We have a lifetime’s association with our bodies, but for many of us they remain uncharted territory. The doctor takes us on a journey through health and illness, offering insights on everything from the ribbed surface of the brain to the secret workings of the heart and the womb; from the pulse of life at the wrist to the unique engineering of the foot. If the body is a foreign country, then to practise medicine is to explore new territory: the explorer and author of Empire Antarctica leads the reader on an adventure through what it means to be human.
It’s 100 years since drugs were first banned, and drug use and drug crime have continued to grow steadily across the world. What are people addicted to? Are any of the policies adopted around the world based on scientific data? Are any of them working? Hari is the author of Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War Against Drugs; Hitchens is the author of The War We Never Fought. Chaired by Hernando Alvarez, editor of BBC Mundo.
The star, screenwriter and producer of the television drama discuss the stories and period of Jennifer Worth’s best-selling books with Virginia Nicholson.
For more than twenty-five years, David Nott has taken unpaid leave from his job as a general and vascular surgeon with the NHS to volunteer in some of the world’s most dangerous war zones: Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Darfur, Congo, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Gaza and Syria. He has also volunteered in areas blighted by natural disasters, such as the earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal. Driven by both the desire to help others and the thrill of extreme personal danger, he is now widely acknowledged to be the most experienced trauma surgeon in the world. Since 2015, the foundation he set up with his wife, Elly, has disseminated the knowledge he has gained, training other doctors in the art of saving lives threatened by bombs and bullets.
Happiness expert Professor Paul Dolan draws on a variety of studies ranging over wellbeing, inequality and discrimination to bust the common myths about our sources of happiness. He shows that there can be many unexpected paths to lasting fulfilment. Some of these might involve not going into higher education, choosing not to marry, rewarding acts rooted in self-interest and caring a little less about living forever. By freeing ourselves from the myth of the perfect life, we might each find a life worth living. Chaired by Horatio Clare.
A classicist and a neuroscientist explore the Ancient Greek words Liberty, Comedy, Charisma, Xenia, Wisdom and Peace and travel both forwards and backwards in time, investigating how these ideas have been moulded by history and have made an impact on history and the human experience. Hughes is the author of Helen of Troy – Goddess, Whore and The Hemlock Cup. Critchlow is named as a British Council's Top 100 UK Scientist for her work in communication.
The winner of the 2014 Wellcome Book Prize introduces his wise and compassionate book Far From The Tree: A Dozen Kinds of Love. Ten years in the writing, it tells the stories of parents who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children but also find profound meaning in doing so. Chaired by Hay Festival President Stephen Fry.
Humans don’t always behave as you expect them to. Sometimes their responses and actions are completely irrational – we don’t always make perfect decisions – but the model we base everything on is a rational one. Why? If we design our systems, our government, and all the products and services we use for perfect, rational people, is it any wonder they aren’t working? The Stanford academic and political advisor believes that change is possible and necessary: that we can create a more local, more accountable, more human way of living that will make us more productive, more fulfilled and ultimately happier.
How can neuroscience help us to understand the sensory processing differences that can give rise to learning difficulties like dyslexia? Goswami is Professor of Cognitive Developmental Neuroscience.
The 1918 global flu pandemic wiped out around 50 million people. In the last 300 years there have been around three flu pandemics every century. We must constantly be on alert for the next one. Global efforts, including those of Professor Derek Smith, to understand how pandemics are caused, will help us mitigate and even prevent future pandemics. However this work has the perverse downside of also generating new, potentially deadly, viruses in the laboratory. Professor Derek Smith will talk about the ethical issues this raises. Chaired by Dan Davis.
The authors of Doctors Dissected discuss what might be the most formative experiences, or rites of passage, on the journey to becoming a doctor. Psychotherapist Jane Haynes talks to two 'experienced' doctors, her co-author Martin Scurr and contributor Kate Wood, about these unforgettable moments in their lives. Personal, conversational and unpredictable, Doctors Dissected steals behind cultural issues into the heartlands of doctors who are drawn to a life in medicine, conducting an autopsy as to the consequences of choosing a profession in which the practitioner is constantly faced with lonely decisions that very often are a matter of life and death.
BTB can be harmful to humans and is fatal for cattle. Managing a breakdown can be economically disastrous and extremely stressful for farmers. The campaign to eradicate bTB combines challenging diagnostic science, field-by-field biosecurity, veterinary monitoring and political will. Glossop is Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, and has made the implementation of a comprehensive TB eradication programme her highest priority. Hewinson is a globally respected scientist in the field of TB immunology and diagnostics, who worked on the collaborative project that led to the sequencing of the M Bovis genome. They talk to Peter Florence.
