Medicine has become increasingly reliant on mathematics in recent years. Differential equations and statistics have long played a role, but recent medical advances have involved the use of mathematics in new and exciting ways, such as the role of geometry and topology in:

  • modelling potential drug targets;
  • predicting cardiac defibrillation;
  • comparing human brains;
  • screening treatments for harmful side effects.

Our goal is to highlight how mathematics – with an emphasis on these subdisciplines – supports both medical research and treatment, and to involve the broader public in discussions of the future of this research.

The team

Dr Dorothy Buck, Imperial College London: overall project leader and subject expert

Dr Phil Ramsden, Imperial College London: event facilitator, presenter and resource coordinator

Suzy Antoniw, Dana Centre, London: public engagement leader

The project and its activities

Mathematics in Medicine

We plan to hold a series of evening talks and dialogues on Mathematics and Medicine.

Each event, held at the Science Museum’s Dana Centre and broadcast to other venues in the UK and online, will feature a facilitator, a mathematician and a medical specialist. The facilitator will introduce the event and immediately engage the participants. The mathematical and medical experts will then give introductory interactive chats outlining the – perhaps surprising – role mathematics plays in a familiar medical setting.

Throughout these, the facilitator will encourage discussion with the participants. The chats will end with a provocative topic, which the participants will debate and explore.

Using the Dana Centre’s digital facilities, each event will be broadcast live through webcasts (and tweets) to venues across the UK, anyone online or with a mobile. Additionally, professionals will create high-quality video and audio recordings. The resulting podcast and video highlights will be permanently hosted on the Dana Centre website, the Imperial College website and elsewhere.

A taster

The following is a link to a radio show made by Dorothy, Phil and colleagues at last year's Public Engagement conference in Manchester.

Radio Show (mp3 format)