Category - Changing bodies

Face to Face with the New Optimists: Roslyn Bill talks about healthy ageing

It’s been a busy week for Dr Roslyn Bill. Head of the Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing, at Aston University, Ros spoke to us earlier this week to tell us all about what’s happening at ARCHA, including the showcase event they held last week.

Not only that but she’s also joined the ranks of Birmingham Post bloggers, writing a blog about the research centre. You can read more from Ros and the other New Optimists here.

Experts & the public head to Aston University to take on ageing

Experts from around the UK are at Aston University today to exchange ideas as part of a one-day conference tackling ageing. The conference is organised by Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing (ARCHA), which is led by New Optimist Dr Roslyn Bill.

She says: “This showcase is about exchanging ideas, as well as looking for practical solutions to a major challenge for all of us. We hope those who attend will go away having been inspired after hearing about the huge amount of cutting edge research carried out here at Aston University.

At ARCHA, we’ve always said that we want our research to have real impact on the lives of older adults. We are keen for the public to come along to see what we are doing, and also so we can find out what matters to them. If we don’t know what affects their lives we can’t help them as well. We are looking for volunteers, and there will be opportunities to take part in our many research studies.”

As well as Roslyn, other New Optimists involved in leading this event include Helen Griffiths, Julia King, Peter Lambert, James Wolffsohn, Brian Tighe and Robert Berry.

You can read more about the event here. Look out for our interview with Roslyn Bill very soon.

Growing old (dis)gracefully

What should be the title of our new e-book, a Kindle in the first instance, on healthy ageing? Rather to the chagrin of my family, I’m doing what I can to grow old disgracefully . . . but do such words work as the title of a book on healthy ageing? Or should it be something along the lines of this photo of a bizarre poster I found in a shop window? Ideas please!

The book will be in our usual format of scientists writing what they’re optimistic about.
Ten to twelve scientists will be contributing. Some are existing New Optimists. Roslyn Bill who’s Director of Director of the Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing, for example, UoB’s Janet Lord

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Round-up: Face to Face with the New Optimists

Here’s a quick recap of the interviews we’ve posted so far in our Face to Face series. We’ve got more of those coming soon, and if you click here you can leave your questions which you’d like us to ask the New Optimists.

Jack Cohen talks about reproductive biology:

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What’s coming up for the New Optimists

There are lots of exciting things coming up for the New Optimists in the next few months. As well as more Face to Face interviews with some of the scientists who have contributed to the project, there are some other big things which we’re very excited about.

  • There will be some activity over the coming months to tie in with the first Kindle book, Challenging Cancer. We’re also going to be working on forthcoming Kindle books, which will cover topics such as renewable energies, ageing, and how scientists view the world.
  • The New Optimists Forum is something we’re really looking forward to – a series of unconference-style gatherings where we bring together scientists to talk about viable approaches to deal with challenges which we will face in our near future. The first Forum theme is the prevalent topic of Food & Cities.
  • There’s also a book in the pipeline about stem cell research, covering epigenetics and how our environments reprogramme the human genome.
On top of this, there will be plenty more stuff to come so keep your eyes peeled on the blog as well as on Twitter and Facebook!

David Sansom: How our immune system doesn’t kill us

Yesterday in the Birmingham Post Science Blog I wrote about some work by Brum academic Dr David Sansom. His work has big implications in the treatment of some very debilitating and potentially dangerous diseases.

Reported in the prestigious Science journal on 29th April, this research is about the mechanisms by which a particular protein, CTLA-4, damps down our immune system by ‘hoovering’ up aggressive T-cells which are at the forefront of fighting invasions.

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Bionic eyes are one thing, but bionic brains?

Look again at the image of the hippocampus in my last blogpost. Not just its strange beauty, but its intricacy too.

Bionic eyes are one thing, but bionic brains? Our brains are, after all, the substructure of our minds.

New Optimist Adrain Williams is a consultant neurologist. In April this year, he and his colleagues hit the BBC news with news about a combination treatment of brain implant and drug regime for Parkinson’s patients.

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Bionic eyes

The news is full today of Miikka Terho detecting objects, including letters and a clockface, despite his blindness. Opthalmologist Professor Eberhart Zrenner and his team at the University of Tuebingen in Germany have implanted an electronic chip under his macula, part of his non-functioning retina. This chip sends messages to the visual cortex in his brain.

Revolutionary stuff. (The groundbreaking paper about this is here in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.)

New Optimist Professor James Wolffsohn is an optometrist, so researches what goes on at the front of our eyes, the lens and the muscles. He, too, talks of bionic eyes

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Harvard research – it’s a brain of two halves?

Research conducted at Harvard has concluded that the pattern of inherited characteristics – known as imprinting – may account for some of the perceived differences between male and female brains.

This follows on from Gina Rippon‘s recent article where she suggests there are more similarities than differences

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Meet the New Optimists – James Wolffsohn discusses restoring eye focus

Here’s our latest clip, which finds James Wolffsohn, one of the UK’s youngest Professors contemplates how research on restoring eye focus will benefit people, and why he wanted to be part of the project.

James also featured in the optometry blog ‘In the Hot Seat’ interview last year.

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