Bioelectricity beyond the brain

Sally Adee
Thursday, May 16, 2024
3:30 pm
NS2 1201

Here are a few things you don’t normally associate with electricity: how a fertilised egg attains its final shape; how the body heals its wounds and responds to injuries; how a cell makes its journey from healthy to cancerous. Neither would you link it to plants’ defenses against pests, fungi’s quest for food sources, or bacterial colonies’ social networks. And yet it has become clear from the past few decades of research that all these activities are coordinated by electric signals which maintain and precisely manipulate biology’s delicate cellular voltages.

The growing appreciation of how relevant these processes are to our health and the health of the environment around us has given researchers new approaches to everything from horticulture to antibiotic resistance. But they are still fighting superstitions and biases that emerged in the 1700s, which confined the legitimate study of bioelectric signalling to the nervous system. This talk will take you through the controversial history of bioelectricity - the missteps around its discovery, and its subsequent exclusion from most of biology - and into the future, where its manipulation could change the way we understand and defeat so many of our most common maladies. 

Albert Siryaporn