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Pint of Science festival 2016

14 June 2016

The 2016 Pint of Science festival took place 23rd-25th May in Bristol, and showcased talks from members of the School of Clinical Sciences.

The Pint of Science festival aims to deliver interesting and relevant talks on the latest science research in an accessible format to the public – all in the pub!  It is run mainly by volunteers and was established by a community of postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers in 2012. It has spread to 100 cities around the world in 12 countries, featuring thousands of scientists. The main festival takes place annually over three days in the month of May simultaneously in pubs across the world. 

This year in Bristol, talks by members of the School of Clinical Science focused on heart disease, diabetes, and neurological disease. Dr Jason Johson, Prof Gianni Angelini, Dr Anna LongDr Kathleen GillespieDr Liz Coulthard and Dr Kanch Sharma all delivered engaging speeches.


On Monday 23rd May, the British Heart Foundation funded the Pint of Science cardiololgy talks:

How Inflammation Aids Our Bodies to Police Against Heart Disease: Good Cop / Bad Cop

Jason Johnson (Senior Research Fellow)

'Although heart disease has only gained recognition as a major cause of death in the last 100 years, post-mortem studies on Egyptian Mummies have confirmed that this disease has been affecting humans for many centuries. More recently our understanding of the complex disease of atherosclerosis, the underlying ailment that causes heart disease, has rapidly progressed due to cutting edge research. I presented a plotted history of research into heart disease and innnate immunity, highlighting key pathological studies from the past 250 years. I then discussed our research which involves examining if specific proteins on inflammatory cells (macrophages) may determine whether macrophages are helpful (good) or make things worse (bad). This included informing the audience that we aim to target bad macrophages to protect heart disease patients from serious ill-health whilst also preventing people having heart attacks in the first instance. Our end goal will be to use patient’s blood or in-hospital imaging to view bad macrophages so we can make informed decisions on how best to treat and prevent recurring cardiovascular diseases.'

Trust Me I Am A Heart Surgeon

Gianni Angelini (BHF Professor of Cardiac Surgery)

'Heart surgery has only been around as a speciality for a little over 50 years. What was initially a small high focus group of surgeons exploring the boundary of science and surgery has now exploded to new developments such as robotic, minimally invasive valve and coronary surgery, gene and stem cell therapy and much more. We must embrace new technology but at the same time maintain a basic science foundation and not forget that after all this is still a craft speciality. We have to “take engineering back to the heart”.'


On Tuesday 24th May, the speakers discussed how diabetes occurs and how their cutting-edge research will help to improve diagnostic methods. 

How to spot a diabetic person? A short guide

Anna Long (Research Associate)

'Treatment with insulin turns the deadly disease of type 1 diabetes into a condition most people survive but the cost is still high therefore our ultimate goal is to prevent diabetes. The words “laboratory test” don’t really inspire excitement but Anna will consider why these not-so-simple measurements are vital to the study and prevention of type 1 diabetes. We’ll discuss why we need to be able to predict who will develop diabetes? When we can accurately predict disease? And how we can improve laboratory tests to further this goal?'

Baby steps to diabetes

Kathleen Gillespie (Reader in Molecular Medicine)

'We all know that obesity is driving up the incidence of type 2 diabetes and this is a major health concern for the UK but why should we care about the “other type(s)” of diabetes? Kathleen will discuss the different kinds of diabetes that occur in the first year of life. In some cases the underlying causes have been identified but controversy still remains. Come and find out about the importance of early life events in type 1 diabetes and hear some intriguing ideas about why children with Down’s syndrome often develop diabetes.'


On Wednesday 25th May, the speakers explored neurological diease with the following talks: 

I Can't Remember

Liz Coulthard (Consultant Senior Lecturer)

'I gave a talk accompanied by Ivana Cooke. Ivana has early stage Alzheimer's disease and was able to describe her experience of developing symptoms and then being given a diagnosis of Alzheimer's. Ivana is also committed to one of our research studies and helped to highlight why better treatments for Alzheimer's are so desperately needed. In Bristol we focus on research that will allow early, accurate diagnosis of dementia as we now know that treatments are only likely to work in the early stages. We presented a few of our clinical trials ranging from MRI imaging studies looking for the earliest visible changes in people with Alzheimer's to pharmaceutical trials of potential disease modifying agent.'

Focused, Faster, Smarter: Performance Enhancing Drugs For The Brain

Kanch Sharma (Clinical Research Fellow)

'Performance enhancing drugs improving physical performance are well established but what about drugs or training methods of improving academic performance without actually studying? What if you could change you frazzled brain into a well oiled, focused machine capable of handling any task any type of homework. The chances are you already take something. From caffeine to meditation and everything in between, we review what you can do to improve your performance in an exam or on a pub quiz.'

Further information

The event page can be found at: https://pintofscience.co.uk/events/bristol

Edit: An earlier version of this news article accidentally omitted the speakers Anna Long and Kathleen Gillespie. We apologise for this error.

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