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Research Festival: Health

Planetary Health and Human Health and Wellbeing across the life course: Programme of events 

Official Launch of the Brunel Research Festival 

Brunel’s Vice Provost for Research, Professor Geoff Rodgersoffers a warm welcome to Brunel University London’s very first Research Festival!  

Hear about the packed programme of events we have on offer, with a special introduction to the week’s Health related events from Professor Christina Victor (Director of the Institute of Medicine, Health & Environment)

Global Perspectives on Research on Health and Wellbeing Across the Lifecourse

The Centre for Health and Wellbeing Across the Lifecourse (CHWL) are delighted to welcome Dr Ritu Sadana – Head of the Ageing and Health Unit at World Health Organization (WHO) -- to discuss: Global Perspectives on Research on Health and Wellbeing Across the Lifecourse.  

The combination of greater longevity and good health can allow endless variations on the traditional categories of the life course and enable new ways to pursue what WHO has called Healthy Ageing. This talk will highlight thinking around what evidence and commitments are needed to expand opportunities across the life course, to enable people to have greater choice to be and do what they value. Findings from WHO’s recently released baseline report for the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing, sets the stage.  

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Doctoral Research Spotlight 

This spotlight on our Doctoral Research is the first of many, celebrating a vibrant and stimulating research community at Brunel. An opportunity to hear from some of our Doctoral Researchers about their exciting “Health” related research activities.

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Plastics in Society: Interdisciplinary approaches to the plastics crisis

Plastic waste is an urgent and pressing issue which remains at the top of global policy agendas. David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 highlighted the blight of plastic litter in our oceans. The impacts of plastic pollution on land and microplastics and nano plastics in the air are still being identified, and there are concerns about how the ubiquity of plastics in our daily lives may present risks to human health. At the same time, plastics can reduce food waste which contributes to food security and single-use protective equipment has proved vital during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we transition out of lockdown restrictions it is crucial that we identify the trade-offs between deleterious impacts and benefits.

At Brunel University London we are leading international research initiatives on plastics and plastic pollution and engaging with industry, policy-makers and consumers/citizens in the UK, EU and overseas. In the first of our three public events organised by the Sustainable Plastics Research group at Brunel (SPlasH) we will share some of our research highlights including the role of media in the plastics crisis; the sustainability of circular economy solutions and the global challenge of plastic waste in Indonesia. This is an opportunity to hear more about our ongoing work and to learn about the interdisciplinary challenges of plastics pollution. 

A Whirlwind Tour of Cognitive Neuroscience at Brunel 

An exciting mix of scientific, lay-friendly and fun, brief talks, and interactive demonstrations by Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience (CCN) scientists covering different wonders of the human brain in healthy and disordered populations.  The topics covered will range from basic cognitive to clinical neuroscience (e.g., Mind Your Brain, Fooling the Brain, The Psychopathic Brain, Multitasking, Safe Cycling and more!).  

Institute of Medicine, Health & Environment (IMHE) Relaunch 

Professor Christina Victor, Institute Director, IMHE 
 
The relaunch of the Health, Medicine and Environments (IHME) will show case our interdisciplinary research focused upon (a) how different types of environments are linked with health and wellbeing outcomes and (b) the development, evaluation and implementation of new models of care to enhance health and wellbeing.  

IHME emphasises three key values in research development which are also highlighted: working with key stakeholders especially public engagement, developing a research agenda and research capacity that emphasises diversity and developing partnerships with business and enterprise to accelerate the impact and societal benefit of our research.  

Professor Christina Victor is joined in conversation by Dr Marco Davare, Reader in Physiotherapy, for a #BrunelCuppaSciencediscussion about the role of the Institute in facilitating research and public impact in the current context, highlighting the increasing global awareness of intricate links between health and the environment. Important findings will be debated, and Professor Victor will offer advice for early career researchers in the field of Health Sciences.  

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Diversity in Research

Chaired by Professor Christina Victor, this event will showcase Brunel research with diverse communities, focusing on inequalities as seen from professional and patient/service user perspectives. 

Eleanor van den Heuvel will be sharing insights from a study on dementia among South Asian and African Caribbean communities in the UK, highlighting that ageing with memory problems for these communities is complicated by the experience of racism. 

Dr Mike Thomas will be exploring inequalities in the context of LGBQ+ service users’ expectations about social care in later life, where there are also fears about whether services will be inclusive. 

Dr Yohai Hakak and MA student Zamzam Abdow will be reflecting on a series of eight staff-student research studies on the challenges social workers who have migrated to the UK  face in adjusting to English society and social policy.  The paper concludes with reflections on diversity in the social work profession and approaches to acculturation of migrating social workers. 

The panel will conclude with a discussion of emerging research questions around inequalities in health and social care, and how we can build a more diverse workforce in research and education to tackle these injustices. 

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Meet the Brunel Older people's Reference Group

Brunel Older people's Reference Group (BORG) have been an important resource for Brunel's ageing research for more than a decade. Join Eleanor van den Heuvel, Health Sciences Research Fellow II, CHMLS for this session and meet some group members, ask questions and get a better understanding of the importance of public involvement in research.  

A Masterclass on Health Research Partnerships – What Works Well?

Join Dr Michael Joseph, Business Development Manager, Healthcare and MedTech, from Brunel’s Research Support and Development Office (RSDO) and a variety of specialists for a special masterclass to learn the essential factors that lead to successful health research partnerships with healthcare providers, business organisations and university for health research and innovation.    

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Open Lecture, Gerontological Imagination in Uncertain Terrain 

Professor Holly Nelson-Becker presents their inaugural Open Lecture as Professor of Social Work and Gerontology at Brunel, on Applying a gerontological imagination in uncertain terrain: Trips and traps in exploring spirituality/meaning systems, ethics, and end of life. 
 
