Hot on the heels of a science exhibition at the Royal Society in London this summer, explaining how our genes can be influenced by our environment and lifestyle – a research field known as epigenetics – The Babraham Institute’s next public engagement event tackles an issue that affects us all, the science of healthy ageing. Following an international conference on Ageing Research at Babraham next month, there will be an event for the public at the Guildhall on Saturday 22nd September that will enable people to engage with researchers to consider the scientific and clinical challenges as well as the socio-economic issues of an ageing population.
Michael Coleman, a Group Leader at the Babraham Institute and lead organiser of the international Conference said, “Ageing is a concern that none of us can avoid and also an increasingly important issue at the population level. At best it causes a steady decline in a wide range of bodily functions and at worst it greatly increases our risk of age-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's disease. All of these have a major economic cost, both through the ageing population themselves and through the ever increasing army of younger carers that become unavailable for other types of work.”
“Today, scientists across the world are beginning to address the molecular and cellular details of how our bodies change during normal ageing, what this tells us about the process of age-related disorders, and how the period of healthy ageing could be extended.”
Around 200 delegates will gather at the Babraham Institute on 20-21st September for this major international conference that brings world-leading scientists in ageing research from several countries including the USA, Europe and Israel to discuss their findings and new ideas. Both the meeting and the Institute are substantially funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) together with additional funding from charities focussed on age-related disease and the commercial sector.
Dr Claire Cockcroft, who leads the Public Engagement events at the Babraham Institute said, “This public event at the Guildhall will report some of the highlights of this conference and provide opportunities for discussion with UK-based and international scientists, representatives from Alzheimer's Research UK, clinical and commercial scientists and health economists.
“We wanted to take advantage of having world-renowned international speakers in Cambridge for our conference and saw this as a perfect opportunity to organise an event for our local community to find out about new research directions in ageing and have the opportunity to engage with our researchers. This is a two-way process, both enabling scientists to listen to people’s views and for the public to find out more about how bioscience research is conducted, funded and to debate the wider social and economic issues that confront society. The aim is both to explain how scientists are addressing the important topic of ageing and to consult on areas of public concern that future science could seek to address.”
Alongside public engagement activities like this and participation in Science Festivals, The Babraham Institute has one of the most active schools’ outreach programmes in the country, delivering a wide range of activities and experiences to several thousand pupils each year from primary school to 6th Form, which is hoped will inspire the next generation of researchers. With the emphasis on a healthier and longer lifespan, it is hoped that both young and old will attend the Ageing debate; developing future therapies and strategies for tackling the burden of disease, as well as ensuring appropriate healthcare and economic policies are in place to provide for an older society, are challenges that affect us all.
Dr Claire Cockcroft
Head, External Relations
Tel: +44 (0)1223 496260
Fax: +44 (0)1223 496002
Mobile: +44 (0)7786 335978
Dr Michael Coleman, Group Leader
Tel: +44 (0)1223 496315
The Babraham Institute
Babraham Research Campus
Cambridge CB22 3AT
World scientists in Cambridge ageing summit
Business Weekly 14th August
Notes to editors:
The Babraham Institute, which receives strategic funding (£22.4M in 2010-11) from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), undertakes international quality life sciences research to generate new knowledge of biological mechanisms underpinning ageing, development and the maintenance of health. The Institute’s research provides greater understanding of the biological events that underlie the normal functions of cells and the implication of failure or abnormalities in these processes. Research focuses on signalling and genome regulation, particularly the interplay between the two and how epigenetic signals can influence important physiological adaptations during the lifespan of an organism. By determining how the body reacts to dietary and environmental stimuli and manages microbial and viral interactions, we aim to improve wellbeing and healthier ageing. (www.babraham.ac.uk)
BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond. Funded by the UK Government, and with an annual budget of around £445M, we support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
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