Science of Health series

“We will take advantage of our strategic proximity to top London scientific experts who conduct current groundbreaking research in health, in order to bring this knowledge to our U3A members.” – Helen Muller and Madeline Drake (series organisers)

Meetings will be held on the first Monday of each month at the Union Church and Community Centre at the junction of Ferme Park Rd and Weston Park, N8 9PX. Refreshments are not provided at the Science of Health meetings. There will be no meetings on Bank Holiday Mondays.

Our programme

4 June 2018

Dr John Ford : The global burden of disease : a study and a health profile for England

Dr Ford is Senior Honorary Lecturer, Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Essex.

2 July 2018

Dr David Zigmond : If you want good personal healthcare, see a vet

Why and how should we care for one another? What kinds of human suffering constitute illness? What does diagnosis mean? Can it be harmful? What is the role of our personal agency? What are the political aspects?

Dr Zigmond is a retired GP and pyschiatrist

Past talks

5 February 2018

Professor Paul Whiting : We need to talk about Alzheimer’s”. What do we know about the causes, and how are we doing in terms of developing new treatments?

An audience of about 100 members was present for this talk and engaged with the subject from the outset. Professor Whiting explained his qualifications and experience in research leading to his current role as Chief Scientific Officer leading a team funded by Alzheimer’s Research UK based at UCL researching treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Supported by a series of explanatory slides, he answered the many questions raised by AD. What is it? What does it do the brain? What do we know about its causes? What approaches had been made to find treatments? What efforts are currently been made to find a cure? Professor Whiting also provided an historical perspective, describing the discoveries of the German psychiatrist and neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer from 1901. It was interesting to hear that AD actually begins many years before any symptoms are obvious, that the risk of succumbing to AD increases with age (over 65 year olds now have a 10-30% risk of getting AD,those in their 90s have a 40% risk), that 3-9 years is the average life expectancy following diagnosis, and that that women are more likely to develop the disease. Professor Whiting also raised the question as to whether AD was infective. He was at pains to point out that there was no effective treatment for this progressive disease, and that all efforts find a drug (beyond those for palliative uses) had so far failed, and, because of the cost, pharmaceutical companies were increasingly reluctant to fund research. There was discussion about what one could do to minimize the risk of becoming a victim of AD, although there nothing one could about our genetic make-up. Professor Whiting explained although age is a major risk factor, one’s level of education, diet, blood pressure, chloresterol levels, exercise (both mental and physical), a good night’s sleep (suggested by a member of the audience) may have a role to play in fighting AD. Depression is also associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. What of the future? Research is focusing on disease modification to delay the onset of AD by up to 10 years. Recently a new protein has been identified which damages the synapses of the brain. Research is underway to study early onset AD, with volunteers (some of who are risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease – due to their age, genes and performance in memory tests, and other participants not thought to be at risk). This was a most illuminating presentation by Professor Whiting. A successful first event in the Science of Health series, very many thanks to the organisers Helen Muller and Madeline Drake.