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TEDxKingsCollegeLondon - Beyond the genes: Identity, health and culture

2 Savoy Place 
London, IET:London, WC2R 0BL 
United Kingdom
13/04/2013 (09:00-17:00)
For more information and tickets please go to:

TEDxKingsCollege London, managed by the Twins Research team, will bring together speakers from a range of backgrounds to explore how our health, identity and culture go beyond our genes to create unique individuals in an ever-changing world.

Confirmed Speakers

    •    Julian Baggini
Julian Baggini is the author of several books, including Welcome to Everytown: A Journey into the English Mind (Granta), Complaint (Profile) and The Ego Trick (Granta). He has written for numerous newspapers and magazines, including the Guardian, the Financial Times, Prospect and the New Statesman, as well as for the think tanks The Institute of Public Policy Research and Demos. He is founding editor of The Philosophers’ Magazine. He has been writer-in-residence for the National Trust at the White Cliffs of Dover and philosopher-in-residence at the Cheltenham Literature Festival and Wellington College. He has also appeared as a cameo in two Alexander McCall-Smith novels.

    •    Simon Baron-Cohen
Simon Baron-Cohen is Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at the University of Cambridge and Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge. He is the Director of the Autism Centre in Cambridge. He is the author of several books such as Mindblindness, The Essential Difference, Prenatal Testosterone in Mind and Zero Degrees of Empathy. He is the author of the DVDs Mind Reading and The Transporters to help children with autism to learn emotion recognition. Both were nominated for BAFTA awards.

    •    Kathy Lette
Kathy Lette first achieved success de scandale as a teenager with the novel "Puberty Blues", which was made into a major film and a TV mini-series. After several years as a newspaper columnist and television sitcom writer in L.A. and N.Y, she wrote twelve international bestsellers including “Mad Cows” (the film starred Joanna Lumley and Anna Friel), “How to Kill Your Husband and Other Handy Household Hints” (recently staged by the Victorian Opera), “To Love, Honour and Betray”, “The Boy Who Fell To Earth” and “Love is Blind.” Her novels have been published in seventeen languages. Kathy appears regularly as a guest on the BBC and CNN News. She is an ambassador for Women and Children First, Plan International and the White Ribbon Alliance. In 2004 she was the London Savoy Hotel’s Writer in Residence where a cocktail named after her can still be ordered. Kathy is an autodidact (a word she taught herself) but in 2010, received an honorary doctorate from Southampton Solent University.

    •    Tim Spector
A professor of Genetic Epidemiology and Founder of TwinsUK. He has demonstrated the genetic basis of a wide range of common diseases, previously thought to be mainly due to ageing and environment. He has published over 600 research articles in prestigious journals including Science and Nature. He is currently at the forefront of research in Epigenetics - a new exciting research area into how genes can be altered. He is the author of several books for the scientific and public communities, most recently " Identically Different, why you can change your genes", and presents regularly in the media.

    •    Caroline White
Caroline White is a working mum living in Bath with her husband Simon and her two boys Seb, aged 5, and Dominic aged 2. She hit the headlines in late 2012 (including the front page of The Times) when, after a plea from her on their Facebook page to represent ‘difference’, M&S used her eldest son Seb in their Christmas TV advertising campaign. Seb has Down’s Syndrome. Caroline’s passion is to raise awareness of the condition and help to shift outdated perceptions.

    •    Ellis Watson
Ellis Watson is Chief Executive of DC Thomson publishing, one of the world's largest family owned media groups. He was previously global CEO of Syco Entertainment, the joint venture between Simon Cowell and Sony - running the global format and commercial strategies for X Factor and Got Talent, as well as the recorded music businesses. The Syco appointment followed spells on the board of Menzies and FirstGroup, the huge public transport operator with brands from First Great Western to America'sGreyhound Bus network. Before that he was at the helm of Mirror Group Newspapers, running five national titles. Ellis' first break came as a young Marketing Director at The Sun and The News of the World, moving on to take charge of the new digital business and reporting directly to Rupert Murdoch. After ten years at News Corporation he became CEO of Celador International - licensing Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? to 100 countries and overseeing 130 consumer products.

