Bigger than Cox
Why I am doing this. First and foremost, I want to supplant Brian Cox as the media-friendly face of science, not allowing my distinct lack of any physics understanding nor my failure to be a member of a boy band hinder me in this pursuit! Though I feel that not having caused the Iraq war should count in my favour (D:ream: Labour Landslide: Tony Blair: Iraq War – take that Coxy). Secondly I want the opportunity to share my opinions with the 5 of you who are reading this who aren’t my PhD students (my PhD students don’t count because A they have to listen to my opinions all the time and B they are PhD students) or my mother. Finally I want to reclaim my rightful place as the top John Tregoning on Google! My place is currently being threatened by some California based hipster/ web-designer with interesting hair. Oh and a book deal, I’d like one of those too
Why you should take time to read this blog.
1. It has got to be better than trawling the sidebar of shame to keep up to date with some celebrity I have never heard of.
2. You get access to my opinions (see above).
3. You are my mother and feel obliged.
What do I actually do? I am a university academic working in research. In brief, I am trying to cure the common cold, in some ways the classic problem – as in ‘they can put monkeys into space but they can’t cure the common cold’ (whoever ‘they’ are). Why is this important? Simply put, everyone gets colds! There are a number of infections that are fascinating and deadly, but it is extremely unlikely that those of you reading this have had Lassa fever or bubonic plague. It is fairly unlikely that you have had one of the big three - malaria, HIV or tuberculosis, but all of you had some form of cold, acute upper respiratory tract infection to those of us in the know(se). More importantly respiratory tract infections are the main cause of death by infectious disease – for example pneumonia. Also some groups of people, for example asthmatics, the elderly, pregnant women and babies, are much more susceptible to these infections and no one likes sick babies. Lung disease has a large economic impact, lung disease the NHS approximately £6 billion in 2006 (British Thoracic Society figures), the same as two new aircraft carriers. In addition to direct costs to the NHS, lung infection costs money in time off work directly because of infection and time off work looking after dependents (babies and the elderly – the very people who get sick the most). Common colds also contribute to the incorrect prescription of antibiotics, ¾ of colds are caused by viruses which are unaffected by antibiotics and the more antibiotics are misused, the less powerful they are when they are really needed. Finally, though ons in most people they are mild, respiratory infections can cause major pandemics for example influenza, SARS and MERS infecting millions of people and cause significant levels of mortality. So you can see this is a valid area for research, that impacts all of our lives.
What’s to come? My plan is to ramble on about subjects of interest to me on a semi-irregular basis. I will also describe the AMAZING research I do (funders take note)! Though my paranoia may prevent me from describing anything I have done in the last 5 years for fear of being scooped. And also if you want to know what I work on, just google me (ha ha, take that other John Tregoning). I also will try and share some insight/ spread disinformation about the life of a lecturer. The following subjects may or may not be included in the future, funding, working parents, translational research, the impact of student fees on the culture of learning in higher education. Alternatively I may just talk about my lunch.