R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Ciências da Saúde

Unidade de I&D

Centro de Investigação em Actividade Física, Saúde e Lazer [HESC-Norte-Porto-617] visitada em 07/04/2008

Classificação: Very Good

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
This Research Unit consists of only one group that carries out basic and applied research in the field of physical activity with strong implications on health issues. In addition the group has an active education program focused on post-graduation, and is also involved in community interventions, particularly directed to physical activity of elderly and children populations, including exercise prescription and assessment. The group combines multiple disciplines, namely health sciences, biology, psychology. The number of PhD graduates has increased very much in the course of the last 4 years (from 3 in 2003 to 12 in 2008). The group participates in a number of important international networks.
Within the Faculty there is another RU that was created more recently. Although the 2 RUs appear to have different research focus that warrants their separate existence, it would be appropriate to join efforts particularly in the realization of the curricular part of the educational programs at the level of MSc and PhD.
The performance of the group in terms of publications is good taking the research area into consideration; the publication record includes a few papers in the top 10 journals in the field of the Sports Sciences, but also in Journals of lower impact; in addition the group publishes also in some journals of moderate impact in the fields of Applied Physiology, Toxicology, Biochemistry and related fields. The Panel recommends that the group should be more selective in the journals where they publish their research results by publishing more consequently in top international journals within their research field.
With respect to publications in the Portuguese language the Panel understands that these have a local usefulness but they should be in the form of informative booklets for schools and the general public, rather than for reporting results of scientific research.
The multidisplinarity is reflected on the background of the PhD students that range from health sciences, physiotherapy, nursing and sports sciences. There is a PhD program that includes basic courses (among which the “Physical Activity and Health” course) besides the PhD research work. It is the intention that the core of a PhD thesis will consist of 3 or 4 articles (published or accepted) in peer-reviewed journals. The PhD students (a few are foreigners) regard the environment of the Unit as very favourable for their training and scientific education.
The Unit offers 2 Master courses on “Health and fitness” and “Physical activity for the elderly”. Since 2004 within the Unit 65 MSc and 10 PhD dissertations were completed, what is an important achievement.
The Panel considers that the strength of the Unit resides on the quality of the multidisciplinary staff and their ability to rise funding; a main challenge is how the PhD graduates may continue their activity in the field and, eventually, may join the Unit. In this respect it is important to invest in sending PhD graduates abroad for a short post-doc period in order to deepen their research capacities, such that they may come back to reinforce the Unit’s human resources at a high level.
The Unit is well organized; it has a clear leadership and has the plan of focusing on 3 main areas: functional evaluation, body composition and quality of life determinants. The Unit should consider the formation of three groups according to these 3 areas with PIs carefully selected on the basis of their capacities and track-records. Nonetheless it is important that the Unit will keep the links between the three areas strong and will stimulate actively interactions between the groups. Furthermore the Unit launched the “Cardiac Rehabilitation” project in collaboration with a number of hospital departments. These are appropriate choices but the Panel recommends that the Unit would profit from having a stronger input from researchers with psycho-social and sociological backgrounds. Furthermore the Unit would profit also from close collaborations with specialized groups in human/animal physiology and biochemistry.
The Unit has good facilities and is well equipped. Nonetheless the Unit has specific requirements regarding human resources, namely the continuation of PhD positions and the creation of new Post-doc positions. The latter should give an opportunity to reinforce the psycho-social dimension of the Unit. Furthermore an investment in equipment for physiological measurements (isokinetic dynamometer; physio-flow; Doppler) is most welcome.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
Centro de Investigação em Actividade Física, Saúde e Lazer [RG-HESC-Norte-Porto-617-3093]