In 1902 HG Wells wrote ‘Humanity has come some way, and the distance we have travelled gives us some earnest of the way we have to go. All the past is but the beginning of a beginning; all that the human mind has accomplished is but the dream before the awakening.’ The astronomer boldly explores post-human evolution and offers a SWOT analysis of mankind’s short- and longer-term futures. He considers the risks of asteroid impact, climate change and, most worrying of all, the downsides of biotech, AI and other fast-advancing technologies. Chaired by Dan Davis.
A third of men and women visiting their GP have symptoms that are medically unexplained. In most, an emotional root is suspected and yet, when it comes to a diagnosis, this is the very last thing we want to hear, and the last thing doctors want to say. The consultant neurologist takes us on a journey through the very real world of psychosomatic illness.
The sexual abuse of children by adult men is a global problem. It appears to happen in every sector of society and the exposure of paedophile rings is a daily news story. But why does it happen at all? Batmanghelidjh runs Kids Company, Kennedy is a human rights lawyer, Berelowitz is Chair, national inquiry into child sexual abuse linked to the family.
Every year the Next Big Thing session at Hay profiles some of the most extraordinary and visionary research work being adventured in the UK. From brain imaging to materials discovery, three Royal Society Research Fellows discuss their work in cutting edge science with broadcaster Claudia Hammond.
The Supervet recounts this often-surprising journey that sees him leaving behind a farm animal practice in rural Ireland to set up Fitzpatrick Referrals in Surrey, one of the most advanced small animal specialist centres in the world. We meet the animals that paved the way, from calving cows and corralling bullocks to talkative parrots and bionic cats and dogs.
Aged 24, the writer’s world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how Haig came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again. Chaired by John Mitchinson.
Across the world, 44.4 million people live with dementia. Hundreds of millions of people are affected by the dementia of parents, partners, siblings or friends. And as much of the world struggles with an aging population, dementia is set to become ever more of a challenge for societies and individuals. But still most people who are diagnosed, or who are dealing with the diagnosis of a loved one, feel as though they are alone. Professor Andrews, one of the most distinguished clinicians in the UK, aims to fill this gap, providing practical information and support for living with, or caring for, dementia.
‘You can have a dog put to sleep but my mother had to go through hell.’ End of life issues are especially difficult for people with dementia and their family carers, as the person themself is often unable to make and communicate their views in a way that would be respected by our autonomy-centred healthcare decision-making frameworks. Drawing on empirical data from a socio-legal study funded by the British Academy, Professor Rosie Harding of the University of Birmingham explores the social, ethical and legal challenges of maximising dignity for those dying with, and of, dementia.
The world is messing with our minds. Rates of stress and anxiety are rising. A fast, nervous planet is creating fast and nervous lives. We are more connected, yet feel more alone. And we are encouraged to worry about everything from world politics to our body mass index. How can we stay sane on a planet that makes us mad? How do we stay human in a technological world? How do we feel happy when we are encouraged to be anxious? After experiencing years of anxiety and panic attacks, these questions became urgent matters of life and death for Matt Haig. And he began to look for the link between what he felt and the world around him. Notes on a Nervous Planet is a personal and vital look at how to feel happy, human and whole in the 21st century.
Join us for a fascinating talk that weaves the personal and the cultural, the social and the political, and explores what it means to be human in our age of uncertainties and conflicts. The novelist reflects on identity, gender and belonging, looking at a range of nations and cultures from Turkey to Hungary, from America to Brazil and Russia. How can writing nurture the markers of democracy, tolerance, the acceptance of diversity and progress? Where do we look for balance and truth, for clarity and hope?
The Wellcome Book Prize lecture aims to celebrate the place of medicine, science and the stories of illness in literature, arts and culture, and how these stories add to our understanding of what it means to be human. Elif Shafak is chair of judges for the 2019 prize, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary, and an advocate for women’s rights, LGBT rights and freedom of speech. Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist and the most widely read female author in Turkey. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published seventeen books, eleven of which are novels. Her work has been translated into fifty languages. In 2017 she was chosen by Politico as one of the twelve people who will "make the world better".
Chaired by Claire Armitstead.
Do our workplaces promote health and well-being? And, if they did, what difference would it make? Dame Carol Black is an Expert Adviser to the Department of Health, the Chair of Nuffield Trust, the leading independent advisory body for healthcare policy in the UK, and the Principal of Newnham College. She was author of a 2008 report for the government on well-being at work.
