Director of SINAPSE

Thank you so much for your support over the past 7 years. I’m fortunate that the opportunity to take over from Joanna Wardlaw as Director of SINAPSE came at just the right time in my career. It gave me a chance to regain a focus on science and to work with exciting people who share a mission to advance knowledge in their field. The concept of research pooling makes so much sense, especially in our setting where collectively it gives us the critical mass to compete in the UK and internationally. In many ways our ethos of sharing is the antidote to the xenophobic mindset that is currently behind much of the political unrest. The SINAPSE map of the countries of origin of students is something in which we can be justly proud.

Before becoming Director of SINAPSE I had been involved, at various stages in my career, in R&D projects that used EEG, CT, molecular imaging, MRI or ultrasound; and worked with researchers from all professions involved in SINAPSE. When I first started CT had only recently been developed and MRI was just emerging from test laboratories. So it’s been an amazing 46 years and involvement in SINAPSE helped to bring it all together.

I’ll not go on about all the achievements of SINAPSE as they have been well documented in our reports and on our website. These are all down to you and your colleagues in the participating Universities. One achievement that I must mention, however, is the role that SINAPSE has played in the development of outstanding research scientists. Seeing many of our early students now in more advanced positions is very satisfying. There was a double benefit in studentships. Not only did the students learn from superb supervisors, but also the research projects that they were involved in came on in leaps and bounds due to the additional pairs of very willing hands and inquisitive minds. I know that I’m not alone in nagging the Scottish Funding Council to resume support for studentships.

It would be wrong of me, however, to dwell too much on this one issue without acknowledging the overall support of SFC in the past and also the invaluable advice from Sir David Carter and the Board for Academic Medicine. Thanks also to CSO for their support. Our links to the NHS are crucially important for medical research that is underpinned by imaging.

Another achievement of SINAPSE has been the huge success of our Annual Scientific Meetings and other smaller meetings. Two keynote addresses come to mind – Bill Jagust at the 2015 SINAPSE ASM in Aberdeen and Paul Matthews at the 2016 UK PET Chemistry Meeting hosted by SINAPSE in Edinburgh. They were both enlightening and authoritative, delivered by world leading researchers who didn’t just brag about what they know, but emphasised what we don’t know and where future research needs to focus. It was also gratifying to listen to splendid presentations by many of our young students and early career researchers. By providing the opportunity to present in these settings, I hope that SINAPSE is helping to give them the confidence that their talents merit.

Oh, and just one more. The SINAPSE student induction events at Burn House, and the recent welcome event in Stirling, were all invaluable in helping to paint the bigger picture. They brought together students from different settings and with different skills and scientific expertise. Feedback was very positive and the events bring back fond memories for both the students and the organisers. I’m sure that the ASMs and induction events will go from strength to strength.

When I took over from Joanna I found myself in an organisation that was already working very efficiently and effectively. Thank you Joanna, and thanks also to Janet De Wilde who had developed the administrative framework that still underpins our work. Thanks also to Sally Pimlott for setting up the Molecular Imaging topic group in a way that others are now emulating. Another very satisfying development has been to watch Kristin Flegal take to the role of Lead Scientist like a duck to water. We are so lucky. Please look after her.

It’s great that Alison Murray will take over as Director and bring a fresh slant to the challenge. I know that she is looking forward to it, that she will be a popular Director and that you’ll provide the support that’s essential for SINAPSE to function. The team of Alison and Kristin will be a strong one and the future is bright. As has been mentioned, I don’t intend to walk away. I still hope to be part of SINAPSE; but I won’t interfere in the management or sit glowering in the grandstand. I promise.

All the best



Prof David Wyper served as Director of SINAPSE from April 2010 through March 2017