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Sofia Michopoulou

Sofia Michopoulou

Head of Nuclear Medicine Physics

Dr Sofia Michopoulou is a Consultant Clinical Scientist and Head of Nuclear Medicine Physics at University Hospital Southampton. She holds a Research Leaders Programme (RLP) award.


Her research focuses on brain imaging and the role of inflammation in dementia.


Improving dementia diagnosis


By 2025, it’s estimated that over one million people in the UK will have a diagnosis of dementia.


It causes symptoms such as memory loss, confusion, and problems with speech and understanding, that get worse over time. While it can affect people at any age, it’s most common in people over 65.


Sofia’s research aims to improve early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. In particular, she’s interested in ways to distinguish between people whose condition is stable and those who will rapidly get worse.


“We believe inflammation may be the key to differentiating between those two groups,” she says.


Working with Prof Chris Kipps and Prof Jessica Teeling, she has shown that inflammation in the brain is a key driver of how quickly the condition gets worse, or progresses.


They have identified inflammation markers in blood and spinal fluid that may be able to predict how fast Alzheimer’s disease will progress. They also used imaging to find an area of the brain that is different in people with these markers. Sofia will use her RLP award to continue to build on this work.


Enabling others


The RLP was recommended to Sofia by colleagues as useful way to gain leadership skills and network with researchers in Southampton. After attending a ‘We are UHS’ event, she decided to apply.


She’s interested in using her RLP award to form new collaborations with other researchers, both in Southampton and at other organisations, to further develop her research.


“I’m looking to set up collaborations with other hospitals, particularly UCLH,” she says, “and coordinating a brain imaging group in the UK.”


She also plans to raise awareness among the public of ways they can reduce their risk of developing dementia. These include eating green vegetables, protecting their hearing, keeping their teeth clean and preventing head injury.


“Together with Prof Jessica Teeling, we are working with people of all ages at outreach events to help them consider things they can do in their day-to-day lives to reduce their risk of dementia,” she says.


“This has become quite extensive, as we realised a lot of our patients and the public were not aware of ways to protect themselves.”


She was particularly interested in the RLP as it gives her the chance to support others to develop their research. This is a central part of her plans for the award.


“One thing I like about the RLP is that it appears to have a big component of enabling others to do research,” she explains, “and that’s something I’m really keen to do in medical physics and radiology.”


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