There are 6.5 million unpaid carers in the UK. There’ll be more soon as the demography changes. The Professor of Law and Director of the Centre for Health and Social Care Law examines the reality of today and the implications for the future with film-maker Anne Cottringer.
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As society becomes more liberal, the Churches often seem more entrenched. The Oxford historian explores how Western Christianity’s complex and often divisive ideas about sex, marriage and gender have their roots in a story that began 3,000 years ago. Chaired by Anita Anand.
The NHS is our most treasured institution, but even caring doctors have too many patients and too little time, while patients often feel too overwhelmed, embarrassed, intimidated or ill to ask the right questions. Dr Hammond will show you how to get your GP to listen to you and take your symptoms seriously, how to get hold of your patient records so you can ensure they’re correct, how to get a second opinion and, most importantly, how to get better (and in turn help make the NHS better too).
A Cultural History of Insanity from the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine examines the human encounter with Unreason in all its manifestations, the challenges it poses to society and our responses to it. Chaired by Stephanie Merritt.
The architect introduces the Maggie’s Centres, a revolutionary building project providing new cancer caring centres designed by some of the world’s greatest architects that offer a fresh approach to both architecture and health. Complementary to NHS hospitals, they present an environment that is welcoming, risk-taking, aesthetic and life affirming; and with their commitment to the other arts, including landscape, they bring in the full panoply of constructive means.
Project Daniel was launched in January 2014 in Sudan with the establishment of the world’s first 3D-printing prosthetic limb lab, creating artificial limbs for victims of war.
As Mohammed Ali Humanitarian of the Year and named in the Top 50 Most Creative People 2014, Mick Ebeling is the founder and driving force of Not Impossible; making DIY, accessible, tech-based solutions for people around the world and powerfully telling those stories to inspire others to do the same.
Three young female scientists who are recipients of the University of Cambridge’s most prestigious scholarship, the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, talk about their research. Julia Fan Li is director of the Global Health Investment Fund, which funds research and development for some of the most pressing global health challenges; Divya Venkatesh researches African sleeping sickness and does cross-disciplinary work in biotechnology; Alexandra Grigore works on an innovative fingerprint identity system for accessing medical records in developing countries.
Immunotherapy is now the hottest topic in cancer research and could revolutionise the way the disease is treated in the future. Our internationally renowned panel discuss the vast potential of the immune system. Quezada is Professor of Immune Regulation and Tumour Immunotherapy at UCL. Kristeleit is Clinical Senior Lecturer and Consultant Medical Oncologist at UCLH. Elliott is Professor of Experimental Medicine at the University of Southampton. In conversation with Sarah Knapton.
Tallis is inspired by EM Forster’s thought that ‘Death destroys a man but the idea of it saves him’. He looks back on his world from the standpoint of his future corpse. He reflects on the senses that opened up his late world, the elements they reveal, the distances, divisions and intimacies of space, the multifarious activities that occupied his days; his possessions, his utterances, his relationship to others, the extinguished flame that was his self, his journey towards the end, and his afterlife either side of the grave.
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Matt Morgan is an intensive care doctor; that is to say, a person in whose hands you may find yourself one day – as one in five of us will – when something has gone seriously wrong. It may be down to an accident, following a major operation, or you may have succumbed to serious illness. Being critically ill means that one or more of your vital organs has failed. At such times you’ll need faith in the ability of the medical team looking after you to make life-or-death decisions under extreme pressure or to unravel the mysteries of the human body and diagnose unexplainable illnesses urgently. On this day of his book’s launch, Morgan draws on his time spent with real patients on the brink of death, and explains how he and his colleagues fight against the odds to help them live. Baroness Finlay is a professor of palliative medicine.
Where does anxiety come from? How do we overcome imposter syndrome? What is the key to creativity? How can we deal with grief? Informed by personal insights as well as interviews with some of the world’s top comedians, neuroscientists and psychologists, the comedian and Infinite Monkey Cage host offers a hilarious and often moving primer to the mind. But it is also a powerful call to embrace the full breadth of our inner experience – no matter how strange we worry it may be!
Who or what is to blame for us getting fat and ill in increasing numbers? Sugar or fat? Gut microbes or genes? Laziness or poverty? Whatever it is, it’s placing a devastating burden on our healthcare system, and scientists in every field are desperate to explain this epidemic and stave off a modern health disaster. Anthony Warner, author of The Angry Chef, lays out the best evidence available, rails against quack theories preying on the desperate, and considers whether we’re blaming our bodies for other people’s ignorance and cruelty. Kitty Corrigan is a journalist and travel writer.
