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Café Scientifique

Café Scientifique Manchester

Cafe Scientifique is a place where, for the price of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, anyone can come to explore the latest ideas in science and technology. Meetings take place in cafes, bars, restaurants and even theatres, but always outside a traditional academic context.

Cafe Scientifique is a forum for debating science issues, not a shop window for science. We are committed to promoting public engagement with science and to making science accountable.

When: 7.30pm on the last Thursday of every month

Where: The MadLab, 36-40 Edge Street, M4 1HN 

Date 26 January 2017
Title Cafe Scientifique - The UK Beagle 2 Lander for Mars
Speaker Dr Dean Harris

*Please note the change of time and venue for our January event*

Date: 26 January 2017

Time: 18:00-20:00

Place: Zochonis Building, Brunswick Street, M13 9GB

Speaker: Dr Dean Harris

Key Words: Beagle 2, Mars, Space

In the early 21st century, a group of British adventurers, scientists, engineers and explorers launched a mission to Mars. The mission was called Beagle 2 and was led by the late Professor Colin Pillinger.  The mission attempted to answer one of the most profound questions asked by humanity (and David Bowie): Is there life on Mars? This talk presents the extraordinary and entertaining story of Beagle 2, presented by a mission insider. We will open with sci-fi Dreams of a Red planet that inspired Colin as a boy. 

Beagle was expected to land in 2003, but fell silent. 

Every Christmas since then, I've wondered what happened to the plucky little lander. We had given up all hope and assumed it had crashed into the surface or burnt up in the atmosphere. A core of enthusiasts continued the hunt for Beagle 2 and, 11 years later, it was found. Beagle 2 had not crash landed and recent analysis suggests that it may still be operating today. Sound crazy? The NASA rover that landed in the same year is still trundling around the surface. 

We will tell the amazing story of how the UK became the third nation in history to land on Mars with the help of a group of Christmas-jumper-wearing-boffins, led by a mutton-chop wearing farmer, who designed a probe on the back of a beer mat and knocked it up in a shed. 

Finally, we will look into the future history of Mars and ask the question - Will we be the Martians?

The Speaker

Dr Dean Harris is a state registered Clinical Scientist specialising in Medical Physics with experience working in the NHS. I was previously involved with large-scale multi-million pound space projects.

This involved performing research at the highest levels and published in high-impact journals (including Nature). He has developed of X-ray instrumentation for wide variety of applications (planetary science, medical physics, industrial). He has adapted technologies originally designed from other sectors (eg, space) for use in medical sciences. He has also ran experimental campaigns at national facilities including the Diamond Synchrotron in Harwell.

Date 23 February 2017
Title Cafe Scientifique - Pain, The Brain and a little bit of Magic
Speaker Professor Anthony Jones

Date: 23 February 2017

Time: 19:30-21:30

Place: MadLab, Manchester, M4 1HN

Speaker: Professor Anthony Jones

Topic: Pain, Brain, Magic

Pain, the Brain and a Little Bit of Magic' is an empowering performance talk which takes a look inside the brain, exploring how we feel pain, how pain is signalled in the body and how we develop chronic conditions. Based on pioneering research, ‘Pain, the Brain and a Little Bit of Magic’ offers an optimistic message of how chronic pain may be better understood and treated.

‘Pain, the Brain and a Little bit of Magic’ is a performance for chronic pain sufferers and the people who support them, medical professionals and absolutely anybody who wants to know more about what makes the brain tick.

Here is a little trailer:


The speaker

Anthony Jones is professor of Neuro-rheumatology at Manchester University and leads the Human Pain Research Group. Whilst at the Hammersmith Hospital he pioneered the development of techniques to image neurochemical and metabolic brain responses to pain using Positron Emission Tomography. Over the last twenty years he has used a number of functional brain imaging techniques to understand that the normal and abnormal mechanisms of pain perception. There is now the exciting prospect of using some of the insights gained in these studies to develop new approaches to pharmacological and cognitive interventions for chronic pain. He also leads the International Association of Pain Musculoskletal Pain Taskforce and is leading the development of National and International Guidelines on the Integrated Management of Musculoskeletal Pain (jointly sponsored by the BSR and the IASP).‌

Date 30 March 2017
Title Cafe Scientifique - Genetic diseases and gene therapy (TBC)
Speaker Professor Graeme Black

Date: 30 March 2017

Time: 19:30-21:30

Place: MadLab, Manchester, M4 1HN

Speaker: Professor Graeme Black

Key Words: Genetic diseases, Gene therapy

The detail of this talk will be announced shortly.

The speaker

Graeme is Professor of Genetics and Ophthalmology at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. During training he undertook at DPhil with Professor Ian Craig in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Oxford, studying the genetics of X-linked inherited ophthalmic disease. It was this period that enabled him to develop his combined subspecialty interests.

Having moved to Manchester in 1995 Graeme became a Wellcome Trust Clinician Scientist Fellow in 1997 and a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in 2002. This enabled him to focus on functional analyses of recently identified genes, defining their role in normal development as well as in the disorders studied. Graeme was the director of the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), a specialist centre in Genetics and Developmental Medicine, from 2009-2012. Graeme lead the BRC to develop an impressive track record of translating scientific breakthroughs into clinical practice.2012-14 Graeme was the inaugural director of the Institute of Human Development, within the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences at The University of Manchester helping to bring together research in the areas of genetic medicine, specialist senses, diabetes & endocrinology, maternal and fetal health and paediatrics.

