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Press Invitation: A new dimension in global interactive teaching

For Immediate Use
14 June 2001

World-class masters will be able to share their knowledge with a live global audience following the launch of a project that brings a human touch to multi-media communications.

Imperial College's e-MasterClass series launches on Tuesday 19 June with a look at healthcare in 2020 by Sir Richard Sykes, rector of the College and chairman of pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline plc.

Journalists are invited to attend the e-Masterclass at Imperial College's South Kensington campus on Tuesday 19 June at 9.30am.

The e-MasterClass uses state-of-the-art technology to further the College's commitment to interactive distance teaching. It responds to the human desire to communicate with people rather than machines while taking the 'chalk-and-talk' aspect of teaching into a global dimension.

In real-time and with eye-to-eye contact, leading academics will take part in lectures and question-and-answer sessions with peers and students around the world.

Speakers will be displayed on plasma television screens and, with a time-lag of less than a second, video-conferencing equipment will track their movements. Interactive whiteboards will allow complex charts and diagrams to be altered during the course of a MasterClass by participants wherever they are located, encouraging real discussion and development to take place.

Unlike conventional pre-recorded lectures or web-based learning, the e-MasterClass uses technology that is unobtrusive, producing a more informal teaching environment.

Founder of the concept Professor Chris Toumazou said: "The e-MasterClass offers an exciting opportunity to apply the natural human aspect of teaching to the global village in which we all now operate. We aim to hide the technology as much as possible to give the impression of a real-time local interaction, even though the speaker and audience may be thousands of miles apart."

The inaugural MasterClass given by Sir Richard is entitled 'Healthcare 2020: the promise of innovation'.

In it he looks forward to a time of far greater knowledge of the genetic and environmental factors in disease, and welcomes the opportunities new technologies will bring for the care and treatment of patients.

As examples he highlights Imperial College research into the development of cochlea implants to bring hearing back to the profoundly deaf; the potential of implantable micro-electronic devices for use in precise, localised destruction of tumours; and the use of tissue engineering and imaging to create cartilage plugs to 'patch up' holes in cartilage, for example in worn knees.

The lecture will be broadcast to guests from government in the UK, and in the University of New South Wales, Australia and Mahanakorn University, Thailand, institutions with whom Imperial College has formed strategic partnerships.

Future e-MasterClasses are planned on subjects taken from all scientific fields, including medicine and engineering. Issues to be covered include global healthcare, biomedical engineering, wireless and mobile phone technology, post-genomics and food safety.

For further details and to confirm your attendance please contact:

Sandra Koura
Director, e-MasterClass
Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6261

Abigail Smith
Press Officer, Imperial College
Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6701

Notes to Editors:

1. The e-MasterClass Advisory Committee comprises Sir Eric Ash, treasurer of the Royal Society, Dr Geoff Carr, science editor of The Economist, Professor Peter Clarricoats, emeritus professor at Queen Mary and Wesr at Queen Mary and Westfield, Professor Patrick Dowling, vice-chancellor of the University of Surrey, Colin Grimshaw, studio manager at Imperial College, Dr Roger Highfield, science editor of The Daily Telegraph, Professor Dick Kitney, chief executive of Imperial spin-off Com.Medica, Sandra Koura, e-MasterClass director, Sir Robert May, president of the Royal Society, Professor Poosana Premanoch, visiting professor at Imperial College, Dr Peter Saraga, Philip's research laboratories, Professor Chris Toumazou, e-MasterClass founding director and head of the department of bio-engineering at Imperial College, Dr Chris Towler, director of strategic development at Imperial College and Professor Bill Wakeham, deputy rector of Imperial College.

2. Future speakers include: Professor Ara Darzi of Imperial College, Professor Chris Toumazou of Imperial College and Professor John Baruch of the University of Bradford.

3. e-MasterClass web site at: (live Monday 18 June)

4. Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine is an independent constituent part of the University of London. Founded in 1907, the College teaches a full range of science, engineering, medical and management disciplines at the highest level. The College is the largest scientific, technological and medical university institution in the UK, with one of the largest annual turnovers (UKP339 million in 1999-2000) and research incomes (UKP176 million in 1999-2000). Web site at