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Posts from the ‘Opinion’ Category

Vaccines are vital

More than 200 years on from the discovery of the first vaccine against smallpox, Professor Peter Openshaw, Professor of Experimental Medicine at Imperial College London and President of the British Society for Immunology, says we cannot afford to be complacent about vaccines.

Professor Peter Openshaw. Image credit: Imperial College London.

As a clinician working in research, I want to improve peoples’ health. The NHS was set up to focus on treating people with disease. But how much better would it be if we could prevent people from getting sick in the first place?

This is where vaccines come in. As vaccinologists, we use our scientific knowledge to design new or improved vaccines to stimulate the immune system. This creates natural protection against infections and prevents disease.

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Why patient involvement in research matters

Jane Dunnage was forced to give up work due to the rare autoimmune condition systemic lupus erythematosus, also known as SLE or lupus. After 10 years of being a Trustee for the charity LUPUS UK she now leads patient involvement for the MRC-funded MASTERPLANS* study. She explains why research needs the patient voice.

Jane Dunnage (Image copyright: D Boyraz)

Jane Dunnage (Image credit: Derya Boyraz)

I had to give up my job in communications about 20 years ago because of the symptoms of lupus. It was affecting my eyes and my joints, and the fatigue was extremely disabling. I found it impossible to carry on working.

But it was another four or five years before I was actually diagnosed. I became a ‘pass the parcel’ around different consultants and departments for a year. Then somebody at long last recognised the link between the wide-ranging symptoms and said, “I think you have lupus”.

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A reflection on health inequalities

Last week the Academy of Medical Sciences published a report, Improving the health of the public in 2040’ Dr Vittal Katikireddi is an NHS Research Scotland Senior Clinical Research Fellow in the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit and was a member of the working group. He explains how a healthier society can only be achieved by making society fairer – and why the solution goes beyond anything medicine can do on its own.

Slow progress

Despite advances in medical technologies treatments and public health measures, we’ve made no progress in addressing health inequalities in the UK. For example, a boy born today in one of the most deprived areas of Glasgow can expect to live around 15 years less than someone born in one of the richest parts of the city. Read more