Institute for Ageing

Staff Profile

Dr Karen Davies

AGE Resource Manager


I joined the university in January 2002, taking up a central role in the design and management of the flagship MRC-funded Newcastle 85  study (pilot study: (2003-2004) - main study: baseline (2006) - phase 4 (2014)), along with EU-funded research examining genetic influences of longevity (the Genetics of Healthy Ageing [GEHA] project). 

Since 2015 I have been part of the Ageing Geriatrics & Epidemiology (AGE) research group (AGE resource manager since 2016), lead by Professor Avan Aihie Sayer, within the Institute of Neuroscience. The multidisciplinary research undertaken by this group focuses on the role of skeletal muscle in ageing, health and disease across the life course, particularly in relation to the geriatric syndromes of sarcopenia and frailty.

During my career to date I have accumulated an integrated set of distinctive clinical and research skills relevant for multi disciplinary ageing research and acquired deep knowledge of the practical and ethical considerations of engaging older individuals in research. I have provided frequent advice to internal and external research groups and participated in discussions with an MRC-convened committee around the introduction of the Mental Capacity Act.


Resource Manager of the Ageing Geriatrics & Epidemiology (AGE) research group, led by Professor Avan Aihie Sayer, within the Institute of Neuroscience.  The primary focus of this group is given to improve the lives of older people through world-class interdisciplinary research from a lifecourse perspective to ageing and long-term conditions including sarcopenia, frailty and multimorbidity. With translation of research findings into advances in prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

MASS_Lifecourse: Muscle Ageing Sarcopenia Studies_lifecourse: establishing an early sarcopenia cohort for advances in prevention, diagnosis and treatment (co-applicant (June 2018- planned to 2021) . BRC funded).

Recruit 160 adult participants, aged between 45 and 85 years from both primary an secondary care.


  1. COHORT DEVELOPMENT: To determine the acceptability and feasibility of setting up a world first life course cohort study to include deep phenotyping of skeletal muscle (the Newcastle Early Sarcopenia Cohort

  2. PREVENTION: To characterise changes in skeletal muscle in relation to lifestyle leading to the development of preventive strategies

  3. DIAGNOSIS: To take an omics approach to identifying mechanisms of skeletal muscle loss and sarcopenia and develop biomarkers for early diagnosis

  4. TREATMENT: To use findings from aims 2 and 3 to inform new approaches to treatment, as well as offering eligible participants the chance to take part in trials related to sarcopenia

  5. FUTURE: To secure funding beyond the current awarded grant for maintaining and expanding the cohort

MASS_PD: What is the role of skeletal muscle dysfunction in Parkinson's disease?

Co-applicant (2017-present) BRC funded

  1. Assess the feasibility of examining sarcopenia using detailed imaging methodology, muscle biopsy and novel measures of muscle health in PD participants; and
  2.  Evaluate findings, describing their association with muscle structure, strength and physical and performance; and
  3. Describe associations between sarcopenia, muscle structure and cognition, using a comprehensive cognitive battery.

MASS_Pilot (Muscle and Ageing Science Study (MASS)):

Local PI (2016). CiC MRC- and BRC funded.

Successfully delivered aims:  

  1. assess the feasibility and acceptance of examining sarcopenia using detailed imaging scans, muscle biopsy and novel measures of muscle health in a very old community dwelling population group ( n19 participants aged 85 fully recruited)
  2. evaluate findings, describe their association with muscle structure, strength and physical performance from detailed health profiling
  3. provide essential data for planned future substantive research