British Science Festival 2021

Human health is top of the agenda at the British Science Festival 2021

With public and global health having taken centre stage over the past 18 months, experts and researchers bring health closer to home at the British Science Festival next month. The Festival takes place in Chelmsford, 7-11 September 2021, and is hosted this year by Anglia Ruskin University.

For many, health – whether personal or in broader societal sense – has been something to think about much more in the past year-and-a-half. The knowledge that underlying medical conditions can have such a large effect on an individual’s response to COVID-19, for instance, has opened our eyes to the lifestyles we lead and what we can do to improve them.

The Festival programme has something of interest for everyone, from visible medical conditions to medical conditions affecting vision, as well as the everyday health questions around immunisations and alcohol consumption that are so often discussed in the media and at dinner tables across the UK.

Below are more of the health-related sessions scheduled. The Festival itself is open to all and no previous knowledge of science is necessary. As well as health, there are sessions on music, gardening, exercise, environmental and mental health events on offer. To see the full programme, visit the British Science Festival website.

Conversations around vaccination have been heated, divisive and plagued by propaganda since long before the age of COVID-19. Measles, once thought to be almost eliminated from the UK, has made a significant comeback in recent years.

Our panel of experts from the Royal College of Pathologists will delve into the facts verses fiction, getting to the bottom of the truth about vaccines. The panel will also touch on the role social media plays in the declining vaccine uptake for preventable infectious diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella and, of course, the coronavirus.

Chaired by microbiologist Angharad Davies, alongside political communication expert Andrew Chadwick and vaccinologist Beate Kampmann, this panel explores how social media platforms, memes and media have been used to share vaccine myths, why vaccines matter and how we can best protect vulnerable individuals and communities in our society.

We’ve all heard before that too much, too often isn’t the healthiest lifestyle when it comes to alcohol, but can a small amount actually be beneficial for our hearts?

Rudolph Schutte (Anglia Ruskin University) examines how previous research showing the alleged benefits of limited alcohol consumption is riddled with systematic errors. Have these errors promoted the controversial idea that the occasional drink can be good for our cardiovascular health? If so, why have scientists been getting it wrong?

Join Rudolph to get to the bottom of this debate, discover which compounds might be confusing the data, and find out how you can make an informed decision before picking up your next pint.

  • Vector Saturday 11 September, 12.00 – 13.15pm and 2.30pm – 3.45pm

Welcome to Biocore, the ethical pharmaceutical company!

We are keen to involve the public in all of our research pathways. Thank you for agreeing to participate in one of our unique public ethical review boards.

New to ethical review? Don’t worry! Working as part of a team and against rival labs, you will be guided by our Artificial Intelligence System to future proof our vaccine development pipeline by deciding on the most effective and ethical research model.

Vector uses elements of performance, gameplay and integrated technology to allow participants to make decisions and react to their consequences, in an expanding narrative that explores the ethics that society faces when using animals as part of medical research.

Endometriosis affects one in ten people who menstruate in the UK. When cells resembling the endometrium – the uterine lining – are found outside the uterus, it can cause symptoms like painful periods and heavy bleeding. People often suffer for years before getting a diagnosis: endometriosis.

That’s where reproductive biologist Magda Marecková (University of Oxford) and gynaecologist Srividya Seshadri (Centre for Reproductive & Genetic Health) come in. Magda’s research is unravelling how individual cells of the endometrium function while Srividya is on-the-ground, supporting people affected by this condition.

In this special panel event chaired by Essex-based Carla Cressy whose experience of endometriosis led to her founding The Endometriosis Foundation, these three experts share their experiences investigating, treating and living with endometriosis.

Endometriosis is more than a period, and people don’t have to live with it on their own.

Wearable sensors can be integrated into clothing or accessories to monitor health. This technology is not just for your smart watch but is also breaking boundaries for how we assess patients in hospital.

Surgeon Meera Joshi, from Imperial College London, has taken this hardware to the hospital ward, using sensors to monitor and identify the development of sepsis – a life-threatening reaction to an infection. In this award-winning lecture, Meera will share the latest developments in this new technology and how it can be used to improve healthcare in our communities.

Eczema and psoriasis are too often seen as minor inconveniences, sorted out with a few dollops of moisturiser and swiftly forgotten.

However, for many, these conditions can have severe and long-lasting impacts, not just on skin, but also mental health. So why is there so little psychological support available for patients battling these chronic conditions?

Join biologist Hephzi Tagoe from GhScientific alongside dermatology researcher Edel O’Toole (Royal London Hospital) as they explore the impact that dry skin conditions can have on body image and what this means in terms of mental wellbeing. They will touch on recent research exposing the minimal support for those who are struggling, and why these issues are rarely recognised.

Across the world millions of people are living with preventable blindness.

Collaborating with a global network of 102 leading eyesight researchers including the World Health Organization (WHO), Anglia Ruskin University’s (ARU) research is contributing to the most comprehensive dataset on global blindness.

Less economically developed countries have more issues with vision loss. This is largely a result of reduced access to healthcare and less education about how certain diseases, like diabetes, affect eye health.

With 80% of the world’s blindness either avoidable or treatable, disability activist and author of ‘Kika and Me’, Amit Patel speaks with optometrists Shahina Pardhan and Rupert Bourne from ARU’s Vision and Eye Research Institute to discuss the vital work that is and needs to happen to ensure people get the information and treatment they need.

Other events of interest include Fighting fibrosis (with Selim Cellek, ARU, Thursday 9 September, 1.00pm – 1.45pm), Killer fungus (with Neil Gow, University of Exeter, Friday 10 September, 4.00pm – 4.45pm) and Lockdown lowdown: how we lived (with Lee Smith, ARU, Wednesday 8 September, 12.00pm – 12.45pm)

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