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The University of Southampton

Leading scientist Lord Robert Winston visits two innovative projects coming to life in Southampton

Published: 22 September 2011

The renowned fertility scientist, author and television presenter Professor Lord Robert Winston visited the University of Southampton today (Thursday, 22 September 2011) to see an internationally-recognised children’s health project in action and to officially open a new global research institute.

Professor Lord Robert Winston, presenter of the award-winning BBC programmes, Child of Our Time and the Human Body, said: “Innovation is the key to successful and applicable research. I’m very pleased to be visiting the University of Southampton to see two of the UK’s most cutting-edge health and science projects.”

The ‘Lifelab’ project gives children unique hands-on experience of laboratory medical research, teaching them not just how their diet and lifestyle affects their health today but how it can impact on their future children’s health as well.

Lord Winston visited four inspiring Lifelab experiments: young volunteers used the latest ultrasound, body fat and muscle strength testing equipment as well as learning about how their diet can affect their DNA.

“Lifelab has already inspired children to take an interest in science and to improve their lifestyle. We hope to expand this project by raising money to equip and run a specially-designed Lifelab centre at Southampton General Hospital”, explained Professor Mark Hanson, who is leading Lifelab.

He added: “We are delighted that Lord Winston, who founded the ReachOut Lab to promote science education in London and who is a campaigner for children’s health, is visiting our project today.”

In the afternoon, Lord Winston officially launched the University’s Institute for Life Sciences - a new research centre which aims to solve some of the world’s most complex multi-disciplinary problems.

The new Institute will draw together world-leading experts in engineering, medicine, computer science and maths to better understand climate change, create new medical treatments and develop the technology that will enable us to manage our energy needs in the future.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Don Nutbeam, commented: “As our world becomes more complex the science to solve emerging problems needs to be ever more sophisticated.

“The University of Southampton has a global reputation for innovation and these two initiatives are uniquely placed to make a real and lasting difference to the world around us. We are honoured that Lord Robert Winston has agreed to join us to celebrate these two new projects.”

Professor Peter Smith, Director of the Institute for Life Sciences, added: “Researchers cannot be constrained by boundaries separating traditional subject areas – we need an innovative approach to research to enable us to solve fundamental problems in health, energy and the environment. Our new Institute has been created to tackle these problems. ”

Notes for editors

Three innovative research projects taking place in the new Institute for Life Sciences:

- medical and computer scientists are growing human tissue within a microchip – this hybrid technology can be used to test how new drugs react to human cells.

- biofilms are a group of microorganisms that cause a range of problems such as dental plaque, fouling on ship hulls and product contamination in food. Southampton has the largest group of scientists in the UK trying to solve this problem.

- Over the next 20 years we’ll have need to grow more food and have less land – our researchers including nutritionists, plant scientists and social scientists are working together to find a solution.

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