programme of PhD study at a UK-based University. The grant covers salary, tuition fees, and consumables. For details of how to apply, see https://dunhillmedical.org.uk/apply-for-funding.