History of Medicine and the Independent join forces in podcast project “Moments in Medicine”

Can the history of epidemics or the history of body fat help us better understand our susceptibility to illnesses like swine flu or provide a clue to the modern day rise of obesity?

These are just two topics covered by an ambitious series of podcasts from the Centre for Health, Medicine and Society: Past and Present exploring medicine through the perspective of the past.

Medical historians at Brookes hope to reach entirely new audiences via the internet to trigger awareness and debate around health and ethical issues affecting us all.

‘Moments in Medicine' at http://www.independent.co.uk and on the Oxford Brookes History of Medicine web-page is aimed at students, teachers, health professionals and the wider public.

The goal is to bring together the expertise and experience of historians, scientists, health practicioners, educators and those directly affected by illness and disease to the public in an accessible format.

Jimmy Leach, editorial director for digital at The Independent, said:

"I think there's a huge amount of interest in this kind of popular documentary, especially on a topic which is important to us all. - This is an excellent way of delivering what might be thought of as quite an esoteric topic to a mass audience."

Professor Steven King, head of the History of Medicine Centre at Brookes commented:

"Our personal histories are filled with medical moments. From the first breath, we start a medical journey that shapes our whole life experience.

"Childhood chicken pox, tumbles, diseases and life-threatening conditions all require medical interventions. But what has that journey been like in the past, and does it provide clues about our medical futures?"

Medicine promises to make us better, to ease the pain of suffering, to never stop discovering new medical treatments.

Themes covered by the podcasts include the history of fat and our body image through the centuries, as well as the background and relevance of the past to contemporary issues such as genetics, IVF, sex selection and epidemics like malaria and the flu.

Some of the questions to be explored are can you be both fat and fit, does ethnicity affect medical treatment, are some of us immune to epidemics because of our ancestry?

"Students will listen more to a podcast on their iPod on the bus than read some literature. Literature is crucial but we hope this will become more interactive," added Professor King.

The format will vary and include round table discussions, head-to-head interviews and public debates.

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