Could psychedelic drugs change our worldview? Join Michael Pollan on a journey to the frontiers of the human mind. Diving deep into an extraordinary world – from shamans and magic mushroom hunts to the pioneering labs mapping our brains – and putting himself forward as a guinea pig, Michael Pollan has written a remarkable history of psychedelics and a compelling portrait of the new generation of scientists fascinated by the implications of these drugs. How To Change Your Mind is a report from what could very well be the future of consciousness.
Our biology is set up to work in partnership with the sun. From our sleep cycles to our immune systems and our mental health, access to sunlight is crucial for living a happy and fulfilling life. New research suggests that our sun exposure over a lifetime – even before we were born – may shape our risk of developing a range of different illnesses, from depression to diabetes. Geddes explores the extraordinary significance of sunlight, from ancient solstice celebrations to modern sleep labs, and from the unexpected health benefits of sun exposure to what the Amish know about sleep that the rest of us don’t.
Our lungs are exposed to airborne particles in all aspects of everyday life, and global research suggests that they can cause serious health problems, especially in people with pre-existing lung and heart disease. Kelly Bérubé, Reader in Biosciences at The Lung and Particle Research Group, shares the latest findings.
How we perceive schizophrenia – and how we treat people living with it – is at the core of how we understand mental health. But what do we really know? How much time do we spend listening? Filer, a mental health nurse and award-winning writer, takes us on a journey into the psychiatric wards he once worked on. He invites us to spend time with world-leading experts, and with some extraordinary people who share their own stories about living with this strange and misunderstood condition.
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Mannix has spent her medical career working with people who have incurable, advanced illnesses. Told through a series of beautifully crafted stories taken from nearly four decades of clinical practice, she answers the most intimate questions about the process of dying with touching honesty and humanity. She makes a compelling case for the therapeutic power of approaching death not with trepidation but with openness, clarity and understanding. You will meet Holly, who danced her last day away; Eric, the retired head teacher who, even with motor neurone disease, gets things done; loving, tender-hearted Nelly and Joe, each living a lonely lie to save their beloved from distress; and Sylvie, 19, dying of leukaemia, sewing a cushion for her mum to hug by the fire after she has died.
Boland is head of Digital at Prospect magazine.
The walker discusses her mesmerising and inspirational memoir: just days after Raynor learns that Moth, her husband of thirty-two years, is terminally ill, their home is taken away and they lose their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall. Carrying only the essentials for survival on their backs, they live wild in the ancient, weathered landscape of cliffs, sea and sky. Yet through every step, every encounter and every test along the way, their walk becomes a remarkable journey.
By 2020, for the first time in history, the number of people aged 65 and over will outnumber children aged five and under. Travelling across the world and interviewing leading scientists about breakthroughs which could soon transform the quality and extent of life, Cavendish contests many of the taboos around ageing, and sparks a debate about how governments, businesses, doctors, the media and each one of us should handle the final few decades of life. In this manifesto for change, she argues that if we take a more positive approach, we should be able to reap the benefits of a prolonged life, and help the elderly to play a fuller part in society. But that will mean a revolution: in work, in education, in housing, in medicine – and in our attitudes. Cavendish is an award-winning Times journalist and was head of the Downing Street policy unit under David Cameron. Bakewell was appointed as a Voice for Older People by Gordon Brown.
In the nineteenth century, operating theatres were known as ‘gateways of death’, since half of those who underwent surgery didn't survive. At a time when surgery couldn't have been more dangerous, an unlikely figure stepped forward: Joseph Lister, a melancholy young Quaker surgeon. By making the then-audacious claim that germs were the source of all infection – and could be treated with antiseptics – he solved the riddle of post-operative death and changed the history of medicine for ever.
What happens to our brain at night? Are we really fully asleep and if so how is it that some individuals end up doing what they do? Or can it be the case that perhaps the brain never fully goes to sleep and that in some individuals there is a disconnect between the sleeping part of their brain and the active part of their brain, so that the two become confused? The world-renowned neurologist weaves wonderful stories that highlight how sleep disorders affect the lives and health of patients and their families.
