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Epigenetics in public health: the stuff of legends?

24 May 2017

Lotte Houtepen represented the Interstela project in her recent talk as part of the Pint of Science festival

What is Pint of Science?

Pint of Science is a non-profit organisation that brings some of the most brilliant scientists to your local pub to discuss their latest research and findings with you. You don't need any prior knowledge and this is your chance to meet the people responsible for the future of science (and have a pint with them). Their festival runs over a few days in May every year and occasionally run events during other months. 

Epigenetics in public health: the stuff of legends?

Lotte Houtepen, Senior Research Associate in Epigenetic Epidemiology at the University of Bristol presented to an audience in Rise / Friska in Bristol's popular and unique Clifton Triangle.

The audience included people between the ages of 21 and 68, roughly a quarter didn't work in science or engineering, feedback from the group was they had fun, learnt stuff and are interested in doing more of these sorts of events. And it wasn't just the audience that benefited, Lotte found that it was a really nice change to put her own research into lay terms - plus it was a lot of fun to do!

Epigenetics is one of the fastest moving fields in life science. It helps us investigate how actions and events can have long lasting effects on our health. It can fill in gaps in our understanding of human health. Which means it has enormous potential in public health. However, scientists are still unlocking this potential. We need to know what these markers are telling us, before we can speculate on fixes. One specific measure is the epigenetic clock, which estimates someone's age with good accuracy. People whose epigenetic age is older than their actual age often have poorer health.

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