Investing for a healthy planet and tech-based help for orthopaedic patients

PUBLISHED: 09:30 20 October 2020

The John Innes Centre and The Sainsbury Laboratory have launched a new initiative called Healthy Plants, Healthy People, Healthy Planet to secure a safer, healthier and more sustainable future through the power of plant and microbial science   Picture: HP3

The John Innes Centre and The Sainsbury Laboratory have launched a new initiative called Healthy Plants, Healthy People, Healthy Planet to secure a safer, healthier and more sustainable future through the power of plant and microbial science Picture: HP3

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Norwich Research Park is often the place where inspiration to change lives is borne. Here are three stories of how people there are looking to make a better world for us all.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and Dynamic Metrics are developing a wearable GaitSmart device to monitor the walking patterns of patients recovering from hip or knee replacements   Picture: NNUHThe Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and Dynamic Metrics are developing a wearable GaitSmart device to monitor the walking patterns of patients recovering from hip or knee replacements Picture: NNUH

Looking for healthy plants, people and planet

The John Innes Centre and The Sainsbury Laboratory are world-leading institutes that have been working together for years on Norwich Research Park to improve knowledge on how to utilise the plants we have on our planet.

To boost that learning, they have together launched a new initiative called Healthy Plants, Healthy People, Healthy Planet – also known as HP3 – to address the three critical challenges the planet faces:

*Feeding the world – by sustainably increasing crop yields and nutritional quality.

Plant biologist Professor Anne Osbourn has published a book of poetry called Mock Orange   Picture: John Innes CentrePlant biologist Professor Anne Osbourn has published a book of poetry called Mock Orange Picture: John Innes Centre

*Combatting global health threats – such as antimicrobial resistance and viral pandemics.

*Meeting the challenge of climate change – developing crops resilient to environmental fluctuations and requiring inputs that are low-carbon.

Professor Dale Sanders, director of John Innes Centre, explains: “The current Covid-19 crisis tells us that our world is more interconnected than we had ever realised. The next global threat could emerge in the form of a crop pathogen, or a human pathogen resistant to current antimicrobial treatment, that could put our food security and health at enormous risk.”

Professor Nick Talbot, executive director at The Sainsbury Laboratory, said: “HP3 is a strategy that will allow us to supercharge our capability in the UK, enabling us to grow food productively and sustainably. If we are to feed the world’s growing population in a sustainable way, we will need to revolutionise our agriculture.”

Plant biologist Professor Anne Osbourn has published a book of poetry called Mock Orange   Picture: SPM PublicationsPlant biologist Professor Anne Osbourn has published a book of poetry called Mock Orange Picture: SPM Publications

To support this ambition, investment in a new estate to replace buildings established in the 1960s will revolutionise the two institutes’ capabilities and maximise the potential benefits of their research. As a first step, a new £5.1m upgrade, funded by the UKRI-BBSRC, is set to deliver cutting-edge facilities, as well as significant energy efficiencies of over £0.5m a year.

Wearable tech to help orthopaedic patients

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) has teamed up with Dynamic Metrics to develop and test a wearable GaitSmart device to monitor the walking patterns of patients recovering from hip or knee replacements.

The research, funded by the Innovate UK Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, is looking to recruit 100 patients who are due to have hip or knee replacements to measure how they walk after surgery so that they can address muscle weaknesses and provide bespoke strengthening exercises with the aim of improving patients’ quality of life by reducing the risk of falls and arthritis in the future.

Celia Whitehouse, orthopaedic clinical research sister at NNUH, said: “Once the joint pain is relieved by the operation, patients need retraining to walk correctly and to strengthen weakened muscles.

“Patients are generally unaware of how their walking pattern has adapted over time and they may continue, unaware, to load joints and use muscles incorrectly. This can lead to falls, reduced activity, osteoarthritis or further joint replacement surgery.”

Turning science into poetry

Acclaimed plant biologist, Professor Anne Osbourn of the John Innes Centre, is used to seeing her name as a leading author in high-profile scientific journals. Having founded science education charity Science, Art and Writing (SAW) Trust, she is now exploring a new authorial direction with the publication of her first book of poetry.

Mock Orange is an exploration of the personal and professional, the scientific and the non-scientific. The inspiration for her book of poems is nineteenth century Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, who spent a lifetime trying to understand his world through the classification of plants.

She explains: “My poetry encompasses Linnaeus’s adventures and experiences and his fascination with plants. Mock Orange is about journeys from origins, both personal and global, in which negotiations between scientific and non-scientific languages and points of view form a central theme.

“Because I’m a scientist my language tends to be quite simple but clear. I also think writing poetry can be useful for writing other things including scientific documents because there are no spare words, and you need to be crystal clear in what you say.”

Anne got her poetry publishing break when she was placed third in a Sentinel Poetry Book competition that offered the publication of a book as a prize. Mock Orange is published by SPM Publications, click here to oder a copy.


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