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Three tales from the biomedical frontier

Three winners of the Faculty of Medical Sciences’ postgraduate public-speaking prize describe their quests at the cutting edge of science, and how their findings may underpin the medical treatments of tomorrow.

Date/Time: 5th May 2015

'Brain drained': a tale of mitochondrial epilepsy

Felix Chan, Institute of Neuroscience

Mitochondria is the ‘battery’ of the cell, when these runs out; the brain tends to be the first to be affected. In a state of energy deficit – ‘brain drained’ – patients often suffer from severe forms of epilepsy (seizures).  We aim to understand how mitochondrial defect can lead to the development of epilepsy using live brain slice model. We have uncovered how mitochondrial epilepsy arises, what cells are affected, and generated the first ever model for mitochondrial epilepsy. 

Why do we Age? Telomeres: The Asynchronous Keepers of Biological Age

Rhys Anderson, Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology

Ageing is a phenomenon that affects everyone, and it is among the largest known risk factors for many human diseases. Understanding the ageing process per se is therefore of paramount importance in tackling these diseases and providing insights into our evolutionary history. Rhys will be talking about what causes our cells to age and the implications aged cells have on our tissues, with an insight into his PhD research on cardiac cells.

Fooled: how metal hips can confuse our immune system

Helen Lawrence, Institute of Cellular Medicine

Metal-on-metal hip replacements were introduced to provide a long lasting and hard-wearing joint replacement for young and active patients with conditions such as arthritis. However they have been associated with unpleasant side effects including pain, swelling and inflammation.

Helen has performed some truly ground-breaking research into the basis for inflammation following the implantation of metal-on-metal prosthetic hip replacements. She has shown that cobalt ions released from such joints are recognised by the immune system in a manner similar to bacteria, resulting in painful swelling and ultimate joint failure.