Author Topic: "Imagining the future of medicine" 21 April 2014  (Read 3121 times)


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"Imagining the future of medicine" 21 April 2014
« on: 22 Apr 2014 01:42AM »

Hi folks
On Monday I went to a fascinating event at the Royal Albert Hall.   It was a series of talks and a few performances called "Imagining the future of medicine".  I thought you might be interested in a little summary of each presentation:

Francis Wells (cardiothoracic surgeon at Papworth Hospital for nearly 30 years) talked about how Leonardo Da Vinci's extraordinarily detailed drawings of the mammalian heart have lead him to develop new methods of understanding the functioning of the human heart, especially its valves.

Jamil El Imad Chief Scientist at NeuroPro AG and Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Imperial College's Institute of Biomedical Engineering.  Demonstrated live the 3 pieces of technology which together allow real-time recording & analysis of EEG (brain waves).  They are the NeuroTrail Ambulatory Headset plus a cloud-based EEG Virtual Mobile Laboratory and finally WiNAM which allows the prediction of epileptic seizures  (he said the amount of warning varies across different people but can be as much as an hour's warning so enough time to stop current activity, move somewhere safe and private before seizure).   See      the three elements are independent, so they could also be used for other purposes (e.g. I guess the headset might possibly become a way to control a computer ...)

Mark Wilson is a Consultant Neurosurgeon who works at Imperial College & on London's Air Ambulance specialising in acute brain injury.   He researches the brain during hypoxia (e.g. in space and at high altitude) as a way of looking at the hypoxia people can suffer after a brain injury and finding treatments for it.

Sarah Jayne Blakemore is Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London (UCL) she was helped by the Islington Community Theatre in talking about the brains of adolescents - they aren't mad, but they are different from younger children and they are different from adults ....

Leo Cheng (Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon at Barts Hospital London) gave an inspiring description of the work of the "Mercy Ships" where volunteers take a fully equipped hospital ship to ports in Africa and provide modern healthcare - especially including surgery to treat facial tumours and cleft lip & palet which are both life-saving and life-transforming.

Ali Parsa (used to be with Circle the staff-controlled company which took over an NHS trust and turned it around) and now he's with Babylon Partners.   In the next few days they will be launching a new app which provides healthcare services (including, I think, some current body function monitoring and also medical advice) by smartphone.  Again he demonstrated some of the functions live and if you see   it tells you about the app you can pre-register for (I gather the official launch is going to be at Wired's event on 29th April  )

Jay Walker is the curator & chairman of TEDMED (see for loads of fascinating talks) and he created and curates the Library of the History of Human Imagination.  Jay talked about imagination then went on to interview Paul Freemont (Co-director & co-founder of the ESPRC for SYnthetic Biology & innovations, he works at Imperial College London) about developments in synthetic biology (basically this means creating artificial genes and working with them to resolve various engineering problems - including treating / possibly curing certain diseases).  They argued that synthetic biology could parallel natural evolution over the next 100 years ...

After a break we had the wonderful Caos Signing Choir for Deaf & Hearing children then a short performance by Alison Balsom (renowned classical trumpet player) and she went on to talk about her work with Brass for Africa ( ) which is a charity which empowers youngsters in disadvantaged communities through music...

Next came Tali Sharot who is a neuroscientist at UCL and principal investigator at the Affective Brain Lab talking about how many people are biased in favour of optimism about the future - so we aren't only affected by our past, we are also shaped by what we expect about the future.

Katherine Sleeman is a Palliative Care specialist from the Kings College London Cicely Saunders Institute who gave a fascinating talk about improving quality of life for people who are dying, what do we mean by a good death and the individual and societal barriers to this.

Finally Ben Goodacre gave a fast paced presentation about the need for Pharmaceutical companies to publish ALL of the clinical trials data for the drugs we get prescribed, so that doctors can evaluate all of the facts.  Currently about half of trial data does not get published and surprise surprise the stuff not published is mostly the trials which don't support the drug ....     
After hearing this talk I was happy to sign the petition at 

It was a great way to spend my bank holiday!
regards, Deb


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Re: "Imagining the future of medicine" 21 April 2014
« Reply #1 on: 22 Apr 2014 09:59AM »
Hi Deb,
How very, very interesting. Thank you so much for your very clear and precise description of what must have been a wonderful day.
I shall really look forward to exploring the contents of the links that you have so thoughtfully provided.
Thanks again and best wishes


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Re: "Imagining the future of medicine" 21 April 2014
« Reply #2 on: 22 Apr 2014 10:57AM »
"Imagining the future of medicine" Could be a bitter pill :-)

Seriously Deb's it certainly does seem to have been very interesting, the one wee worry, I am a worrier aren't I :-), the idea around smart phones given what is in the press recently about the hacking of smart phones I would be concerned about how such hacking could impact on such applications.


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Re: "Imagining the future of medicine" 21 April 2014
« Reply #3 on: 22 Apr 2014 11:13AM »
It maybe impossible to avoid hacking so maybe a better approach would be to encrypt all data on entry so any transmission and storage has automatic security (at least partially).

I don't know what the difficulties with this would be, practically, but modern processors (even in phones) are fast enough that this should not be a usability issue.

This still leaves the problem of the biggest weakness, the humans at either end of the data, but that would be no worse than now.


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Re: "Imagining the future of medicine" 21 April 2014
« Reply #4 on: 23 Apr 2014 01:49AM »
I am certain they will have done some encryption - it wasn't specifically mentioned, but can't imagine they would not!

Glad you liked the description
regards, Deb


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Re: "Imagining the future of medicine" 21 April 2014
« Reply #5 on: 02 May 2014 09:52PM »

I've been to some of these events this week in Manchester and Eccles (Salford Royal Hospital):-

I now have a bright red t-shirt with MANCHESTER PSORIASIS SHOUT OUT across the front. ;-) >biggergrin<


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Re: "Imagining the future of medicine" 21 April 2014
« Reply #6 on: 03 May 2014 12:33AM »
for those interested in the Babylon Partners application I mentioned above, it's now been launched: 

regards, Deb