Science talks in London

The Perils of Partnership in Public Health
Jun 30 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Should exercise classes be funded by soda companies? Or addiction programmes, by opioid companies? Public bodies across the globe are partnering with corporations to address obesity, the opioid epidemic, and other pressing public health problems. Often, corporate “partners” are contributing to the very problems that governments are trying to solve. We are told industry must be part of the solution. But is it time to challenge that claim?

Jonathan H. Marks argues that public-private partnerships create “webs of influence” that undermine the integrity of public health agencies and distort health policy and research. These collaborations also frame public health problems and their solutions in ways that protect and promote the commercial interests of corporate “partners.” We should expect multinational corporations to develop strategies of influence as far as the law allows. But public bodies can and should develop counter-strategies to insulate themselves from influence.

Marks does not argue that governments are inherently good and corporations inherently evil. Both are capable of good or ill! But, drawing on his legal experience and expertise, he makes a compelling case that they should be kept mainly at arm’s length: separation, not collaboration. He also calls for a new approach in public health that avoids the perils of partnership.

Jonathan H. Marks is a bioethicist and barrister, and the author of The Perils of Partnership: Industry Influence, Institutional Integrity, and Public Health (Oxford University Press, 2019). This book will be available on the day.

He is currently director of the Bioethics Program at Penn State University in the U.S., and an academic member of Matrix Chambers, London and Geneva.

Cancer cures – are we nearly there yet? (w/ Dr. Alice Howarth)
Sep 4 @ 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm

One in two of us will suffer with cancer in our lifetime and almost all of us have some experience of the disease. But do we really know what cancer is and how we can work towards a cure? Is a cure even possible? And how can we arm ourselves with the right information to help us prevent and treat cancer?

Alice is a researcher who works in the Institute of Translational Medicine at the University of Liverpool and has worked with both non-profit and for-profit organisations. In this talk she will discuss what cancer is, how it works and just how we are working towards understanding and curing the disease. She will talk about the complexities of research and some of the big success stories that relate directly to some of the many types of cancer. Only when we understand the difficulties we face can we discern between bogus cancer treatment claims and genuine scientific advancement in this field.


Talks are held on the first Wednesday of the month starting at 7:30 pm unless otherwise noted. We meet in the Star and Garter pub, 60 Old Woolwich Road, London SE10 9NY. The Star and Garter pub is close to many transport links and is approximately 7 minutes walk from Maze Hill Overground Station, or 10 minutes walk from the Cutty Sark DLR Station. Although the pub does not serve food, there are plenty of excellent restaurants in Greenwich, including several very nearby on Trafalgar Road. Attendance is free (unless otherwise stated) although a small donation to help cover expenses is appreciated. There is no need to book in advance (again, unless otherwise stated).

For further information, visit or contact Prof Chris French (email: [email protected]).

NB: You are strongly recommended to register (at no cost) with the “Psychology of the Paranormal” email list (run by Professor Chris French, Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit, Goldsmiths, University of London) to ensure that you are informed of any future changes to the programme as well as news of related events. You can also follow @chriscfrench on Twitter for announcements (including news of last-minute cancellations, changes of speaker, etc.).



The Course / Leonardo da Vinci: the Life of the Universal Man 1/10
Sep 26 @ 10:45 am – 12:45 pm
The Course / Leonardo da Vinci: the Life of the Universal Man 1/10 @ The Course at The University Women's Club

Started in 1994, The Course offers Art History, Literature, Music and Opera Lectures.

We have all heard of the great master of the Renaissance – Leonardo da Vinci. Speculation regarding the true life and meaning of his work has been rife for centuries. Books such as the Da Vinci Code and many others only serve to confirm and equally to confuse us. So how much do we really know? How did he become such a great artist, how famous was he in his own lifetime, was he rich and where and how did he learn his craft? This series of lectures will give you an insight into the life of this great artist; charting the beginnings of his career, the highs and the lows, and finding out just how and why he became the ultimate and universal genius we now regard him.

Beginnings, Schooling And Influences

We will look at the unconventional circumstances surrounding the birth of Leonardo, his family background, his father’s profession and how that impacted on Leonardo’s early education. We will examine his early training in the Florentine workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio; look closely at the latter’s techniques and working practices, the students who passed through this workshop and what possible impact all this may have had on the future development of Leonardo’s art. We will end with his departure from the Verrocchio workshop.