Centre for Inflammation Research

Art meets science at the Edinburgh International Book Festival

August 2018: On 21-22 August 2018, EPSRC Proteus IRC took part in the Edinburgh International Book Festival for the second year running, under the title 'Creativity for Breathing' and supported by the Wellcome Trust.

Interdisciplinary Research Summer Project student poses next to her poster
One of the Project students shows off the group poster

Over two days between 10:00-18:00, and sharing the space on George Street with the Festival book shop and a drop-in display from the National Library of Scotland, Proteus staff and students were on hand to showcase their research and help the public to learn about the technology and the scientists behind it through a range of activities: a pop-up gallery of some of their most striking images, an interactive "diagnose the patient" game, and interactive tablets that explore the project and people in more depth.

On the evening of Wednesday 22nd August, the presence of Proteus at the Festival was further enhanced with a special closed event to share the results of a recent Interdisciplinary Research Student Summer Project scheme, which saw students from the University of Edinburgh collaborate with members of the 'Breathtakers' and 'Cheyne Gang' patient support groups to tackle a co-created question:

Breathtakers– The support group for the lung condition “bronchiectasis” are interested in exploring how communication (in all of its many forms) can empower the diagnostic process or disempower it. They wanted to work with students who are interested in understanding how communication can improve self-diagnosis. They were also keen to investigate the space between medical language and the patients’ interpretation of it, and how that can impact lung health.

The Cheyne Gang– A community-based choir who live with the lung condition “chronic obstructive pulmonary disease” (COPD) wanted to conduct evidence-based research around a new breathing technique that the choir uses. The choir were interested in exploring if the breathing technique actually impacts lung physiology and improves the symptoms of COPD overall.

EPSRC Proteus IRC were delighted to welcome some special guests to take part in and watch the evening event:

  • Prof Peter Mathieson – Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh
  • Prof Moira Whyte – Vice-Principal and Head of College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh
  • Prof Kev Dhaliwal – Chair of Molecular Imaging & Healthcare Technology at the University of Edinburgh, and Clinical Lead for EPSRC Proteus IRC
  • Prof Andy Mount – Dean of Research for the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Edinburgh
  • Nick Barley – Director of Edinburgh International Book Festival
  • The Cheyne Gang – Community singing group for people living with long-term respiratory conditions
  • Rose Ann Fraser Ritchie – Poet
  • Mike Heron – Founding member of The Incredible String Band
A collage of photos from the Creativity for Breathing event
Top row: (L) The Cheyne Gang and their summer students. (C) Profs Kev Dhaliwal, Moira Whyte and Peter Mathieson. (R) Poet Rose Ann Fraser Ritchie. Bottom row: (L) Director of Edinburgh International Book Festival, Nick Barley. (C) Dean of Research for the College of Science and Engineering, Prof Andy Mount. (R) Proteus Project Manager, Dr Anne Moore, during the daytime drop-in event.

Prof Peter Mathieson says:

I was delighted to attend the Proteus event, which highlighted several important characteristics to me. First, it was an example of patient-centred research, where people with lung conditions identified research questions that would be of particular interest to them. Second, the research was led by and presented by our superb students, and from interdisciplinary subject areas across the University, not just from medicine. Third, this was one of several interactions between the University and the Book Festival. Fourth, I want to see the University engaging ever more deeply with the community, the city and the public. My congratulations and thanks to all concerned! 

You can view a gallery of photographs taken during the two-day event on the Proteus website, the link for which can be found below.



EPSRC Proteus IRC (external website)

EPSRC Proteus IRC – Creativity for Breating photo gallery (external website)

Interdisciplinary Research Student Summer Projects (external website)

The Cheyne Gang (external website)

Edinburgh International Book Festival (external website)

Rose Ann Fraser Ritchie Poetry & Creativity (external website - Facebook)

Mike Heron (external website)