Dr Zoe Saynor
I am a Senior Lecturer in Physical Activity, Exercise and Health and lead for both the Physical Activity, Health and Rehabilitation Thematic Research Group and Clinical, Health and Rehabilitation research Team (CHaRT) at the University of Portsmouth. I am an honorary researcher at several NHS Trusts (Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust; University Hospitals Southampton NHS Foundation Trust) and have a varied profile of clinical research studies. I have been a Guest Lecturer on the MSc Physiotherapy course at University College London the past 6 years and have been a visiting academic at several national and international institutions.
I have been PI and Co-I for grant funding of over £1.4 million. My current research interests focus on exercise testing, training and nutrition in the treatment and prevention of chronic disease(s). I also have an interest in using exercise evaluations to assess the mechanisms of action of pharmacological treatments, as well as investigating how exposure to extreme environments (e.g. heat, hypoxia) may be used to treat chronic health conditions such as diabetes. Current and previous research has spanned the lifespan, from pre-pubertal children to the elderly, and has involved working with people with the following health conditions: cystic fibrosis (CF), non-CF bronchiectasis, asthma, CF-related diabetes, type II diabetes mellitus, chronic and end-stage renal disease, arthritis, joint hypermobility, cancer, Raynaud's, inflammatory bowel disease and Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
I regularly deliver invited talks at national and international external organisations and sit on a number of expert groups, such as the European Cystic Fibrosis Society Exercise Working Group; UK Exercise and Lifestyle Clinical Studies Group (part of the UK Kidney Research Consortium); Global Renal Exercise Network, as well as being an NIHR ARC Wessex faculty member.
I am on the Editorial Board of both the European Journal of Sport Science (the official journal of the European College of Sport Science), and Physical Activity and Health, as well peer-reviewer for 54 internationally recognised scientific journals. I am also a member of the Cochrane Author Panel and an invited reviewer for several funding bodies. I provided invited external expert review for a UoA24 Mock Ref Panel in 2019, due to my recognised expertise in the areas of physical activity, exercise and health and clinical exercise physiology. Within our school, I am Chair of the Extenuating Circumstances Committee and an active member of the Athena Swan Committee.
Prior to this I graduated from Bangor University in 2009 with a BSc in Sports Science (1st Class Hons.) and in 2010 with an MSc in Exercise Rehabilitation (Distinction). I then undertook a PhD within the Children's Health and Exercise Research Centre at the University of Exeter, focused on exercise limitation in cystic fibrosis, before joining the department in Portsmouth in 2014.
I practice what I preach and have competed nationally and internationally as an elite athlete (rugby union) and am passionate about the application of skills and knowledge from the field of sport and exercise science and elite sport to the clinical arena. It is the complex interactive capabilities of the human body that are needed to bring about ‘normal’ physiological function that particularly fascinate me.
Outside of academia, I am an invited member of the Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) Welfare Advisory Board, and Chair of Women’s Welfare sub-committee. This board aims to provide guidance, advice and proposals to the RPE Players’ Board, Management Board, and Executive Management Team on player-related welfare matters, in order to meet the challenges to and advancement of current and former professional player welfare. At all times, working towards the RPA’s mission statement of making England the best place to play rugby in the world.
Broad research specialisms:
- The benefits and risks of exercise training in individuals with chronic health conditions
- Exercise testing for people with chronic health conditions;
- Physical activity and exercise for healthy ageing
- That factors limiting exercise function in patient groups;
- The risks and benefits of extreme environmental conditions on health;
My primary research interests are focused on the benefits of exercise testing and training in clinical populations. Cardiopulmonary exercise testing is a valuable tool which can provide important clinical information regarding function and longevity and quality of life. Exercise training provides a powerful therapeutic intervention against the negative effects brought about by a chronically diseased state and I am interested in pursuing the most effective training modalities and the implementation of these into clinical practice. I am also particularly interested in the mechanism(s) by which disease pathophysiology affects an individual's cardiopulmonary and muscular function during exercise, in addition to other issues such as cardiovascular, metabolic and bone health.
- U30917: Clinical Exercise Physiology – MSc Level (module coordinator)
- U30078: Physical Activity & Exercise for Healthy Ageing – Level 5
- U30064: Introduction to Sport & Exercise Physiology - Level 4
- Undergraduate and MSc level research projects
- MPhil and PhD Research Supervisor
In addition to my teaching responsibilities, I am responsible for IQA for the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) Level 2 Gym Instructor Qualification within our School. I am also a University of Portsmouth Department for Curriculum and Quality Enhancement APEX Mentor for applicants to the Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy programme.