Feature News — 26 November 2017

Popular physicist Professor Jim Al-Khalili OBE asked the question “Does Life Need Quantum Mechanics?” when he gave his hour-long lecture at the North Staffordshire Medical Institute last month.

Speaking as part of the 48th Annual Wade Lecture the Professor both baffled and educated his sold-out audience which consisted of physicists, fans and Keele University and Newcastle-under-Lyme College students.

In his synopsis Professor Al-Khalili discussed a new idea that much like physicists, biologists will soon have reason to use quantum mechanics, adding that “there is now solid evidence that enzymes, those metabolic workhorses that drive much of the action in our cells, use the process known as quantum tunnelling to accelerate chemical reactions.”

Speaking after the lecture Professor Al-Khalili drew comparisons between himself and friend and fellow physicist Professor Brian Cox, who recently toured the country with his own show-style lecture, commenting on the need to make lectures such as his own more accessible for the general public.

He said: “People watch live music – why not watch a lecture in the same way?”.

Professor Jim Al-Khalili joins a long list of renown Wade Lecture speakers who have gone before him including 11-time Paralympic Gold Medallist Lee Pearson CBE, British UNICEF Ambassador, former broadcaster and independent politician Martin Bell OBE, and physician, comedian and commentator Dr Phil Hammond, as well as writer and columnist Mr A. N. Wilson and first female Director General of MI5 Dame Stella Rimmington.

The lecture came a week after the Institute’s Awards Presentation Evening, where more than £100,000 was awarded to local medical researchers.

The event held at the Institute, offered the chance for grant recipients and their medical research projects to be acknowledged in front of friends, family and colleagues.

Grants were awarded to studies into bladder cancer, lung disease, brain injuries and sleep apnoea, as well as childhood asthma and bowel disease.

As well as the Research Award prizes, Chairman Professor Shaughn O’Brien awarded the Medical Institute Keele Medical Student Prize, the NSMI Chamber of Commerce Public Understanding of Science Prizes and the NSMI and UHNM Firelighter Awards.

Since 2000, the North Staffordshire Medical Institute has awarded close to a million pounds to local medical research projects such as diabetes, ovarian cancer, genetic studies, heart research and depression.

The Institute, which was opened in 1965, was the first purpose-built post-war postgraduate centre for medical and dental education and research in Britain.

It now operates as an independent charity and conference centre, complete with two-tiered lecture theatres, modern audio-visual equipment and an onsite catering team.

Medical and surgical research grants are funded by donations, legacies and surplus monies from room hire at the North Staffordshire Conference Centre.

To find out more about the conference facilities available at the North Staffordshire Conference Centre please visit: www.nsconferencecentre.co.uk

To find out more about the North Staffordshire Medical Institute please visit: www.nsmedicalinstitute.co.uk

Find us on Facebook (@nsmedicalinstitute / @nsconferencecentre) and Twitter (@nsccentre).

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