07/2018: Heart Plumbing (G. Douglas)

Place and Time: Abingdon, Thursday 19 July 2018 from 19:00 for 19:30

New Location: King Charles Room, King’s Head and Bell, (10 E St Helen St, Abingdon OX14 5EA)

TITLE: Plumbing problems – A heart story

In 1961 more than half of all deaths in the UK were due to diseases that affect the heart and circulation (cardiovascular disease). Improvement in the treatment of cardiovascular disease, such as lipid lowering therapies and new surgical interventions, have reduced this number by over three quarters. However, cardiovascular disease still accounts for more than a quarter of all deaths in the UK hence there is a pressing need to identify new treatments. Large population based studies comparing the DNA from healthy individuals with those who have cardiovascular disease have enabled us to identify new genes that have a role in this disease for the first time.  We are interested in new genes which have no known function as these genes have the potential to identify new ways to prevent or treat coronary artery disease. In my talk, I will walk you through the process we have used at the University of Oxford to identify candidate genes for cardiovascular disease from large genetic population studies and how we validated these findings using cell and animal models.

Speaker: Gillian Douglas

Gillian Douglas is a University Research Lecturer at the University of Oxford in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine; she is also a Lecturer in Physiology and Pharmacology at Jesus College, Oxford. Coming from Glasgow, which has one of the highest incidences of cardiovascular disease in the country, Gillian has always had an interest in the mechanism behind this condition. She is currently working on understanding how two genes of previous unknown function affect the development of atherosclerosis (ie when arteries become clogged with fatty substances called plaque or atheroma).

 

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06/2018: Dyslexia (J. Stein)

Place and Time: Abingdon, Thursday 21 June 2018 from 19:00 for 19:30

New Location: King Charles Room, King’s Head and Bell, (10 E St Helen St, Abingdon OX14 5EA)

TITLE: Wobbles, warbles and fish – the ‘magnocellular’ theory of developmental dyslexia

Learning to read is more difficult than learning to speak because it requires very rapid visual analysis of letters and their order, together with rapidly translating them into the phonemes of which word sounds are composed, and this background ‘phonological’ skill also has to be learnt.  The difficulties that developmental dyslexics have with acquiring these skills may be caused by abnormal development of large, ‘magnocellular’, nerve cells in the brain; these mediate the deployment of visual, auditory and motor attention which underlies the visual, eye movement and auditory sequencing skills required for reading.  The magnocellular hypothesis suggests that the many different visual/orthographic, auditory/phonological, articulatory/motor features of dyslexia may be due to impaired development of these magnocellular neurones throughout the brain. The talk will be about the mounting evidence in favour of this hypothesis together with how recent genetic, molecular and nutritional findings shed light on why these brain anomalies occur and how they can be alleviated.

Speaker: John Stein

John is Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience, Dept. Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics and Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford.  After medical studies at New College, Oxford, he trained as a clinical neurologist.   From 1970 – 2008 he was Fellow and Tutor in Medicine and Physiological Sciences at Magdalen.  In theory ‘retired’ he still teaches neuroscience to medical and psychology students and his research still focuses on the role of vision and nutrition in the control of movement and behaviour in neurological patients, dyslexics and young offenders.  John doesn’t cook fish; his brother TV fish chef, Rick Stein, doesn’t do neuroscience!

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