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King's experts at the 2014 Cheltenham Science Festival

Academics from across King’s will feature at the Times Cheltenham Science Festival this year, giving talks and hosting events on a variety of topics between 3 and 8 June including doping and sport, personalised medicine and even the science of cake.

This is the fifth year that King’s has partnered with the event which brings together some of the world’s greatest scientists and thinkers to help answer some big questions at one of the UK’s leading science festivals. 

Professor David Cowan, Director of the Drug Control Centre at King’s, will discuss how performance enhancing drugs such as steroids, growth hormones and erythropoietin work, exploring the effects and side effects on the body and explaining how we uncover the cheats that use them.

Professor David Green, Centre of Human and Aerospace Physiological Sciences, will be discussing how to live like a Martian as a handful of people will be sent to Mars in 2024 on a one-way mission to establish a permanent human colony on the planet. Professor Green will discuss how those selected will cope and what it will take for them to live permanently on Mars.

Dr Julie Keeble, Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, will run a session as part of the schools programme which will give pupils the chance to be a pharmacologist for the day, using water-fleas to measure the effects of chemicals found in beetroot and lettuce on lowering blood pressure. 

Professor Jayne Lawrence, also from the Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, will debate the pitfalls and potential of ‘personalised medicine’ - the practice of using your unique genetic profile to tailor your healthcare, and even one day to protect you from conditions you may be susceptible to.

Professor Clive Page, Director of the Sackler Institute of Pulmonary Pharmacology, will be putting the science back into baking with ambitious live demonstrations and audience taste tests in an event that shows you can have your cake and experiment on it too.

Professor Robert Plomin, Institute of Psychiatry, will discuss the genetics of intelligence, debating whether education should be tailored to an individual’s ability and needs and asking whether the pressure to achieve at every level of the education system is too much for children to cope with. He will also discuss his research on whether intelligence is heritable in a separate talk where he will be joined by Robert Winston to discuss the nature vs. nurture debate.

Professor Ilina Singh, from both Social Science Health & Medicine and the Institute of Psychiatry, will discuss brain stimulation, something which is already being used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease but has potential for use in helping with depression, pain and brain injury due to recent advances. She will ask whether we should be interfering with the brain and discuss what this technology has to offer and whether we should be wary of what it could lead to.

Chris Coe, Director of Public Engagement at King's, said: 'Cheltenham Science Festival goes from strength to strength attracting tens of thousands of visitors and massive media coverage; it's great to see so many academics from King's taking part and sharing their research with a wider public.'

Cheltenham Festivals is the charitable organisation behind the town’s internationally acclaimed Jazz, Science, Music and Literature Festivals. Through cutting edge and creative programming, Cheltenham’s four inspirational Festivals have been at the forefront of the UK’s cultural scene since the inaugural Music Festival in 1945.

For more information about the Cheltenham Science Festival please visit their website.

For further information about King’s visit the ‘King’s in Brief’ pages