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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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Can’t take, won’t take: why patients do not take their medicines, with Nick Barber

James M Heather30 October 2012

Image courtesy of rutty on Flickr

We’re now a few weeks into this term’s batch of Lunch Hour Lectures and the bill is as strong as ever. Thursday 25 October saw Professor Nick Barber, from the UCL School of Pharmacy, presenting his research.

While you may recognise him from the BBC2 documentary Victorian Pharmacy, Professor Barber came to shed some light on why some patients are unable, or willing, to take their medicines as they’re prescribed.

He started with the first surprising fact of the talk; of all the patients on medication for chronic health conditions, 30 to 50 percent do not take their prescriptions as they are supposed to. This is not a trivial matter, leading to a huge amount of suffering and premature death worldwide.

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Wellcome Image Awards 2012

Clare S Ryan21 June 2012

Visual imagery is a particularly powerful way of getting people to see science in a different way – as a source of beauty – as well as providing important information about the world around us.

The Wellcome Trust knows this perhaps better than anyone. Their annual Wellcome Image Awards celebrate the best images submitted to their archive in the previous year, and, as usual, UCL scientists get a particularly good showing.

Out of a total of 16 winners, four UCL images were presented with awards by the host Fergus Walsh, the BBC’s medical correspondent.

Three of UCL’s winning images were taken by the same team- Annie Cavanagh and David McCarthy from the UCL School of Pharmacy. Two images were of crystals; the first, a false-colour magnification of caffeine crystal, reminiscent of particularly beautiful sticks of rhubarb. (more…)

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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