Graeme’s major research interest is the investigation of genetic disorders associated with visual disability. His overaching aims are to improve the diagnosis, management and treatment of such conditions. This work initially focused on the characterisation of genes and proteins underlying inherited developmental disorders such as anophthalmia, cataract and retinal degenerative disorders. However most recently Graeme has overseen a scientific team that provides genetic testing for inherited opthalmic disease. This includes retinoblastoma, the commonest ocular malignancy of childhood. Furthermore, through funding provided by the Department of Health and the British Retinitis Pigmentosa Society his team has developed a national genetic testing service for inherited retinal diseases. These include several forms of retinitis pigmentosa, cone-rod dystrophy as well as a number of macular dystrophies.

Date 27 April 2017
Title Cafe Scientifique - Chemical Engineering and nano-technology (TBC)
Speaker Dr Stuart Holmes

Date: 27 April 2017

Time: 19:30-21:30

Place: MadLab, Manchester, M4 1HN

Speaker: Dr Stuart Holmes

Key Words: Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Technology

The detail of this talk will be announced shortly.

The speaker

Stuart Holmes is a Reader in the School of Chemical Engineering at The University of Manchester. He is a Chemist by first degree and did his PhD with Prof. John Dwyer, one of the founding fathers of zeolite chemistry. He was manager of the UMIST Centre for Microporous Materials prior to joining the department in 2000. Stuart is a member of the Environmental Technology Centre and teaches on the undergraduate Environmental Technology courses along with MSc Environmental Technology and the part-time MSc Environmental Management and Technology courses.

Date 25 May 2017
Title Cafe Scientifique - Water ecosystem and urban regeneration in Manchester and Salford Quays (TBC)
Speaker Dr Keith White

Date: 25 May 2017

Time: 19:30-21:30

Place: MadLab, Manchester, M4 1HN

Speaker: Dr Keith White

Key Words: Wather ecosystem, Urban regeneration, Salford Quays

The detail of this talk will be announced shortly.

The speaker

Dr Keith White is interested in understanding and managing the water quality and ecology of urban watercourses, including preventing the formation of potentially harmful ‘blooms’ of blue-green algae. Work with an industrial partner is examining the relationship between past and present water quality and the changes in the ecology of Salford Quays – a restored and redeveloped dock system near Media City, Greater Manchester. The work includes the development of a computer-based model to assist in the ecological management of the Quays. Other studies with a colleague in Geography are looking at how we can improve water quality of urban rivers and canals to assist in the economic regeneration of inner cities. He is also interested in the toxicity of metal pollutants to aquatic animals and plants and how such these toxins are accumulated and transferred through the food chain. This includes examining the impact of nanoparticles, in particular nanosilver. Nanosiliver is used as an antibacterial agent in consumer products such as socks and therefore enters waterways via the sewerage system. They have recently shown that nanosilver is accumulated by gazing and filter feeding animals and is passed along the food chain from algae to zooplankton such as the water flea.

Date 29 June 2017
Title Cafe Scientifique - Ocular biomaterials (TBC)
Speaker Dr Victoria Kearns

Date: 29 June 2017

Time: 19:30-21:30

Place: MadLab, Manchester, M4 1HN

Speaker: Dr Victoria Kearns

Key Words: Ocular biomaterials, Drug delivery, Cell therapy

The detail of this talk will be announced shortly.

The speaker

Dr Victoria Kearns is a Lecturer in Ocular Biomaterials at The University of Liverpool. She is interested in developing novel, biomaterial-based ocular drug delivery systems and models (in vitro and in silico) to test them. This work involved biomaterials, chemistry, engineering, imaging and computer modelling, supported by input from clinical and industrial collaborators.

She has expertise in the modification and characterisation of biomaterial substrates. Of particular interest is the optimisation of surfaces to be used to grow cells for engineering tissue. This involves using a range of techniques. She also has expertise in the isolation and expansion of primary ocular cells.

Date 27 July 2017
Title Cafe Scientifique - The role of hormones in health and disease (TBC)
Speaker Professor Kay Marshall

Date: 27 July 2017

Time: 19:30-21:30

Place: MadLab, Manchester, M4 1HN

Speaker: Professor Kay Marshall

Key Words: Hormones, Reproductive health, Therapy

The detail of this talk will be announced shortly.


The speaker

Kay Marshall is the Head of the School of Health Sciences at The University of Manchester. She is a registered pharmacist and Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Higher Education Academy. She also has an MBA. After completing her pre-registration training in industry and community pharmacy she returned to academia to study the effects of oestrogen on the uterus. She then became a teacher practitioner before taking up a full-time academic post. Since this time Professor Marshall has been a placements tutor and initiated and led several courses, including the MPharm. She was Head of the Bradford School of Pharmacy before coming to Manchester. She is an enthusiastic teacher and a keen proponent of new teaching methods that support the student learning experience.

Professor Marshall has two main strands to her bench research both focus on the role of hormones, systemic and local, in health and disease. Below the waistline, her work centres upon investigation of the role of local hormones in diseases and conditions associated with the female reproductive tract such as dysmenorrhoea, endometriosis and the detection and prevention of preterm labour. In addition to looking for new and effective therapies to manage these conditions, she is also involved with research into developing novel local drug delivery devices that will enable the safer use of medicines.

Above the neck, Professor Marshall is interested in the effect that the sex steroids have on cognition, for example, during pregnancy or when an individual is suffering from a mental illness such as schizophrenia.

In the pharmacy practice context, she is also involved in projects looking at medicines reconciliation, adherence and medicines management in chronic diseases in the UK and overseas.

Professor Marshall is the Deputy Chair of the Pharmacy Schools Council and is a keen supporter of the modernising pharmacy careers programme being led by Health Education England.

Organisers: Bo YaoDeborah Talmi, Ayse Latif

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