07/2020: Oncology (A. Gerard)

Time: Thursday 16 July 2020 from 19:00 for 19:30

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this event will be delivered online. More details can be found here.

TITLE: The Immune System: From Basic Knowledge to Novel Anti-tumour Treatments

Our immune system is essential for our survival. It constantly battles pathogens, without us even realising it. To efficiently tackles all types of invaders we encounter, the immune system is composed of multiple cell types, which have to coordinate their actions to avoid spreading of the invading pathogen. During the first part of this talk, I will present the complex journey the different players of the immune system take to ascertain they keep our body healthy. In the second part of the talk, I will move on to situations where the immune system is not working appropriately, focusing on the immune response to cancer. Finally, I will present examples on how we can harness the immune system and train it to control cancer.

Speaker: Audrey Gerard

Audrey Gerard is a group leader at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, University of Oxford. Audrey has been trained as an immunologist in France, and worked in the Netherlands and the US before starting her group in the UK. Her group is interested in understanding how immune cells communicate and how these communication channels are co-opted during carcinogenesis to evade the immune system.

06/2020: Dosimetry (H. Schoenemann)

Time: Thursday 18 June 2020 from 19:00 for 19:30
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this event will be delivered online. More details can be found here.

TITLE: Personal Dosimetry: History and Latest Developments

Personal Dosimetry Services, as part of wider Public Health England, has been in existence in one form or another for around 50 years, but comprehensive legislation that governs working with radiation has not been around nearly as long. This talk discusses the history of nuclear regulation, the developments and improvements of different standards, and how this benefits employers and workers.

A briefing at the end will give a short update as to how Public Health England’s Personal Dosimetry Services department has been supporting the NHS and other key stakeholders during the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaker: Hugh Schönemann

Hugh Schoenemann has been working at Public Health England for the last three years. He heads up the customer services team of PHE’s Personal Dosimetry Services department, which currently supports over 5,000 client organisations across the UK and abroad. PDS is responsible for calibrating, despatching, receiving and reading over 500,000 personal dosemeters per annum across a range of industries – from the NHS, dental and veterinary, through academia and research, to general industry and its requirement for non-destructive testing. PDS also provides a Dose Record Keeping service for those workers (typically classified workers) working in elevated risk environments.

Hugh has had a 35+ year highly successful career in industry (predominantly in the IT and high-tech sectors), working both in the UK and abroad. He holds a degree in Mathematics from the University of Bath.

06/2020: Virtual DIAMOND Light Source Visit

We could not make an in-person visit to the DIAMOND Light Source as originally planned, but the facility has provided a virtual tour here.

Aditionally, why don’t you take a vitual tour of the ISIS facility, which is also in Harwell?


05/2020: Weather (J. Dorrington)

Time: Thursday 21 May 2020 from 19:00 for 19:30
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this event will be delivered as a livestream. More details can be found here.

TITLE: Supercomputers and Seagulls – The Story of Weather Prediction

The changing weather affects every aspect of our lives, even if we don’t always realise it. Far beyond prompting us to pick up our umbrella as we go out for the day, weather forecasts shape the actions of farmers, power plants, disaster relief organisations, and a dozen other important industries and sectors. But how do we actually make these predictions of hurricanes, heat-waves and hailstorms, and why is it still so difficult to peer far into the atmosphere’s future?

We’ll take a look at the long history of weather forecasting, a journey from witchcraft and hot-air balloons to satellites and supercomputers. On the way we’ll discover some remarkable truths about the boundaries of scientific prediction, and the important role of Chaos in the natural world.”


Josh Dorrington is a DPhil student in Atmospheric Physics at the University of Oxford. He works on improving the accuracy of weather forecasts, assessing the value these predictions hold for society, and understanding the complex physical processes that shape European extreme weather events.


04/2020: Bio Pharmaceutica (D. Fairbrass)

Place and Time:

Online, Thursday 16 April 2020, 19:00 for 19:30
A minimally edited version of the livestream can be watched on YouTube.

TITLE: From Pig Insulin to Gene Therapy: 100 Years of Biopharma

It’s almost 100 years since Canadian researchers administered the first dose of animal derived insulin to 14 year old Leonard Thompson in an attempt to treat his diabetes, and since then the production of medication using animals and isolated cell lines has not only become commonplace, but continues to provide ground-breaking and life saving treatments. Together we will explore how current biologics can treat a range of diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, breast cancer and Crohn’s disease, before turning our attention to emerging cell and gene therapies that offer the opportunity to cure Leukaemia, Parkinson’s Disease and many other lifelong conditions, with just a single dose.


After reading Biochemistry BSc at the University of Sheffield, Danielle Fairbrass went on to post-graduate study, gaining her doctorate in Sheffield where she was studying Monoclonal Antibody production in CHO cell lines and its impact on cell metabolism. Danielle went on to conduct post-doctoral research at the Universite de Rennes 1, before moving back to the UK where she took up her current position as a scientist in the Cell Engineering Group at leading cell and gene therapy company, Oxford Biomedica, engineering producer cell lines generating LentiViral vectors for gene therapy applications.