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Life Sciences research and engagement activities showcased at symposium

Professor Sir David Klenerman

Professor Veronica van Heyningen

Professor Sarah Guthrie, Head of School of Life Sciences

From the evolution of flowers to personalised cancer treatments to pre-biotic molecules in space, a diverse array of research was shared at the 2019 Life Sciences Research Symposium.

The annual Life Sciences Research Symposium, this year held on 10 December, celebrates the research taking place in the School and commemorates the scientists who helped establish the University of Sussex.

As well as a series of talks from academic faculty and postdoctoral researchers in the School, two eminent external speakers delivered keynote lectures: Professor Veronica van Heyningen CBE FRS FMedSci as the Maynard Smith lecturer and Professor Sir David Klenerman FRS FMedSci as the Cornforth lecturer.

The event also included the announcement of the winners of the first Kroto Award for Public Engagement, which was presented on the day by Lady Margaret Kroto.

Hands-on public engagement activities were also demonstrated, which included chemistry jelly making, brain games, rewilding artwork and more.

Professor Sarah Guthrie, Head of the School of Life Sciences, said: “The Life Sciences Research Symposium is a celebration of the superb science taking place in the School, across a broad range of disciplines. As always, the talks were fantastic, both from our staff and from our guests, and it was great to showcase the School’s public engagement activities for the first time.

“Profs Veronica van Heyningen and David Klenerman were invited in recognition of the outstanding contributions they have made to their respective fields in biology and chemistry. I would like to thank them for attending and thank everybody else who took part; it was fantastic to spend a day hearing about cutting-edge research from across the life sciences.”

Professor Sir David Klenerman, a physical chemist based at the University of Cambridge, delivered the Cornforth Lecture, entitled ‘Watching single molecules’. It explored his attempts to tackle problems in biology and biomedical science at the level of individual molecules, such as the role of protein aggregates in the initiation and spread of neurodegenerative disease.

Sir John Cornforth was a celebrated chemist who joined the University of Sussex in 1975. His research attracted major prizes, culminating in the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on the stereochemistry of enzyme-catalysed reactions.

Professor Veronica van Heyningen, honorary Professor at the University of Edinburgh and University College London, later delivered the Maynard Smith Lecture, ‘From disease genes to biology’. This talk covered her research into the genes that cause various diseases of the eye and the underlying mechanisms.

John Maynard Smith was a renowned evolutionary biologist and geneticist and was one of the founding members of the University of Sussex. He established and served as Head of the School of Biological Sciences – now known as the School of Life Sciences. The building which now houses much of the School was named the JMS Building in his honour.

The Life Sciences Research Symposium was sponsored by Haier Biomedical, Thistle Scientific, New England Biolabs and Apollo Scientific.


By: Jessica Gowers
Last updated: Friday, 20 December 2019