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St Mary's University

Inaugural lecture of Charles Pedlar: The evolving role of the sport scientist and the fine line between health and high performance

Date: Monday 5th June 2023

Time: 6pm to 7pm

Venue: Performance Education Centre

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Elite human performance takes many forms: from record-breaking feats of endurance to exquisitely beautiful ballet dance, to rapid decision making on the battlefield. The contemporary high performer, often under immense pressure to perform, is attended by specialist multidisciplinary science and medicine support systems since they are never far from injury or illness.

Over the past two decades, the field of Sport Science has expanded immeasurably into an expansive global industry, some of which, via the technology in our pockets, has become accessible to everyone. Thorough preparation can condition humans to tolerate the specific stresses encountered and this training provides some protection from physical and mental illness, injury, and errors. However, this training can also pose a risk, which is dependent on the specific stresses experienced and the opportunity for effective recovery.

Professor Pedlar will draw on his research and practice, discussing physiological systems, starting with:

  1. the development of the cardiovascular system, it’s augmentation through training and altitude exposure, and the crucial role of iron
  2. the role of sleep and its bi-directional relationship with exercise
  3. the menstrual cycle and the emerging understanding of the specific needs of female performers.

Prof Pedlar will conclude with some remarks about the increasingly diverse role of the multidisciplinary sport science team to help protect the health of the high performer from their own relentless drive to succeed.

Biography

Charles, or Charlie, is an applied sport and exercise scientist and researcher, with broad research interests around health and performance. He is a Fellow of the British Association for Sport and Exercise Sciences and an Associate Editor at the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Charlie has held positions with the British Olympic Association, English Institute of Sport (EIS) and is currently Chief Science Officer at Orreco.

Charlie helped set up a performance centre for the EIS and London Marathon at St Mary’s in 2002 and whilst embedded in high performance sport Charlie completed his PhD at Brunel University in 2007 entitled 'Sleep and Exercise during Acclimation and Acclimatisation to Moderate Altitude in Elite Athletes', which involved applied studies at altitude with GB national squads for Speedskating, Biathlon, Rowing, Kayaking, and Athletics. Charlie is co-organiser of Marathon Medicine, the London Marathon’s conference on the Science and Medicine of Endurance Running.

Charlie is an experienced research leader and has held the position of Academic Director of Research and Enterprise in the School of Sport, Health & Applied Science (2010-2015), leading the 2014 REF submission, and he has so far supervised 12 PhD students to completion and published over 90 peer-reviewed journal articles. In 2016 & 2017 Charlie undertook a 2-year research sabbatical at Massachusetts General Hospital, conducting research into the cardiovascular adaptations to marathon running. Charlie's research funding has come from various sources, for example:

  • Orreco
  • FIFA
  • the Irish Research Council
  • The Royal Ballet
  • the Ministry of Defence
  • Southampton FC
  • parkrun
  • SCA (Bodyform)
  • National Physical Laboratory
  • STRAVA
  • the delivery of sport and exercise science services at St Mary's University.

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