2018 Winner of the BASEM Research Bursary – Dr Nicky Keay

Dr Nicky Keay BA, MA (Cantab), MB, BChir, MRCP

Medical doctor with clinical and research experience in sports endocrinology

After competing medical training at Cambridge University and St Bartholomew’s hospital, Nicky gained practical and research experience at Geneva hospital assisting in research of female adolescent gymnasts and at a range of sports medicine centres in Australia. These included placements at the Olympic medical centre in Melbourne with Dr Peter Brukner and Prof Karim Khan and in Sydney at the North Shore sports medical centre with Dr Ken Critchon. As a research fellow in Endocrinology at St Thomas’ hospital, Nicky was part of the international medical team tasked with developing an anti-doping test for growth hormone. Other areas of research and publication have investigated the effects of training on development, bone health and endocrine status in dancers across a range of ages from adolescent, active professional adult dancers to retired professionals. This research was awarded sport medicine research scholarships and the young investigator award from the NOS. Nicky has always been a keen Ballet dancer and pleased to report that now back to 4 full classes per week (although retired from pointe work) following 2 THRs.

Assisting with the Research – Dr Karen Hind PhD, CCD

Senior Research Fellow, School of Sport, Leeds Beckett University & Visiting Fellow, Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University. Chair, International Society of Clinical Densitometry UK-Ireland Panel

Key areas of interest

  • Bone health, osteoporosis and fracture
  • Exercise as medicine
  • Athlete health
  • Retired athlete health

Following a Doctoral Fellowship with the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds, Karen was awarded a PhD in 2005. Her PhD research was the first to demonstrate a similar prevalence of low bone density in men and women elite long distance runners, and shared risk factors including high running mileage, relative energy deficiency and low body fat. Her post doctoral work was also conducted at the University of Leeds before moving to Leeds Beckett University in 2007 where she was instrumental in the set up of their dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) research unit and the Bone and Body Composition Research Group. Over the last 17 years, Karen has established an internationally recognised research portfolio primarily in the fields of bone health and body composition, DXA imaging, athlete health (including the Female Athlete Triad) and retired athlete health. She is also a former GB international athlete (track, road and cross country runner, 1999 – 2003).


The research proposal investigates the male cyclist in terms of health and performance, which hither to is a field lacking robust research and in particular lacking conclusive and practical recommendations for high level amateur road cyclists (of which there are ever growing numbers) over the duration of a training/competition season. This proposal is backed by evidence from pilot studies by Dr Keay and Dr Hind, which demonstrate the presence of suboptimal health and performance in male cyclists. In a subset of pilot studies with follow up DXA scan and performance assessment by FTP (Functional Threshold Power test as per British Cycling protocol) by Dr Keay, this provided indications of potential, practical interventions in regard to nutrition and exercise strategies, which require further quantitative evaluation.

Ultimately the aim of this research is to provide publications worthy both of BASEM and of high quality journals. The research also aims to provide recommendations for the expanding number of competitive amateur male road cyclists world wide, in order to optimise their health and performance in the longer term.

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