Singularity University and Crick Institute thinking comes to Wimbledon / by Tina Woods

Singularity University is a benefit corporation based in California that provides educational programmes, innovative partnerships and a start-up accelerator to help individuals, businesses, institutions, investors, NGOs and governments understand cutting-edge technologies, and how to utilize these technologies to positively impact billions of people.

From 9-12 November they are running the Exponential Medicine conference, a unique and intensive cross-disciplinary 4-day programme that brings together world-class faculty, innovators and organisations from across the biomedical and technology spectrum (from mobile health & 3D printing, to A.I., robotics, synthetic biology and beyond) to explore and leverage the convergence of fast moving technologies in the reinvention and future of health and medicine.

Hot on the heels of this conference, and in our own small way, we are bringing some of the philosophy of Singularity to Wimbledon with our event, Breaking Down The Walls: The Convergence Of Sciences And Engineering Opens Up New Ideas For The Future” on 19th November.  For tickets to the event on the 19th November you can purchase them directly from the KCS Box Office here

The event is supported by Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society and Director of the Francis Crick Institute, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2001.  Aligned to the Crick Institute’s vision of “discovery without boundaries, in which creative approaches are encouraged to explore connections between disciplines, our event will explore the creative collaboration between the scientific disciplines, looking at evolving inter-disciplinary research areas, such as bioinformatics, synthetic biology, nanotechnology, computational biology, tissue engineering, biomaterials and system biology.  We will look at how convergence can provide the blueprint for addressing healthcare challenges of the 21st century by providing a new knowledge base as well as a new generation of diagnostics and therapeutics.  We will look at how creative collaboration can be nurtured most effectively to unleash new ideas and innovation.

Chaired by Dr Anjana Ahuja, Contributing Writer on science at the Financial Times, and also contributing to the Daily Telegraph, Prospect and BBC2's Newsnight, we are involving leading scientists synthetic biology, nanobiophysics, bioengineering, neurotechnology and robotics who will each speak on a theme for 5-10 minutes before opening up discussion with the audience and inviting their questions using a ‘BBC Question Time’ format.  The scientists contributing include:

Professor Paul Freemont: Co-director of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovations, Imperial College and the National UK Innovation and Knowledge Centre for Synthetic Biology at Imperial College London.

Dr Simon Schultz: Royal Society Industry Fellow at Imperial College and Director of EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Neurotechnology. Leads research in ‘neurotechnology’, using insights and tools from engineering, mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology to investigate neural function and treat dysfunction in brain-related illnesses.

Dr Sabine Hauert: Lecturer in Robotics at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory and University of Bristol where she designs swarms of nanobots for biomedical applications. Co founder and President of Robohub, a non-profit dedicated to connecting the robotics community to the general public.

Dr Christopher Forman: A nanobiophysicist at Cambridge University who is an expert in ‘naturally-inspired manufacturing’, combining synthetic biology and metabolic engineering to understand the cleverness of biological material at the molecular scale and introducing this into mass manufacturing, with applications in food, textile, defence, health, and energy.

Dr Lena Ciric: Lecturer in the Faculty of Engineering Science, University College London. An expert in the application of molecular biology techniques to the profiling of microbial communities in various environments, including diesel degrading consortia and healthy and diseased human microbiomes.

This event follows one we held last month we held with Professor Ian Henderson, Professor of Microbial Biology, University of Birmingham and Dr Mark Lorch, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry, University of Hull.

Professor Henderson enthralled the audience in his talk about the world of microbiology.  Did you know that 99.99 % of the planet is made up of microbes, with 10 times more viruses than bacteria?  That there are 100 times more viruses on the planet than there are stars in the universe?  Or that we have 10 times more microbes living inside us than there are human cells comprising our body?  

Dr Lorch spoke on a subject that has fascinated him for years. It is a biological process of such staggering complexity that the world’s greatest supercomputers have only just scratched its surface. It is a process that goes on billions of times a second in everyone’s body and when it goes wrong it leads to such things as Alzheimer’s disease, cystic fibrosis and cataracts.  Using incredible models made from Minecraft Mark’s talk focused on the process of ‘protein folding’ which is how the molecular machines in bodies self-assemble.    Clickhere to watch his incredible Minecraft video that was recently published in The Guardian science pages.

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