Imagining the Future of Medicine at the Royal Albert Hall
The event celebrated the unexpected connections between medicine, the arts and innovative technology. Held on Monday 21 April 2014, this was part of the Royal Albert Hall’s mission to promote access to the arts and sciences. Last year the Royal Albert Hall held TEDxAlbertopolis, which demonstrated that there is a real public interest in exploring science. Moving this event here, following the success of last year’s inaugural Imagining the Future of Medicine event in South Kensington, seems to be the natural progression.
Imagining the Future of Medicine presented a spectacular and provocative programme of talks from the world’s experts in areas such as medical innovation, modern medicine and, even, medical concepts that are not fully understood.
For me, the standout talk was given by TEDMED Curator and Chairman Jay Walker. Walker spoke about Synthetic Biology, an area of science where imagination and creativity are at the very forefront. Synthetic Biology is effectively where humans design and construct biological systems. Walker questioned “Why does life get more complicated? Shouldn’t it get simpler?” With evolution, the world is continuously getting more complicated. As a result, we currently know next to nothing about Biology. Yet, with Big Data and new technologies, “Now we can use software to begin to figure out what the hell is going on inside us.” Walker’s passion inspired the audience that the future of medicine was full of hope.
Imagining the Future of Medicine featured a number of inspiring short talks and stunning artistic performances which celebrated the power of unexpected connections. The other speakers included: Best-Selling Author and Broadcaster, Ben Goldacre; Neuroscientist Tali Sharot; Gramophone Artist Alison Balson; Neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore; Cardiothoracic Surgeon Francis Wells; and Healthcare Entrepreneur Ali Parsa.
The event also featured a series of notable artistic performances, including The Kaos Signing Choir for Deaf & Hearing Children, who were famed for entertained millions at the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. Opening the second part of the event (titled “Medicine without Borders”), the choir of young children sang, signed and taught the audience to clap in sign language.
The Royal Albert Hall was the perfect venue for this event and Dara O’Briain the perfect host. O’Briain later tweeted, “Really enjoying hosting TedMed at the Royal Albert Hall today, in my traditional role, being glib amidst the smart people.” He provided a light sense of humour to the occasion, which proved valuable between some of the more serious talks.
The talks were split into three themes: Thinking Outside the Box, Medicine Without Borders and Translating the Untranslatable.
The event itself followed a biotech showcase called “The Cell,” held in the Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Imperial College London. The Cell showcased a variety of innovations and creative ideas in the scope of future science.
Prior to the event the organiser of Imagining the Future of Medicine, Ali Rezaei Haddad, said: “Prepare to be inspired to novel ways of thinking and new avenues of endeavour.” Imagining the Future of Medicine did just that. I look forward to next year.