The insights from ageing have been undervalued and underacknowledged, yet they can offer detailed maps of the territory we all hope to inhabit. They are snapshots of time that collect in infinitely irreducible stacks of expanding knowledge.   

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Centre for Inflammation Research and Translational Medicine 

A series of lively talks showcasing the latest research and developments in fundamental, applied, and translational inflammation biology.    

Hear from our experts in pharmacology, physiology, immunology, cancer biology, microbiology, genetics, and toxicology to discuss the scientific vision of the CIRTM and the efforts to tackle global health challenges that affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide, including cardiovascular diseases, cancer, antibiotic resistance, infections, and mental health disorders.   

An opportunity to engage directly with our panel of experts during guided talks and also discuss new collaborations and opportunities for inter-disciplinary research focused on some of the world's most pressing issues.  

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Exploring research and innovation partnership opportunities with the NHS 

Join James Ross (Director) and Dr Cherry Kilbride (Director of Research) of the Brunel Partners Academic Centre for Health Sciences (BPACHS) in an interactive discussion exploring research and innovation partnership opportunities with the NHS.   

Brunel has several existing successful partnerships with a variety of NHS Organisations. The NHS as a significant industrial sector encompasses much more than Health Care delivery. Computing, Engineering, Social Science and Business sectors to name but a few are all part of the overall NHS ecosystem. This session will explore research and innovation opportunities afforded by the BPACHS partnerships and discuss ways to engage with the health care sector from your perspective.  

Welcome to Health Research at the Centre for Culture and Evolution 

In general, research at the Centre for Culture and Evolution (CCE) focuses on revealing how our evolved human nature generates such a diverse array of cultural practices and behaviours observed around the world. In this session, the centre showcases a research in the areas of Health, including:   

  • Professor David Schmidt (Centre Director) - “Cultural and evolutionary perspectives on medical overuse” 
  • Dr Micheal de Barra - “Cultural and evolutionary perspectives on medical overuse” 
  • Dr Lora Adair - “Adaptive choice: Scholarship at the intersection of feminism and evolution” 
  • Dr Nicholas Pound - “Facial asymmetry and childhood health”  

Centre for Genome Engineering and Maintenance 

Welcome to CenGEM: A New Era for Cell and Genome Biology at Brunel, cultivated in the Centre for Genome Engineering and Maintenance (CenGEM).  

Join us as CenGEM showcase a diverse research network focused on molecular, cellular, organismal and computational aspects of genome biology. Featuring presentations from centre members, spanning multiple disciplines, from cell and molecular biology to engineering and data science; with interests ranging from fundamental biological principles to translational research, including of cancer, chronic and rare diseases, across the life-span.  

Open Lecture, Jekyll and Hyde: The Monstrous Side of Inflammation 

Inflammation is one way your body fights infection, injury, and disease. However, what happens when things go wrong?  

In this talk, Professor Felicity Gavins, a pharmacologist who has been at the forefront of inflammation research for nearly twenty years, will discuss the exciting and fascinating complexities of our immune system and current research in this area. She will discuss the ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ sides of our immune system and inflammation and how, although inflammation is a good thing, playing a central role in healing, it too can have a more sinister side, becoming dysregulated and potentially leading to diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease). This uncontrolled Inflammation has also been linked to disease severity and complications in COVID-19.   

Understanding inflammation and helping the body regulate it are the central objectives of Professor Gavins’ research team and as a result she hopes to be able to provide better drugs to combat inflammatory diseases and increase healthy ageing in society.   

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Centre for Human Performance, Exercise and Rehabilitation

Knowledge and understanding of the basic mechanisms underpinning body function under resting and exercise conditions are essential to developing novel interventions for improving human performance, health and rehabilitation. Speakers in this symposium will present and discuss examples of how this objective is realised at the Centre for Human Performance, Exercise and Rehabilitation (CHPER) in the cardiovascular, respiratory, neuromuscular and musculoskeletal research areas. 
 

The Latin America & Caribbean Research Seminar Series 

Join us for the final seminar in the series exploring the innovative work being undertaken by our researchers that is stimulating policymaking through addressing complex development challenges facing the two regions.  

Chaired by Dr Ximena Schmidt, Global Challenges Research Fellow   

  • Dr Matteo Pazzona – MACEDA: A new events data set on the self-determination conflict between the Mapuche indigenous group and the Chilean state (1990-2016)

  • Dr Shona Patterson – The Thin Line Between Threat and Opportunity: The Case of Sargassum in the Caribbean

  • Dr Nour Ali – Autonomic Software and Diagnosis: A Case Study in Mexican Healthcare

  • Dr Ximena Schmidt – The Impact of Ultra-processed Food on Carbon, Water, and Ecological Footprints in Brazilian Metropolitan Areas

TestAVec: a Brunel spin-out supporting confidence in gene therapy

Gene therapy is a powerful technology to support the correction of genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis or blindnessHowever, there is currently no human-based safety assessment for gene therapy. Professor Susan Jobling and Dr Mike Themis will discuss how Brunel won a European challenge to bring safety evaluation and vector testing to the gene therapy community, which resulted in the foundation of TestAVec Ltd – a Brunel spin-out.  

Pluto: opening up the high street to safe working 

COVID-19 has changed the landscape of work and retailDr Mike Themis (Reader in Health and Safety) will introduce Saqlain Suleman (Doctoral Researcher), to discuss the changing high street, the closure of retail, and the development of new mobile workspace that allows safe working in a sterile environment free from possible contamination between users. Hear about how Brunel, in collaboration with Space Republic, won an Innovate UK award to develop “Pluto” – a pathogen-free working pod.