    •    Rosalie David
Professor Rosalie David, OBE, BA, PhD, FRSA is Director of the KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology at the University of Manchester. The focus of her career has been the establishment of a new university specialisation – biomedical research within the field of Egyptology – to provide a different approach to understanding the civilisation of ancient Egypt. Graduating with a BA Degree in Ancient History from University College London, she subsequently pursued a PhD study of ancient Egyptian temple ritual at The University of Liverpool. Rosalie has lectured at universities in many countries, is the author of over 30 books and many articles in peer-reviewed journals, and has been consultant and contributor to several television documentaries.She was awarded an OBE in 2003.

    •    Nick Barratt
Dr Nick Barratt is an author, historian and broadcaster. His background as a medieval historian, specialising in 13th century state finance and fiscal history, led him to a career at The National Archives, before leaving to fund Sticks Research Agency and a new role in the media as specialist researcher, television and radio presenter, journalist and author. He is perhaps best known for his work in genealogy, following his lead role in the successful BBC series "Who Do You Think You Are", and has been advocating personal heritage, ancestral tourism and the use of identity to bring various curriculum subjects to life in mainstream education’.

    •    Kristin and Maren Hallenga
Twin sisters Kristin and Maren Hallenga are the founders of breast cancer awareness charity CoppaFeel! Following Kristin’s diagnosis with secondary breast cancer in 2009, they made it their mission to ensure other young people don’t find themselves in a similar situation to Kris; where they’re told the cancer cannot be cured because it was found late. Kristin has been tested for the known breast cancer genes but is not a carrier, yet Maren still stands a slightly higher chance of being diagnosed with the disease. Having established their mottos as “You can’t polish a turd but you can roll it in glitter”, these twins show continuous strength and determination, working tirelessly on raising awareness amongst young people throughout the UK.

    •    Mark Colbourne
MBE Mark Colbourne is Great Britain’s newest Gold medal Paralympian in the sport of cycling. Mark Colbourne has gone through hell and back to reach his first Paralympic Games at London 2012, after he broke his back in a near fatal paragliding accident in May 2009 and even though he was left with lower leg paralysis and drop foot in both feet, he fought for 12 months to learn to walk again with walking aids and now prides himself as a full time professional Para-cyclist for his country. He was the superhuman athlete behind the very first medal won for Paralympics GB at the London 2012 home games with his well-deserved Silver medal on the track in the 1km individual time trial. He obtained a 3 second personal best time but was piped for the Gold by the new World Record holder from China. In the 2013 New Year's Honours, Mark was awarded a MBE.

    •    Chidi Ngwaba
Dr Chidi is the UK’s most high profile ‘Lifestyle Doctor’ . Trained in surgery, general practice & Lifestyle Medicine he shows that by changing people’s lifestyles he can help eradicate and reverse many of the chronic illnesses today such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer as well as helping people lose weight. He trained as a surgeon at two of the UK’s leading hospitals, Cambridge Addenbrookes & Papworth Hospital as well as John's Hopkins USA. He left surgery and turned to lifestyle medicine after realising that medicine and surgery alone could not cure people with chronic illnesses and the only way to really cure them was to actually change their lifestyles. Dr Chidi even opened two 'health-focused' restaurants while working as a Surgeon in Soho London called ‘Plant’ where he was able to put many of his ‘lifestyle’ practices with food to the test over the years which cemented his beliefs that illnesses could be reversed through dietary changes.

    •    Chris Hammond
Professor Chris Hammond is Frost Chair of Clinical Ophthalmology at King’s College London and an NIHR Senior Research Fellow studying the genetics of common age-related eye diseases. Based at the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology at St Thomas’ Hospital, his research has focused on the genetics of myopia, glaucoma, and age-related cataract using –omics technologies including genome-wide association studies, whole-genome sequencing, and epigenetics, and in particular measuring quantitative healthy variation in these traits in 3000-5000 twins. He has also performed twin studies to examine the heritability of macular pigment, dry eye, pupillary responses.

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