I feel truly blessed to live in a city where there are more ‘ideas’ type events than it would be physically possible for me to attend. This week I gave Pint of Science a try.
What is Pint of Science?
Pint of Science was set up by two research scientists at Imperial College, Michael Motskin and Praveen Paul, who recognised that people from outside academia wanted to learn about their work.
This year, Manchester was one of the dozen host cities in the UK, with talks running from the 18th to 20th May. As the name would suggest, many of the events were held in pubs and bars.
Discovering drug discovery
The talk kicked off with the speaker asking us what the four most used drugs are. The audience quickly ticked of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, before he revealed that chocolate was a drug too.
This was typical of the accessible way that Dr Jordan explained the concepts involved in drug discovery, from relating DNA codons to a passage from Dr Seuss’ ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ to using marshmallows, strawberry laces and Jelly Tots to model cells.
I’ve never seen Breaking Bad, so I may have missed some of the analogies in the talk, but it was a part of the storytelling rather than the science and I didn’t feel it affected my understanding.
There were serious messages shared too. Drug discovery is a long-term investment for the companies that research new treatments for something as complex as cancers. It is expensive and very few medicines make it to the market.
Dr Jordan closed by saying that there has been a move towards collaboration in developing medicines, with commercial players increasingly willing to work with others, a scenario which seems a world away from the stereotypes associated with Big Pharma.