For the second year in a row, Kidney Research UK has sponsored events at the annual Pint of Science festival. Originating in 2013, this international science festival brings together leading scientists and researchers to local pubs in cities across the world, so people can discover and learn about science over a pint. It now runs in 21 countries worldwide.
In the UK, some 32 cities held Pint of Science activities from 14-16 May. Kidney Research UK was represented by some of its key funded researchers and their teams at events in London, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
At these events, members of the public got to hear about how amazing an organ the kidney is, how it works, what happens when it fails and, most importantly, what remarkable research is being carried out right across the country to find cures for kidney diseases, and to improve patients’ lives.
In London’s Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, Professor Fred Tam spoke about his work in the lab exploring the mechanisms of how the immune system works and how it causes disease, moving on to explain how this causes fibrosis (scaring) in the kidney which means the kidney can no longer do its job of filtering blood. In her talk, Professor Liz Lightstone highlighted the huge dilemma faced by women with kidney disease who want to start a family. She gave examples of the risks and challenges faced by kidney patients and how clinicians provide information and care to women facing this dilemma.
The Abel Heywood in Manchester saw Professor Rachel Lennon speak about the amazing kidney filter. She explained how the extracellular matrix, the scaffold structure of the kidney, supports the one million tiny filters in each kidney in cleaning over 100 litres of blood each day. Dr Neil Roberts then explained his research on orofacial syndrome and the connection between kidney infection and children not being able to smile or form normal facial expressions.
In Newcastle’s Old George Inn, Dr Edwin Wong and Dr Kevin Marchbank spoke about the impact research has on treating rare diseases, especially aHUS, and how much time it can take from an initial idea through research, testing, clinical trial and approval before a treatment can be made available to patients.
Speaking about why he supports Pint of Science events, Dr Marchbank said: “Demystifying science is so important and something I am passionate about. We have complex questions to answer that take time and take money. So when there is an opportunity like Pint of Science to bring difficult science into the public domain in an easily accessible way, then I’m all for it.
“I want young people and people from here to go away and tell their friends and families about the event and what kind of science we are doing in Newcastle and across the country and across the world. That scientists are good, that the research we do for the public is good.”