Author: Toby Athersuch

Surgery and Cancer Represent at the All-Party Parliamentary Design and Innovation Group

Marta Ajmar (VARI Deputy Director) highlights work within the Design Clusters of the collaborative Encounters on the Shop Floor project.

On 9th July 2018, members of Surgery and Cancer were among those invited to attend the Make and Create Panel Discussion, jointly organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Design and Innovation Group (APDIG), and the V&A Research Institute (VARI), held at Portcullis House, Westminster, London.

The event was opened by Barry Sheerman MP who welcomed participants from across design, arts, science, education and policy, and set the scene for the discussion. The main focus was on how to promote the broad themes of design and making, and how best to support the creative economy. Chaired by the new V&A Director Tristram Hunt, the panel discussed various attempts to promote design education, and the challenges of engaging inside and outside a taught curriculum.

The event provided an excellent forum for interdisciplinary networking for those with an interest in understanding design, making, and embodied knowledge. These are themes central to ongoing collaborative projects between VARI and Imperial, that have facilitated the formation of exploratory, innovative Design Clusters. One of these collaborations between Toby Athersuch (Lecturer, S&C Imperial), Rachel Warr (Freelance Puppeteer and Dramaturg), and Will Houstoun (Freelance Magician) – is aimed at developing a workshops that encourage participants to consider the contribution embodied knowledge (thinking with your hands) plays across multiple disciplines through a sequential process of instruction, demonstration, practice and play. As part of the APDIG Panel Discussion, Marta Ajmar (VARI Deputy Director) highlighted this work and other Design Clusters, alongside plans to further develop these interdisciplinary activities (pictured).

Concluding the session, Barry Sheerman MP indicated that the next steps for APDIG would likely include a request for a Parliamentary Group Inquiry into design, innovation, and making that would provide much-needed basis for informed future action.

Panel members included: Tristram Hunt (Director, V&A), Helen Charman (Head of Learning, V&A), Rebecca Goozee (VARI Education Resident); Brandon Matoorah (former Bridge Academy student), and Mark Miodownik (Driector, Institute of Making, UCL).

CSM showcase their work at the Imperial Festival

Toby Athersuch in front of the “Wall of Fame” at the Imperial Festival.

At this year’s Imperial Festival, researchers in Computational and Systems Medicine (CSM) provided a number of activities for the public to get involved with some practical laboratory science.

Colourful separations soon to join the “Wall of Fame”.

Children and adults alike were invited to try their hand at some separations and investigate the composition of complex mixtures. In this instance, participants separated dyes using paper chromatography – employing the same underlying principles as we do for our routine bioanalysis – and could add their colourful creations to the ‘Wall of Fame”, creating a lovely collage over the Festival weekend.

Prof Naomi Chayen shares her work on the power of crystals.

“Crystals are Everyone’s Friends” continued to fascinate the visitors as evidenced by the large turnout at the stand (the fourth successive year we have run this activity at the Imperial Festival).

Our demonstrations of building proteins using sweets as amino acids was a big draw, so much so that the materials which usually last for both the days of the festival had to be replenished for Day 2 of the workshop. The follow-up from protein making to growing of protein crystals in real-time and then observing them under the microscope was equally enjoyed by all the visitors.

Kids crafting microbes from playdough in the Family Zone.

Over in the Family Zone, CSM contributed to the stand of “Love Your Bugs”, where festival-goers helped craft many different microbes with play dough – kids loved it! We also shared our knowledge on the microbiota through two games: microbes in and on our body and how they transmitted around our houses.


Thanks to everyone in CSM who helped deliver some excellent activities, and to all those who got stuck in! Roll on next year!

4th New Perspectives in Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics

Pictured: Pete Bradshaw, final year PhD student studying aromatic amide hydrolysis, presenting his work.

This jointly organised meeting of the RSC BMCS, DMDG and Drug Metabolism Group, was held at Royal Society of Chemistry in Burlington House on 21-22 May 2018.

Over the two-day event, participants heard about recent research in drug discovery and development, spanning a wide range of topics; main sessions covered the broad areas of reactive metabolites and adverse reactions, chemical aspects of large molecules development, and medicinal chemistry approaches to improved metabolism, as well as a ‘hot topics’ session.

A keynote address by Douglas Spracklin (Pfizer, USA) set the scene for the meeting, providing an overview of the strategies and methods that have been developed for efficient, biocatalytic lead diversification.
Given the location of the meeting, a fitting central theme of the meeting was the need to understand the fundamental chemical principles underlying the observed biology, whether that be related to compound properties, kinetics, quantitation, or identification.

In addition to the platform presentations, participants had meeting-long access to the scientific posters and exhibitor stands, which continued this narrative and demonstrated the diversity and high level of activity in the DMPK arena.

Toby Athersuch
Drug Metabolism Group (DMG) Chairman

The 5th New Perspectives in DMPK conference will take place in early 2020. Details will be made available via the RSC BMCS, DMDG and DMG websites in mid 2019.