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Elizabeth Blackwell Annual Public Lectures

1 April 2021

We are delighted to announce our 8th Elizabeth Blackwell Annual Public Lecture with Professor Sarah Gilbert on Wednesday 6 October, 13:00-14:00 BST (GMT+1). She will talk about the Development of the Oxford AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.

Please register for this free public lecture on the Eventbrite page.

Sarah Gilbert is Professor of Vaccinology in the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of East Anglia and her doctoral degree at the University of Hull. Following four years as a research scientist at the biopharmaceutical company Delta Biotechnology she joined Oxford University in 1994 and became part of the Jenner Institute (within NDM) when it was founded in 2005.  

Her chief research interest is the development of viral-vectored vaccines that work by inducing strong and protective T and B cell responses. She works on vaccines for many different emerging pathogens, including influenza, Nipah, MERS, Lassa, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, and SARS-CoV-2.  

Working with colleagues in the Jenner Institute research labs, the Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility and Centre for Clinical Vaccinology and Tropical Medicine, all situated on the Old Road Campus in Oxford, she is able to take novel vaccines from design to clinical development, with a particular interest in the rapid transfer of vaccines into manufacturing and first in human trials. She is the Oxford Project Leader for ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, the Oxford AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. 

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.

Below we share our previous public lectures to give a flavour of the breadth of topics we have covered over the years.

Professor Dame Sue Hill 7th annual public lecture (30 November 2020) - Genomics and Healthcare - New Opportunities


We were delighted to welcome Professor Dame Sue Hill virtually to Bristol for our 7th annual Elizabeth Blackwell Public Lecture on 30 November 2020. Dame Sue is Chief Scientific Officer for NHS England and Senior Responsible Officer for Genomics in NHS England and NHS Improvement.

In her talk she discussed the strides being made to embed genomics into the NHS in England through the NHS Genomic Medicine Service, the power and potential of personalised medicine and how genomics is already having a positive impact on the lives of patients and their families.

Dame Sue highlighted the current challenges for healthcare systems (including affordability, ageing populations, equity of access, meeting individual’s needs) and the possible future directions healthcare systems can take - at one end, a focus on improvements to population health, at the other increasing personalisation and management approaches.

More on Dame Sue Hill's public lecture, including presentation slides.

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

Listen to an audio recording of the lecture

We were delighted to welcome Professor Dame Carol Black to Bristol for our 6th annual Elizabeth Blackwell Public Lecture on 21 October 2019. Dame Carol is expert government advisor on health and work, and an inspirational leader. She talked about her influential campaigns on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, to a packed audience at the Wills Memorial Building.

There is a high incidence of mental health issues in the UK workforce, across a broad range of dimensions and the determinants of health are largely social. Major barriers to this are poor mental health and wellbeing. The essential enablers of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, she explained, are: leadership, Board engagement and manager capability.

"Culture is key. There is a very strong relationship between line manager support and mental wellbeing.”

Annual Public Lecture 2019 slides (PDF, 4,325kB)

Find out about our work on Mental Health.

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 reflected 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.

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.

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.

Find out our work with patient and public involvement.

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.

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.

Further information

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