Science festival attracts prominent academics

Leading researchers in cancer treatment, retinal disease and the health benefits provided by companion animals will be speaking at a science, arts and heritage festival celebrating the area’s close connection with Sir Isaac Newton.

The Gravity Fields Festival, which takes place in Grantham, Lincolnshire, from 24-28th September 2014, pays homage to the world’s most influential physicist and mathematician, who was born and made many of his most important findings at nearby Woolsthorpe Manor.

Taking part in the packed five-day programme of events is Professor Nigel Allinson MBE, Distinguished Professor of Image Engineering at the University of Lincoln, UK, who leads a pioneering research consortium into proton beam therapy as a more effective radiotherapy treatment for thousands of cancer sufferers.

He fronts the ground-breaking PRaVDA (Proton Radiotherapy Verification and Dosimetry Applications) project, which aims to create one of the most advanced medical imaging systems ever imagined.

The patent-pending technology would enable clinicians to see in real time and in 3D how particles interact with a tumour during proton beam therapy – considered the Holy Grail of radiotherapy. It has the potential to make proton therapy safer and more effective.

The PRaVDA project is funded with a £1.6m grant from the Wellcome Trust and involves a multinational team of clinicians, physicists, engineers and computer scientists.

Professor Allinson’s talk, ‘Treating and Seeing Cancer with Protons’, will take place at 10.30am at the Angel and Royal Hotel in Grantham on Saturday 27th September 2014.

He said: “Reducing the uncertainty of where the proton dose is delivered from several centimetres to a few millimetres will allow difficult tumours to be treated and greatly reduce any dose to healthy tissue.”

The University is also staging an interactive display relating to the talk and technology as part of the festival’s science fair in The George Centre.

On Wednesday 24th September members of the public will have the chance to question leading science experts from around the UK as they debate the issues that will dominate our future.

Chaired by Justin Webb from BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, panellists include Professor Andrew Hunter (Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligence, and Pro Vice Chancellor University of Lincoln), Professor John Burn (Clinical Genetics, Newcastle), Professor Valerie Gibson (High Energy Physics, Cambridge and CERN), and Dr Melody Clark (British Antarctic Survey). Science Futures will take place at St Wulfram’s Church from 7.45pm.

On Thursday 25th September Professor Daniel Mills, from the University’s School of Life Sciences, will be delivering a lecture ‘Companion Animals and our Multispecies Society’ at Grantham Guildhall from 2.45pm.

He said: “Companion animals have enormous potential economic, health and social values to society, but the domestic environment is becoming an increasingly difficult area for them to peacefully co-exist with us. At the University of Lincoln we have been examining both the benefits and problems that arise to develop innovative solutions, discussed in this talk.”

Dr Anna Marie Roos, historian of science and medicine, from the University’s College of Arts, will be examining what drugs were prescribed by apothecaries in the 17th Century, how they were made, and the professional standing of apothecaries and physicians.

Her talk ‘Newton and the Apothecary’ will take place from 3.45pm at the Angel and Royal Hotel on Thursday 25th September.

Gravity Fields Festival now has three high profile patrons, Professor Valerie Gibson, Grantham born and now one of the UK’s top women scientists, TV presenter Dallas Campbell and Rob Iliffe, a world authority on Sir Isaac Newton.

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