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Elizabeth Blackwell Annual Public Lectures – a look back

16 October 2019

With our 6th Elizabeth Blackwell Annual Public Lecture fast approaching we thought we’d share the previous lectures to give a flavour of the breadth of topics we have covered over the years.

Our Public Lectures are named after Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree in the USA and to be placed on the UK's medical register. Elizabeth was born in Bristol in 1821 and returned to the UK in 1859 to lecture at a social sciences congress held on the site now occupied by the Wills Memorial Building.

Members of the public are especially welcome to these lectures, which aim to revive the spirit of Elizabeth Blackwell’s Penny Lectures, designed to educate and to encourage new thinking, ideas and debate.

Dame Sally Davies inaugural public lecture (26 Nov 2014) - The drugs don’t work: the global threat of antibiotic resistance

The inaugural Elizabeth Blackwell Public Lecture was given by Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England and Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health. Dame Sally played a major role in the formation of the National Institute for Health Research and spoke out on many topics of major importance in public health. Dame Sally offered a stark warning about the growing problem of antibiotic resistance and its threat to future public health.

More on Dame Sally Davies' public lecture.

Find out more about our current work on antimicrobial resistance.

Dame Anne Johnson 2nd annual public lecture (2 Nov 2015) - When pathogens meet people: controlling infectious disease epidemics

Professor Dame Anne Johnson

The second Elizabeth Blackwell Public Lecture was given by Dame Anne Johnson, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Chair of the Population Health Domain and Vice Dean for external affairs in the Faculty of Population Health at University College London.

Dame Anne Johnson talked about her research into HIV and sexually transmitted infections, in particular the successes and a failure of population interventions to control these diseases. She also discussed future innovations in controlling emerging infections, drawing on recent novel research with flu and Ebola.

Find out more about Prof Dame Anne Johnson’s work and publications.

Find out about our work on infection and immunity.

Dr Fiona Godlee 3rd annual public lecture (10 Oct 2016) - Too much medicine: why we need to push back the tide of medical excess

The third Elizabeth Blackwell Public Lecture was given by Dr Fiona Godlee, Editor-in-Chief of The BMJ (formerly known as the British Medical Journal). Fiona qualified as a doctor in 1985 and is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. She has written on a broad range of issues, including the impact of environmental degradation on health, the future of the World Health Organization, the ethics of academic publication, and the problems of editorial peer review.

Too much medicine comes from a combination of overdiagnosis and overtreatment. Dr Fiona Godlee believes these are clearly linked. Overdiagnosis occurs when a diagnosis is “correct” according to current professional standards, but the diagnosis or associated treatment is unlikely to benefit the person. Both can co-exist with underdiagnosis and undertreatment.

More on Dr Fiona Godlee's public lecture, including transcript and slides.

In 2014 The BMJ launched a new strategy to promote patient partnership, seeing this as essential in improving the quality, safety, cost effectiveness and sustainability of healthcare.

Find out our work with patient and public involvement.

Dr Helen Stokes Lampard 4th annual public lecture (2 Nov 2017) - GPs on the Brink: Restoring the Joy to General Practice

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), and theatre maker Viv Gordon shared the stage for our fourth Annual Public Lecture.

The event unveiled and unpicked the realities of life as a GP in the current NHS, and the implications for GP’s mental wellbeing. Professor Stokes-Lampard, a GP in the Midlands and the RCGP Chair, talked about where the profession was currently and how we all have a part to play in restoring the joy to General Practice, while Viv Gordon shared readings from her new theatre work PreScribed (a Life Written for Me). Prescribed tells a witty and emotive story built from University of Bristol research into improving support for the estimated 13,000 UK GPs living with mental ill health.

Read the NIHR case study of the 'PreScribed' project, explaining how using theatre provides a novel way to raise awareness of doctors' mental health issues.

Find out about our work on young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Parveen Kumar 5th annual public lecture (22 Oct 2018) - Health in a global world: my personal journey

We were delighted to welcome Dame Professor Parveen Kumar in Bristol as our fifth Elizabeth Blackwell Annual Public Lecture speaker. Her talk was titled 'Health in a global world: my personal journey', a fascinating story from the foothills of Lahore through China and India, sharing her solitary (as one of very few women) educational experience to the top of the medical profession.

Dame Parveen talked to a packed audience in the Wills Memorial Building, reflecting on how her personal experiences and turbulent events of the 20th century informed her choices and how the challenges of healthcare around the world changed in that time. She discussed the main global health problems facing the world today and what are likely to be the biggest threats in the future. Despite all the challenges, medical students and researchers were encouraged to be courageous and never loose enthusiasm.

More on Dame Parveen Kumar's public lecture, including presentation slides.

Find out about our work on Global Public Health.

Dame Carol Black 6th annual public lecture (21 Oct 2019) - Working at Mental Health

Our sixth annual public lecture on mental health in the workplace with Dame Carol Black is now fully booked, but don’t worry you will still be able to catch the lecture. It is being live streamed on Twitter and we will share an audio file after the event. Follow us on Twitter (@EBIBristol) for more information on this.

Further information

Visit our events page for current health research events.

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