On Saturday, 10 February, we began exploring our first Burning Question with a dynamic showcase of research on healthcare.
In 50 years’ time if you need a new liver, one will be printed for you. New technology lets scientists swap one ‘letter’ of your DNA code for another. Creative activities are key to wellbeing. Doctors are trained how to break bad news to patients. Your genes affect whether you have a sweet tooth – and how many tooth fillings you have.
On Saturday, 10 February, Homerton College gave members of the public a series of 8-minute, speed-dating style, introductions to the work done by Homerton researchers in the broad field of healthcare. Since members of the College work in departments across the University of Cambridge, the different stations shed light on the topic from many different angles. Research from Engineering, Education, Public Health, Radiology, Stem Cells, Genetics, Biostatistics, Health Improvement Studies, and Molecular Biology was all on display. As well as learning about each station individually, Action Stations also gave attendees the rare chance to see how so many different areas of science interconnect.
However, with only 8 minutes at each station, it was a race against the clock to get to grips with all the ideas! To do this, the researchers brought short activities which could easily represent the research which is usually confined to laboratories. Dr Stephen Burgess, from the MRC Biostatistics Unit, invited guests to choose their favourite between normal and sugar free soda, without knowing which was which. They then discussed whether those who preferred the sugar free drink had fewer tooth fillings than those who didn’t, and how this preference could be a result of your genetic profile.
Following this quick-fire tour, attendees and researchers alike were able to further discuss the issues and ideas together over refreshments in the Great Hall.
Action Stations was a fantastic introduction to Homerton College’s growing hub of healthcare research, and a great way to kick off our first Burning Question: What is the Future of Healthcare? We will continue to explore this topic throughout the year, especially in events coming up over the next couple of months.