Institute of Cellular Medicine

Staff Profile

Professor Michael Trenell

Director; NIHR Innovation Observatory



I am a clinical scientist who joined the Newcastle team from Australia in 2006. I am honoured to be Director of the  National Institute for Health Research Innovation Observatory, Director of MoveLab as well as part of the leadership team of the RCUK Centre for Ageing and Vitality at Newcastle Univeristy, 

I have a specialist interest in innovation in health, driven by my work in how lifestyle influences lifelong health and wellbeing and chronic disease, particularly diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia and stroke.

Within the NIHR Innovation Observatory I am leading the application of Big Data analytics tools, from text mining to machine learning and cognitive analytics to understand global trends in health innovation. 

Outside of the NIHR Innovation Observatory,  I lead programmes of research exploring what causes chronic disease and how lifestyle influences these, with a specific interest in the use of digital tools and mobile technology. 

Our major programmes of work are currently funded by: the NIHR, MRC, EPSRC, ESRC, Alzheimer's Society, NHS, European Union and industry. 

Specialties: Diabetes, physiology, exercise, physical activity, lifestyle change, disease prevention, chronic disease management, weight management, sleep.

Click here to access my LinkedIn profile


  • FRCP - Edinburgh (UK)
  • PhD - Sydney (Aus)
  • MBA - Durham (UK)
  • MSc - Leeds (UK)
  • BSc(hon) - Leeds (UK)


Previous Positions


  • Diabetes UK RD Lawrence Fellow;  Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK (Diabetes and physical activity). 
  • Research Fellow; Woolcock Institute for Medical Research, Sydney, Australia (Respiratory disorders and metabolic function)
  • Research Fellow; Kolling Medical Research Research Institute, Sydney, Australia (Neurogenetics)




  • Diabetes UK
  • European Association for the Study of Diabetes
  • Association for the Study of Obesity
  • International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
  • British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences
  • Australian Association of Medical Researchers



  • EPSRC Healthcare Strategic Advisory Team
  • RCUK Newcastle Centre for Brain Ageing and Vitality, Deputy Director 
  • MoveLab, Director 
  • International Diabetes Federation, m-Health expert group member (past)
  • World Innovation Summit for Health, digital health and NCD expert group member (past)
  • Diabetes UK Science and Research Advisory board (past)

Honours and Awards


  • Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh, 2015
  • Diabetes UK RD Lawrence Lecture 2014
  • NIHR Senior Research Fellow, 2011-2016. 
  • Innovators in Diabetes (iDia) program recipient, Diabetes UK, 2008
  • Diabetes UK RD Lawrence Fellow, June 2007-2010
  • Ministry for Science & Medical Research, Postdoctoral Award for Excellence in Science. Australian Society for Medical Research, July 2006.
  • Sydney University, Overseas postgraduate scholarship award, 2001-03.


Informal Interests

Cycling, snowboarding, rugby, coffee......being dad to my two lovely daughters. 


Research Interests

My core projects are looking at the application of Big Data analytics tools to understand healthcare innovation. These involve the creation and application of digitals tools to understand clinical trials, patent findings, market activity, clinical needs to inform policy makers, researchers, funders and industry partners. 

Other Expertise

I am also interested in how metabolism can be improved in a number of different metabolic disorders. A significant focus of my research is on how increased physical activity and exercise can be used as a clinical therapy in metabolic disorders (Type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease), neuromuscular disease, ageing and in promoting lifelong health and wellbeing.

I also have a strong background in multinuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and imaging techniques and use these frequently to investigate metabolism.

In January 2009 I established MoveLab under pump priming funding from the Medical Research Council with clinical colleagues in Newcastle. The objective of this laboratory is to provide a complete translational research platform; building both the evidence base of movement as a clinical therapy and a pathway for delivery into care.

At a basic science level, we have a program of studies investigating the interaction of physical inactivity, physical activity, and exercise upon molecular, genetic and metabolic function with collaborators in the UK and overseas.

At an intermediate level, we are addressing two key questions: what type of activity is best and how much is needed to use physical activity and exercise as a therapy? These studies are identifying the dose response of both resistance and aerobic exercise upon clinical outcomes.

At a clinical delivery level, we are working with clinical care and patient groups to move these findings into clinical care. We are developing the UK’s first accredited professional and patient development pathways for physical activity and exercise for use as a clinical therapy in primary care. This is an exciting area which is expanding rapidly.

Aside from clinical populations, I also work with healthy people to better understand how people maintain a healthy metabolism (a useful comparison for clinical populations). We are also using exercise as a stimulus to better understand how nutritional interventions can help optimise metabolic control.

Current Work

My current key projects include:

  • Text mining tools for academic literature
  • Text mining tools for clinical trials

  • The implementation of physical activity to management Type 2 diabetes in Primary Care (eHealth/mHealth)
  • The implementation of physical activity to prevent cardiovascular disease in Primary Care  (eHealth/mHealth)  
  • Physical activity and exercise in liver disease 
  • The development of methods for the assessment of physical activity (MOVEeCloud)
  • The effect of physical activity and exercise on the ageing phenotype


Postgraduate Supervision

I currently supervise 7 PhD students and 2 masters students.

Esteem Indicators


  • NIHR Senior Research Fellow 
  • NIHR / MRC College of Experts, Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation programme.
  • Diabetes UK, Young Innovators in Diabetes, program recipient.
  • Diabetes UK, RD Lawrence Fellow
  • Ministry for Science & Medical Research, Postdoctoral Award for Excellence in Science. Australian Society for Medical Research.



The laboratory currently receives funding from:

  • The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) 
  • The Medical Research Council (MRC)
  • Research Councils UK (RCUK) 
  • The European Union FP7 Programme
  • North East Health Innovation Education Cluster
  • NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Ageing & Age Related Disease 
  • Diabetes UK
  • County Durham & Darlington NHS Primary Care Trust
  • County Durham Sport 
  • Newcastle Hospitals Trust Special Trustees
  • The Pharmaceutical Industry
  • Newcastle University Strategic Fund