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A-Level students discover the science behind medicine

11 March 2009

Ever wondered why people blink? What stops the surface of the skin from being torn off in a rugby tackle? Or what the likely healthcare response to a nuclear accident in Cardiff would be?

More than 500 A-Level students from 36 schools will have the opportunity to find out the answers to these questions and much more tomorrow (Thursday 12 March 2009) as part of Cardiff University’s annual one-day Science in Health Live event.

Out of the thousands of events taking place across the UK for National Science and Engineering Week (6-15 March), Cardiff’s Science in Health Live is one of three events shortlisted for the British Science Association’s Best Science Event Award. The winner, due to be announced next Friday (20 March), will receive a £1,000 prize from the Engineering and Technology Board (ETB).

Now in its 16th year, Science in Health Live takes place at Cardiff School of Medicine and the University Hospital of Wales. It allows young people to discover the real science behind medicine, and see first hand the study and career options open to them in health, biomedical and scientific fields.

This year’s showcase combines research laboratory tours, talks and interactive exhibits on a variety of subjects including DNA analysis, nanoparticles, premature babies, genetics, physiotherapy, diagnosis of disease and anaesthesia. Students will be able to take a virtual tour of the human brain, see the anatomy of a living heart, test how strong their muscles are, and visit a busy clinical laboratory.

James Matthews, a member of Cardiff University’s ‘Public Understanding of Science and Health’ (PUSH) group, said: "This year we have the involvement of more than 150 members of staff from across the University. We are very proud of our research track record at the School of Medicine and wish to convey to the students some of the thrill to be had from scientific discovery allied to the chance of improving medical treatment. Importantly, it is also an opportunity for many of us to give something back to an education system from which we have directly benefited."

The theme of this year’s event is Charles Darwin and the lunchtime lecture will be given by Professor Anthony Campbell, of the University’s School of Medicine and also Director of the Darwin Centre in Pembrokeshire. Professor Campbell will chart Darwin’s transformation from schoolboy to genius.

Science in Health Live is one of a series of events taking place across the University to celebrate National Science and Engineering Week. For more information visit:

Notes to Editors:

1. Cardiff School of Medicine

Cardiff University’s School of Medicine is a significant contributor to healthcare in Wales, a major provider of professional staff for the National Health Service and an international centre of excellence for research delivering substantial health benefits locally and internationally. The school’s 800 staff include 500 research and academic staff who teach more than 2,000 students, including 1,110 postgraduate students.

The School is based at the Heath Park Campus, a site it shares the University Hospital of Wales, the third largest university hospital in the UK. The School has an all-Wales role, contributing greatly to promoting, enhancing and protecting the nation’s health. A key partner in this role is the National Health Service (NHS) in Wales, with which the School is linked at all levels. This mutual dependency is illustrated by the teaching of medical undergraduates in more than 150 hospitals located in all of Wales’ health authorities.

The School is an international leader in basic and clinically applied research activities and scored highly in the most recent Government Research Assessment Exercise. School of Medicine researchers annually win tens of millions of pounds in research awards to work with Government, the healthcare industries and the charitable sector on the most pressing issues of human health. The School has six interdisciplinary research groups to draw upon its own strength in depth and the vast range of expertise available across Cardiff University.

2. Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, the University today combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group of Britain’s leading research universities.

Visit the University website at:

Further Information:

For further information contact:

Jessica Kelly

Public Relations Office

Cardiff University

Tel: 029 2087 0995