Science Cafe: People in pain – are health researchers asking the right questions?

28 April, 2014 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Tobacco Factory

Dr Pete Gladwell - clinical specialist physiotherapist in pain management at North Bristol NHS Trust.

Pete’s research identified the benefits that patients report from using TENS devices (electrical stimulators used for pain relief). The findings present some major challenges for researchers working in the area and, we think, throw up some challenges for health research more widely. For example, he found that there was a very poor match between the benefits reported by patients and what researchers have measured in previous research – the implication being that TENS might be shown to be ineffective when in fact we have just measured the wrong things. Similarly, one of the benefits reported was that TENS distracts people from pain… but how do you measure distraction? – as soon as you ask somebody about it, they aren’t distracted any more. The implications of his observations are that health researchers perhaps need to think again at how they measure outcomes to better capture the effects of specific health interventions.

Science cafe: Psychedelic Therapy and Cannabis – From Legislation to Medicalisation

14 May, 2014 @ 7:45 pm – 10:00 pm
Halo Cafe, Bar & Restaurant, 141 Gloucester Road, Bristol, Bishopston, Bristol, Avon BS7 8BA, UK

ben sessa

(Note: this is a new venue for a new Science Cafe! We aim to meet on the second Wednesday of each month.)

In this talk Dr Sessa will go through the developmental pathway that psychedelic drugs have taken through human culture, outline their recent historical use (and demise) in medicine in the 1950s and 60s and then explore how this research is now being revisited with a plethora of contemporary psychedelic drug research studies. In the context of the recent legalisation of cannabis in several States in the USA he will explore whether there is a future for legalisation of cannabis and other drugs in the UK. The audience is encouraged to join in the debate on this interesting and contentious subject.


Dr Ben Sessa MBBS BSc MRCPsych – Ben Sessa is a Consultant Psychiatrist in Substance Misuse, Author and Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Cardiff. He has specialist training in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and works clinically with children, young people and adults, as well as with adults within the field of specialist Substance Misuse Services. Dr Sessa is involved in the pioneering research area of drug-assisted psychotherapy.
In 2009 he became the first person in the UK to be legally adminestered a psychedelic drug when he was injected with intravenous psilocybin by Professor Nutt as part of a research study at Bristol University. He has since authored peer-reviewed papers on the subject and continues to enrol as a healthy subject in many human psychedelic drug trials.
Dr Sessa is co-founder and chair of ‘Breaking Convention’, the UK’s major psychedelic drug research conference and he is currently coordinating Britain’s first MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for PTSD study. In his 2012 book ‘The Psychedelic Renaissance’ he describes the fascinating history of psychedelic drug treatments in medicine and outlines how these drugs can be used in the future for therapy and for social and personal development. Dr Sessa’s work aims to tackle stigma and the outdated negative bias against the safe uses for therapeutic substances, which need to be carefully separated from harmful misuses of dangerous drugs.

Pint of Science at Big Chill

19 May, 2014 @ 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm
The Big Chill , 15 Small Street, Bristol, City Centre, Bristol, City of Bristol BS1 1DE, UK

PintThere are two talks this evening:

1. What can animals tell us about addiction? Dr Emma Robinson

2. Are you looking at me? Emotion recognition in a social world. Professor Marcus Munafo

Visit the Pint of Science website for more details about these talks and how to get tickets.

All about Pint of Science.