World-leading scientists in ageing research from countries including the US, Europe and Israel converge on Cambridge UK in September for a vital summit on the subject and to discuss technology and lifestyle changes that can extend healthy living.Around 200 delegates will debate new findings on the issue at The Babraham Institute’s international ‘Ageing Research’ conference on September 20-21.
A Question Time-style discussion on the topic of ageing will take place at The Guildhall in Cambridge on the afternoon of Saturday, September 22.
There will also be opportunities at the associated events for delegates and members of the public to chat informally with researchers about the scientific and clinical challenges as well as the socio-economic issues presented by 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.”
Both the conference and the Institute are supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council together with additional funding from charities focused on age-related disease and the commercial sector.
The ensuing public event at the Guildhall will report some of the highlights of the conference and provide opportunities for discussion with UK and international scientist, and representatives from Alzheimer's Research UK, clinical and commercial science and health economists.
Dr Claire Cockcroft, who leads the public engagement events at the Babraham Institute said: “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.”
Besides its role as one of the world’s most celebrated centres of scientific research, The Babraham Institute takes great pride in its public engagement strategy.
Its researchers earned plaudits at a science exhibition at the Royal Society in London this summer as they explained how our genes can be influenced by our environment and lifestyle – a research field known as epigenetics.
Alongside activities like these and 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 sixth form, which is hoped will inspire the next generation of researchers.
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: (left to right) Dr Peter Rugg-Gunn (Group Leader at Babraham), Dr Nessa Carey (Pfizer and author of The Epigenetics Revolution) and Mario Iurlaro (student at Babraham).