December 13th, 2010
At the second lecture of this year’s Stephen Hawking Society presentations, speaker Dr Tony Wood explained the life-saving possibilities of chemistry. Dr Wood is worldwide head of medicinal chemistry for pharmaceutical company Pfizer. In only 10 years, Dr Wood’s team developed the drug ‘Maraviroc’ to combat the HIV virus. He spoke of organic molecules which would prevent HIV, the problem being that there are more organic compounds than imaginable. He showed that slightly altering the chemistry of a compound can significantly change the properties, which he demonstrated with some pungent examples. 3D glasses were handed out, to show the potential drug interacting with the white blood cells. He went on to describe the problems encountered, for example with the absorption of the drug, and the adaptations made to the drug compound before it went through trials and then onto the market.
A productive Q&A session touched on a wide range of issues from patents, microbial resistance, drug development and epidemiology to the economics of pharmacy. The lecture also made the records, being the first one to be filmed by Dr Tanner. We appreciate Dr Wood’s thought provoking visit.
Report by Alex Shavick
December 11th, 2010
In this end of year production, the audience was really able to appreciate a theatre in the round experience. With the play set on board a convict ship bound for Australia, the audience was surrounded by both crew and convicts, with the latter’s quarters to the rear or to the side of the auditorium. Our Country’s Good explored the notions of justice and humanity and whether these two concepts are mutually exclusive. Punishment dominated the opening scenes of the play: the privations of being on board ship on a very long voyage, the poignant memories of a distant homeland and the hunger, desolation and the lashings for what often seemed minor misdemeanours. The notion of encouraging the convicts to take part in the performance of a play, Farquhar’s The Recruiting Officer, came from a sympathetic officer and rehearsals were to provide a unifying, almost redemptive experience for many of the convicts. Along the way there were some very enjoyable comic touches, in particular from Tom Ling, who took two parts in the production. There were fine performances from all the cast; particularly outstanding were Annabel Thompson as Dabby Bryant, Freddy Sawyer as the officer who inspired the play within a play’s production, and Will Jacobs as a sadistic officer. This was a stimulating, thought provoking and most enjoyable theatrical experience.