A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend a talk by Jeremy Farrar, the Director of the Wellcome Trust. For those that haven’t heard of the Wellcome Trust, it is a global charity who’s work aims to improve global health (link to their website here). In terms of scientific research, funding from the charity makes a massive contribution to the development and continuation of laboratory work. The talk was given as part of Leicester University’s Frank May Clinical Sciences Lectures, where the prizes are awarded based on evidence of research excellence and promise for the future. As you can imagine, it is an excellent opportunity for undergraduates like myself to attend such talks and something that more students should take advantage of. For me, to listen to how someone got to the current position in their career is of great interest, as often the journey they’ve taken to get there can be so unexpected. You really never know where you’re going to end up and a career in science could lead you anywhere in the world. This prospect would probably have been daunting to me a few years ago, but my experiences in Germany made me realise how much of the world there was to explore (I’m starting to get nostalgic about my year abroad now. Heidelberg, ich vermissen dich).
The talk highlighted the need for a more effective way to intervene early during an epidemic. As a biochemist, my knowledge of epidemics is more limited than I’d like to admit, so a lot of the statistics and time frames of recent epidemics were quite shocking to me. With the ability today to move around the world so quickly, the spreading of infectious disease is easier than ever before. Therefore, it is critical to intervene immediately to prevent an epidemic. This, of course, is easier said than done. To achieve such a thing, different aspects of science need to work together to have any chance of a successful end goal. Like all good talks, this one really got me thinking and I have looked further into the work done by the Wellcome Trust, a charity I could see myself working with.
As a student, there are so many opportunities to go to different lectures that may not necessarily be something you’d consider of interest. No matter how irrelevant to your degree, or how complex the talk may be, if you get even one thing out of it, it’s worth it. So keep your eyes peeled for posters around campus giving details of talks, or check the Weekly Insider email that comes to your university account.