Beyond the laboratory, beyond the University, and beyond Bristol, BN is making a difference in numerous ways to benefit science and wider society.
Developing stem cell treatment for multiple sclerosis, research into dementia, therapies to prevent brain damage in babies, and pioneering neurosurgical techniques for movement disorders, depression and epilepsy are some of the translational research projects which have real impact in the clinic.
The neuroscience of aging, smoking, alcoholism, blood pressure, exercise and dementia, and the neurological and psychological factors influencing food intake - all studied in BN - have important implications for public health policy and individual lifestyle choice. Mental health issues, too, have a big impact in society; Bristol research on suicide led to changes that dramatically reduced death rates.
Findings from the lab and clinic can become reality through close collaborations with the pharmaceutical industry. BN's industrial partners include Eli Lilly, Pfizer and Tocris Bioscience - a company that has its origins in the university. Start-up companies, founded by people in BN, are another way that our research makes a difference, eg Apitope and its pioneering treatments for multiple sclerosis.
The Neuroscience and Education Network strives to counter classroom ‘neuromyths’ and allow education to benefit from real science. A large ESRC-funded initiative, led by members of BN, led to the report Neuroscience and education: issues and opportunities, used by Peers and MPs, teachers, policy-makers, and educational researchers to ensure classroom practice is informed by robust neuroscience research.
BN has contributed to creative projects in art, drama, film, new media, street performance and more; the 2008 Creative Brain lecture series showcased leading figures in the arts and sciences such as Lord Putnam, Semir Zeki, and AS Byatt, and the Laboratories for Integrative Neuroscience and Endocrinology is the only science establishment to have ever gained arts council funding, money which funded the innovative window installation (see photo).
Bristol’s neuroscience research ranks in the top five* UK Universities for its 'world leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’ work. With international recognition for groups such as the Bristol MRC Centre for Synaptic Plasticity and the Laboratories for Integrative Neurosciences and Endocrinology (LINE), BN has high impact in the world of science. *RAE 2008
BN is well-known for its public engagement work, enabling two-way dialogue between BN members - professional scientists and clinicians - and people throughout all sectors of society. School workshops, 'science on the street', lectures, a mini-film festival, and collaborations with playwrights and artists are just some of the ways in which we engage with the public, everywhere from the local shopping centre to helping run the first ever public science event in South Korea.
Partnerships with Computer Science, Engineering, and the Bristol Robotics Lab (BRL) has led to real-life technological applications of neuroscience research. One application of the computer vision group is a computer aided system for the blind, whilst the intelligent systems group explores and exploits principles underlying learning and intelligence. Projects at BRL include empathy in humanoids and a rat-inspired artificial whisker sensor system.
Members of BN are sought by policy makers such as Department of Health for their expertise and views, and many are involved in writing clinical guidelines for NICE. As Research Council committee members, Trustees of non-governmental organisations, part of advisory boards, or through providing reports, BN members have direct impact on important societal issues.