National Pathology Week 2019
National Pathology Week (NPW) brings together scientists and academics across the UK to create awareness about pathology. Don’t miss National Pathology Week school visits, laboratory tours and stalls on campus at Exeter from 4th to 8th November.
Scarlett Parr-Reid, Science Editor, caught up with president of the Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Society, Hallie Awarah, on the importance of pathology.
What is pathology and what is its role in healthcare?
‘Pathos’ comes from the Latin idea of disease – something that’s not right. ‘Ology’ means ‘the study of’; hence pathology is the ‘study of disease’. In your body, if something is pathological, something isn’t physiologically right. If you get a cut on your hand, it activates the immune system and your body tries to get rid of it. Anything that shouldn’t be inside of your body like tooth fillings, hair growing inwards, a tiny little paper cut and infectious microbes, the body doesn’t want them entering. Think of it as someone trying to get inside your house when you don’t want them to.
What is the purpose of National Pathology Week?
Pathology Week, endorsed by the Royal College of Pathologists, is a way to make people aware of the different things that can go wrong in the body and ways that the NHS and research can help prevent pathology from killing people.
How is the week run here at Exeter and who can get involved?
The Exeter Medical Leadership and Management Society are running the week here. It will involve educational stalls, visits to nearby schools and colleges to teach about pathology, laboratory workshops and talks by experts in different areas of pathology. Students can volunteer for any of these events, representing the university at St. Luke’s campus, Royal Devon and Exeter hospital as well as at local schools and colleges. They can give as much or as little time as they desire
What is the Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Society doing for National Pathology week?
We will be running a stall at Exeter Medical School to inform the public and students about immunology and infectious diseases. Understanding of the immune system and vaccinations to protect you against diseases is key to preventing pathology.
National Pathology Week aims to overcome the fact that some children grow up in disadvantaged backgrounds by bringing the science of pathology around the country.
The biggest problem in healthcare is antibiotic resistance. We want to focus our stall on teaching this. We will talk about how antibiotics can be overused, misused and incorrectly used, so it’s vital that the public know how to use them properly. The stronger antibiotics are, the more toxic they are, so it’s vital we don’t use too high doses of them.
Why do you think it’s important to teach young children about pathology?
Early exposure to information about pathology and sources of healthcare is critical to ensure children are best protected from disease in the future. Healthcare education should be a right. National Pathology Week aims to overcome the fact that some children grow up in disadvantaged backgrounds by bringing the science of pathology around the country.
Advances in pathology include using genomics. What is genomics and how can university students learn more about it?
Genomics is the study of all of the genes that encode your proteins. These proteins are responsible for most of the body’s functions. This is different from genetics, which looks at single genes and their structure and function. Bioinformatics is a new way to study whole genomes on the computer. Students can access almost any journal paper featuring genomics online if they search them through the university library’s catalogue.
Microbiology and pathology can be complicated topics to a non-scientific audience. How do you communicate them effectively to a lay audience?
I teach applied medical knowledge microbiology sessions to students here at Exeter university. One way I like to present ideas about microbiology is through analogies, as these can be more interesting and relatable. Streamlining the science when I communicate it helps, because I am getting the take-home messages across.
It’s the 10th anniversary of National Pathology Week. What are you most excited for this year?
I’m looking forward to seeing how much it has changed since I last went. It’s grown a lot since then. Also, I’m excited to see it from a medical perspective, as I started studying medicine here since the last time I went to the pathology week. I founded the Microbiology and Infectious Diseases society a couple of months ago following my master’s in microbiology and this is our first time doing a stall for National Pathology Week.
For further information, or to volunteer for National Pathology Week 2019 at Exeter, email firstname.lastname@example.org. All volunteers will be awarded a certificate from the Royal College of Pathology, which can go nicely on your CV.