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Antibiotics: the rise and fall of a ‘wonder drug’

Claire J Roberts12 December 2013

AntibioticsProfessor Peter Taylor (UCL School of Pharmacy) began his Lunch Hour Lecture with a chesty cough – an ironic note to the problems faced by both his immune system and society, as he notes you can’t, of course, cure a common cold with antibiotics. The confusion about this is just one of the reasons for the emergence of dangerous resistance to antibiotics – the subject of Professor Taylor’s Lecture.

He first presented the incontestable fact that antibiotics have changed the world. They are arguably the most important medical breakthrough of the 20th century, with the 1941 introduction of penicillin hailed as a ‘miracle cure’ for infections that could devastate populations (not least because of its serendipitous discovery by Alexander Fleming).

Our 70-year run of antibiotic use is a drop in the ocean compared to the 10,000 years that humans have faced – and succumbed – to these infections.

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UCL School of Pharmacy New Year Lecture: first impressions count

news editor17 January 2012

Morgan Williams, UCL School of Pharmacy, writes about the first event for the School after its merger with UCL, held on 10 January.

Everyone understands the importance of first impressions and tonight really has something of a first date feel to it.

Professor Sir John Tooke

It’s the fifth New Year Lecture that the School of Pharmacy has organised, but the first under the UCL banner. It comes just nine days after the conclusion of a merger process that’s taken up the best part of the past two years for the School.

I’d be lying if I said that it’s been an easy courtship. So, there’s a certain frisson in the air as Lord Tim Clement-Jones introduces our speaker Professor Sir John Tooke, UCL Vice-Provost (Health), to an audience at the Royal Society that is jam-packed with pharmacy movers and shakers.

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