Ageing research and sociology
Wednesday evening and so south-east to Abington, there to talk to the Partridge Group, a congenial company of intelligent and maturing gentlemen who meet regularly in Abington Village Hall. I was there with a good friend of the Institute, Joanna Latimer, Professor of Sociology, Science & Technology at the University of York and our assignment was first to describe the history, development and current work of the Babraham Institute and Campus and then to talk about the process of aging, from both biomedical and sociological perspectives.
I did my best to provide a solid base (Sergio Busquets?), borrowing examples of the Institute's work on ageing from Michelle Linterman and Olivia Casanueva; Joanna deployed more elegant and provocative skills (Lionel Messi) to inspire thoughts on the changing societal and personal views of the subject. The assembled company could be said to have shared a vested interest in the matter of ageing (carefully excepting the youthful presence of our own Dr Tacita Nye), so the discussion was often heartfelt as well as vigorous and free-ranging.
Topics covered included questions on Babraham’s most significant contributions to biomedicine; on how the Institute decides on what research to fund; to what extent we rely on EU funding; the question of whether aging should be considered a disease; the distinction between extended longevity and healthy ageing; the possibility of common molecular and biochemical mechanisms underlying aspects of the ageing process; on the social dimension in maintaining health in older age; on links between the immune system and mental states. Joanna declared that her own mind had got steadily better through her life and saw no reason why that shouldn’t apply to all of us. And so we all travelled home in good humour.