Meet the scientist: Dr Dominic Sykes - APF Conference Awardee

November 2023

Dominic is an early career researcher and a trainee respiratory physician, currently working at Hull York Medical School and the Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. His research to date has focused on patients with pulmonary fibrosis and chronic cough. APF supported Dominic to attend a research conference in September. Read on to find out about Dominic's experience.

Dominic’s Research:

Dominic had the opportunity to attend this years European Respiratory Society Congress in Milan, to present his work on non-drug treatments for breathlessness in patients with pulmonary fibrosis. He also presented work looking at the differences in how males and females react to drug therapies for pulmonary fibrosis.

Dominic’s primary project looked at the impact of breathlessness intervention sessions which were run by a specialist nurse or physiotherapist. Dominic wanted to find out if this affected the quality of life and perceptions of breathlessness in patients with pulmonary fibrosis. This was a smaller trial which looked at how feasible it would be to carry out a much larger study to better assess the effectiveness of this intervention. The initial results were promising and as a result, the much larger trial is due to begin recruiting in mid-2024!

Q&A with Dominic

Why did you want to go to the ERS Congress in Milan?

The ERS Congress is one of the largest respiratory conferences in the world, with over 17,000 people attending every year. It is a fantastic opportunity to share ideas and discover the latest research in respiratory medicine.

What was it like when you got there?

When I arrived at the conference centre, I was taken aback by the size of it and the atmosphere of so many like-minded people, all gathering with a desire to advance the field of respiratory medicine. It is always nice to attend the industry stands in order to grab a free cappuccino and run into fellow researchers that I have met at previous conferences! I also had the opportunity to catch some of the ‘state of the art’ presentation sessions, which included world-leading researchers discussing the latest developments in the world of pulmonary fibrosis in front of a packed crowd of over 2000 people!

What was presenting in front of that many people like?

For my presentation session, there must have been about 500 people in the room. This initially made me very nervous. However, once I got into my stride, I felt more at ease and I was able to present my work as I had practiced it previously in my kitchen! I feel that overall my work was generally well received and I avoided any grilling by the audience in the following question session. After my presentation, I was able to chat with some of the well-known researchers in pulmonary fibrosis and was able to network with fellow early career researchers.

What did you get out of it?

I feel like this opportunity provided me with invaluable experience in presenting my work, and it also created opportunities for myself to further my career by collaborating with some of the best researchers in the country. Furthermore, I was able to watch the other presentations in my session and learn a great deal about both presentation technique and the latest research in pulmonary fibrosis.

What difference do you think conferences like this make for people affected by PF?

I feel like conferences such as the ERS really do help to make advances in patient care. Not only does it provide opportunities to spread the word about the latest research and change clinical practice, but it also inspires people like myself to come up with new ideas around research in pulmonary fibrosis. I also believe that conferences such as the ERS raise awareness for patients with pulmonary fibrosis and may alert others (other than pulmonary fibrosis doctors) to what is happening in the world of pulmonary fibrosis. This may lead to further developments in the science and the potential for new treatments.

Why is that important to understand the gaps in research?

It is well known that current care in the UK and worldwide for patients with pulmonary fibrosis is certainly sub-optimal. There is a long way we need to go in developing treatments, both drug and non-drug treatments, for pulmonary fibrosis patients. I believe that highlighting gaps in the research will only bring better care to more people throughout the world who struggle with this life threatening and life limiting disease. Through collaboration with a multitude of people from various backgrounds all over the globe, I feel like we can advance the science, highlight gaps, and work on future research projects to try and stop pulmonary fibrosis.

Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis would like to thank Dominic for his research and sharing his experience of the conference. We would also like to thank our amazing supporters, without your generosity and kind donations, we would not be able to support researchers to pave the way in helping to find better and more effective treatment options. Ultimately helping to create a brighter future for those affected by pulmonary fibrosis.

If you are interested in finding out more about the way that APF supports pulmonary fibrosis research, please take a look at Our Research page.

If you would like to make a donation to directly fund pulmonary fibrosis research, please take a look at Our Hope for All Research Appeal page.