Archive 2013

Report on Bioenergy Discussion, 30th August 2013
The University asked Exeter U3A to find participants for this event. As we had to do this at short notice and were not fully clear as to the nature of the event, we decided to offer places to the Science Group and 21st Century Biology Group. Herbert MacGregor invited some members of his Exmouth Biology Group. A total of eighteen attended.
The event was presented by Dr Helen Featherstone ( Project Manager – Public Engagement ) and Dr Tom Howard ( Research Fellow ) and was developed by the Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council. This BBSRC project aims to explore with members of the public their views with regard to bioenergy, and to consider these views in its strategy and policy development.
The first part was interesting and included an outline of the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from various sources and the issue of burning biomass for electricity production. Tom Howard also gave a brief description of research being carried out at Exeter into the biological production of hydrocarbons for automobile fuel.
However, the second part comprising a “future scenario” reading and cue card discussion, designed by BBSRC, was very unsatisfactory. In spite of this, a large number of important themes and issues did emerge. In addition, the feedback forms provided by BBSRC gave those present an opportunity to criticise the future scenario material provided.
Bertram Brockington

Report on "Miracle Cures" Workshop, 28 October 2013
Thirteen members of Exeter U3A attended this workshop, entitled Miracle Cures and Health Panics, facilitated by Dr Andrew Gibson and Dr Jo Welsman of the Patient and Public Involvement Team of Peninsula CLAHRC. This organisation aims to involve the public in research so that the people who are meant to benefit from research have a say in shaping it. The workshop offered some tools, techniques and resources that can help us as patients and laypeople to find accurate and useful health information.
Exeter U3A participants experienced a very warm, open and friendly atmosphere throughout the two-hour workshop. By the end of the session we began to understand the structure of a health research question and what an abstract is. In addition, we were introduced to, and utilised, a helpful tool to enable us to make a critical appraisal of new reporting of health research. The workshop was fun, enjoyable and was nurtured by some wonderful chocolate!
Maggie Teuten

Report on talk about the Effects of Fruit Drinks on the Brain by Professor Jo Bowtell, University of Exeter, 26 November 2013
This talk was held in conjunction with the Exploring your Third Age Project and was concerned with research into the effects of consuming a daily fruit based drink on brain function. Several of our members are participating in this investigation.
The beneficial effects are believed to be due to a class of chemicals called polyphenols. Participants are provided with a polyphenol-rich fruit supplement for twelve weeks and are subjected to cognitive function tests and functional MRI scans before and after supplementation.
Foods rich in polyphenols (such as blackcurrants) and nitrates (such as beetroot) are also believed to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and to slow the reduction in muscle function associated with ageing. These chemicals are thought to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the damage caused by free radicals produced by oxidative stress.
The research team can be contacted at fruit@exeter.ac.uk
Bertram Brockington