Monday 18th May 2015 – This Is Your Research On Drugs

Well, this was an interesting night, for lots of reasons.  The event is called “PubhD”, and the “pub” part of that is kinda important.  So when we turned up to our usual venue to find it closed, it was a little awkward.  After the initial panic, we did find another venue and the evening went very well.  We still had a good turnout, in spite of the sudden venue change.  We found that Twitter and Facebook were excellent means of getting the word out to people (so follow us @PubhDManchester and join the Facebook group – it could save you getting stranded in the rain like those of us who turned up early!), and as far as we know, no-one got lost or left behind (we’re so, so, sorry if you did).

On this occasion, we had two speakers, both talking about drugs.  “Ooh, that sounds exciting”, I hear you say!  Well, it was.  James Gilburt spoke about his research on synthesising proteins for use in medications that the modern world takes for granted.  Insulin, for example.  His work is mainly focused on getting synthesised proteins to fold correctly, to be usable.  Lots of use of the whiteboard in this talk, and James spoke for the full 20-minutes during the Q&A.  Closely related to the first talk, Xavier Just Baringo recently completed his PhD on synthesising natural compounds for use in drug manufacture.  Many chemicals are formed in nature under conditions that cannot be easily replicated in a lab, and so the ease with which they can be produced in bulk depends on different factors than if we were just farming the raw materials.  Part of Xavier’s research was on studying the viability of synthesising certain chemicals found in the natural world – how complex is it, how much will it cost, what sort of yield can we get? And so on…  And yes, someone asked the obligatory question about cannabis.  No, there’s not much point in synthesising THC – you can harvest it naturally in large enough quantities.

Well, like all our other events, discussion continued in the bar downstairs (did we mention the bar staff were kind enough to provide us with a private room?).  This was great, as it gave everyone an opportunity to engage further by conversing with the speakers while not on the clock.  But it leaves us with a dilemma for next time: where do we go from here?  Quite literally, where are we going to go?  We need a new venue.  Keep checking the site, Twitter and Facebook for news on this.  We will be returning in September, location TBC.