The contemporary view of dyslexia has emerged from a century of research in medicine, psychology and, more recently, neuroscience. Considering the potential causes of dyslexia, and looking at both genetic and environment factors, Professor Snowling shows how cross-linguistic studies have documented the prevalence of dyslexia in different languages. Discussing the various brain scanning techniques that have been used to find out if the brains of people with dyslexia differ in structure or function from those of typical readers, Snowling moves on to weigh up various strategies and interventions which can help people living with dyslexia today. Chaired by Stephanie Boland of Prospect magazine.
Suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 45. What is it that makes men vulnerable and what can we do about it? Jonny Benjamin, mental health campaigner and initiator of the #FindMike campaign which successfully located the stranger who had talked him down from a bridge, the Welsh politician and mental health campaigner Eluned Morgan and the musician Dizraeli talk to Benna Waites, Joint Head of Psychology for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board. Benjamin's book The Stranger on the Bridge was published in 2018.
The impact of suicide on friends and family can be devastating and far-reaching. Kate Harding and Billie Charity, who lost a husband and brother to suicide respectively, and Sarah Stone, Director of Samaritans in Wales, join Benna Waites to talk about the experience of grieving following suicide. Kate is a palliative care doctor and GP, Billie Charity is an award-winning photographer and Benna Waites is Joint Head of Psychology for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.
There is a move in the field of mental health to shift from asking the question “What’s wrong with you?” to “What’s happened to you?” in an attempt to place traumatic life experiences and adversity at the heart of understanding mental health difficulties. Dr Lucy Johnstone, Clinical Psychologist and one of the lead authors of a radical new conceptualisation of mental distress called the Power Threat Meaning Framework, joins co-author Professor John Cromby for a discussion with consultant clinical psychologist Benna Waites.
We’re constantly bombarded by advice on what pregnant women should do – but what does science really tell us about how early development impacts on future health? Aiken explores how life in the womb affects not only our children’s lifelong health and wellbeing, but maybe even our grandchildren’s too. Aiken is Honorary Consultant in Maternal and Fetal Medicine at Cambridge University. Her work involves caring for women during high-risk pregnancies and researching how to improve the long-term outcomes for their babies.
After her father’s death from dementia, writer and campaigner Nicci Gerrard set out to explore the illness that now touches millions of us, yet which we still struggle to speak about. What does dementia mean for those who live with it, and those who care for them? The first section of Lavinia Greenlaw’s new poetry collection The Built Moment is a sequence of poems called The Sea is an Edge and an Ending, about her father’s dementia and his disappearance into the present tense. It is not a narrative of illness so much as a meditation on the metaphysics of memory and loss. Chaired by Rosie Boycott.
For the Spanish neurologist, Jordi Montero, who in 2017 published the book Permiso para quejarse, what is behind chronic pain is emotion. We do not take into consideration our own culture when we have physical pain treated, nor do we listen to our own bodies. From a rigorous and optimistic point of view, this doctor has helped us to understand ourselves as humans and our reality, based on neurology and the relationship between the brain and pain. He will talk about these matters with the intellectual and Minister of Health and Social Protection. He will talk with journalist Hassan Nassar.
By 2030 the world will be short of approximately fifteen million health workers – a fifth of the workforce needed to keep healthcare systems going. Global healthcare leader and award-winning author Dr Britnell uses his unique insights from advising governments, executives and clinicians in more than seventy countries to present solutions to this impending crisis.
The NHS long-term plan, announced in the New Year, promises increased funding and a new commitment to expanding the workforce. So how can we encourage more interdisciplinary working? And what role does education have in developing empathetic, effective and flexible health professionals to meet the challenges ahead? Join the conversation with Ian Cumming, Chief Executive of Health Education England, Sarah Greer, Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Worcester, Sarah Dugan, Chief Executive, Worcestershire Health & Care NHS Trust, and Steven Thrush, Consultant Surgeon at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
Huge efforts have been made to combat malaria for over a century, yet each year hundreds of thousands of people still die from the disease, particularly in sub Saharan Africa. The last decade has seen major reductions in this toll: are we at last on the road to eradication? The latest research charts a path towards a vaccine and new weapons against malaria mosquitoes. Faith Osier is Professor of Malaria Immunology at Oxford University and Chris Thomas is Professor of Zoology and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research at Aberystwyth University.
For the Spanish neurologist, Jordi Montero, who in 2017 published the book Permiso para quejarse, what is behind chronic pain is emotion. We do not take into consideration our own culture when we have physical pain treated, nor do we listen to our own bodies. From a rigorous and optimistic point of view, this doctor has helped us to understand ourselves as humans and our reality, based on neurology and the relationship between the brain and pain.