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Meet Professor John S. Young

By Professor John S. Young
Professor of Translational Healthcare

03 October 2022

 

Professor Young's research focuses on facilitating early disease diagnosis. He discusses his work to tackle challenges within the healthcare sector, his inspiration to help people and his hopes for future treatments.

Professor John S. Young
Professor John S. Young

What is the basis of your research?

My research consists of speaking to clinicians, healthcare professionals, patients and carers that we work with to find out what they need to make healthcare more accessible. This can be both people who work for companies who create healthcare products or people that design services for patients and doctors. These people will usually come to us with a problem, such as having patients who need a diagnosis and they are unable to do so as they don’t have the right tools. By speaking to these people, we aim to find out what problems they experience.

From speaking to these people, I will look at the problem they have and try looking at ways it can be best resolved to help provide people with what they need and give a quicker diagnosis of their problems and illnesses.

What does your average day look like?

Every day is different and will consist of meeting a variety of people and working together with our large team in the National Horizons Centre, as well as our spin-out company. I have a research lab that I lead, and many projects that I both lead and collaborate on.

On an average day, there are lots of meetings to go over the data we have, the data we may need to help put into place and the next steps. This takes a lot of leadership, research and time management.

I will usually meet people in hospitals in order to ascertain the needs of end users and to discuss the progress that is ongoing in the projects.

What inspired your research?

The quality of people’s lives is important, and I hope to help find the basis of diseases. My background is urology, looking at conditions that affect someone’s bladder function - what makes them go to the toilet more frequently or wake during the night for the toilet. Currently, there isn’t a means to diagnose the basis of these symptoms; there are several different diseases that produce the same symptoms, but you need to treat the underlying cause. Clinicians don’t have the right tools to find the diagnosis.

My mum was a nurse, and my dad was a mechanic, so I was always inspired by them helping other people, whether that be to help them have a safe journey or treat an illness. Their careers were very hands-on to help meet the needs of individuals. I knew I wanted to follow in similar footsteps of helping individuals.

When I meet all these end users, I see that they all have a pain, whether this be wanting better tools or needing better medicines to treat people. Nurses are wanting patients to recover more quickly, and patients want answers to their questions about their symptoms that hinder their everyday life. What inspires me is wanting to give people those solutions.

What do you hope to achieve?

I’d like there to be a world where people’s symptoms aren’t impactful, and we can find the basis of their disease at such an early point that you won’t even know you have that disease. That means people can then go on their way and have a better quality of life. I want us to have a system where we can spot these things before they become problematic for the patients and deal with the situations straight away so symptoms don’t become impactful and can be treated easily.

What would you say to someone who is wanting to study science?

I believe that science is a great platform for lots of different careers. I think there are many ways you can use a science qualification, such as working in the NHS, working in laboratories, being a pharmaceutical scientist, or even working in an academic research environment. There are also lots of transferable skills. I would really encourage people to develop those skills and to try a little bit of everything as it can be a really exciting and beneficial career.