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Miles D. Witham

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Biography

Dr Witham graduated from Oxford University and worked in a number of hospitals in the south of England and Australia before discovering the delights of Scotland. He undertook his PhD in Dundee running a randomised controlled trial of exercise training for older chronic heart failure patients, before taking up post as Clinical Lecturer in Ageing and Health in 2003.

 In October 2007, he commenced an NES / CSO Clinician Scientist award, with a duration of 5 years; he completed clinical training in geriatrics and general medicine in late 2009 before taking up post as Clinical Senior Lecturer in Ageing and Health, becoming Clinical Reader in Ageing and Health in July 2013.

 Dr Witham works as an honorary consultant geriatrician with NHS Tayside, undertaking community geriatrics work, general older people’s outpatients and helps to run the Dundee Memory Clinic service. He is a member of the Health Services and Population research Committee (Chief Scientist Office, Scottish Government) and contributes to the Scottish polypharmacy guideline working group.

Research

Pleiotropic interventions to improve the health of older people:

Multimorbidity is the norm in older people, but most interventions are tested in younger people without comorbid disease, who take few other medications. Conducting trials in typical frail older people is therefore critical if we are to build the evidence base we need to treat older people, and this forms a major focus of work in our department. Recent trials have included extensive work on the cardiovascular effects of vitamin D in different populations, the effects of exercise training in older heart failure patients, interventions for muscle weakness in older people, and a large, ongoing trial of bicarbonate for older patients with advanced CKD.

Finding interventions with multiple beneficial effects in older people (e.g. on cardiovascular disease, bone health, sarcopenia) is a key goal – such interventions could circumvent the hazard and inconvenience of polypharmacy –i.e. having to take multiple medications for each illness an older person has. By using routinely collected health, functional and social care data, we aim to find potential candidate interventions that might provide overall benefit to the health and function of older people, and use this observational data as a platform for future trials.

Teaching

Dr Witham runs the third year Ageing and Health teaching and examining, and contributes to administering, marking and examining fourth year undergraduate geriatric medicine teaching. He also contributes to medical postgraduate and nursing staff teaching, and runs the Tayside StR Research training course for higher specialist medical trainee doctors. He is an associate member of the Higher Education Academy.

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