Professor Alison Woollard

Wednesday, March 1 2017 at 7:30PM

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108 St Aldate's
City Centre

Professor Alison Woollard

What's the talk about?

The search for the elixir of youth has been a fantasy through the ages, but is it possible to live much longer, or desirable? Most babies born in 1900 did not live past 50, but life expectancy at birth now exceeds 83 years in parts of the world. Will this almost-doubling of human lifespan happen again in the next 100 years? Why do organisms age? and why do different creatures have such different life expectancies, from a few hours to hundreds of years? Come with me on the quest for eternal youth, as I introduce you to my favourite creature, the tiny nematode C. elegans, and reveal how this humble worm is letting us into the secrets of a long and healthy life.

Alison leads a research team working on the developmental genetics of the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. Her current work concerns molecular mechanisms of cell fate determination during C. elegans development, trying to unpick the complex mechanisms by which cells become different from one another as an organism develops from egg to adult. She also has a strong interest in the biology of ageing and in neurodegenerative disease.

Alison is also strongly committed to Public Engagement, believing that science should be more strongly embedded in society as an important cultural ambition, as well as a crucial driver of economic competitiveness and improved healthcare. She presented the 2013 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures series “Life Fantastic”, broadcast on BBC4 during the Christmas period, and since then has taken part in a diverse range of Public Engagement activities, from the Green Man Festival in the mountains of Wales to regular appearances on the science comedy circuit.

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