• Question: have you saved any lives with any of your discovery's?

    Asked by ciarabrennan to Naomi on 17 Nov 2012.
    • Photo: Naomi Elster

      Naomi Elster answered on 17 Nov 2012:

      Hi Ciara.
      It will be a few years before that happens. I have made some really exciting discoveries that could save lives, but because they are new, we don’t know enough about them yet to be sure that they are safe. In science there’s quite a high chance that a discovery could be really rare – something might happen in just one or two people, or it could happen in most people who get a disease. When we discover something, we have to make sure it is there in a lot of people before we decide it is actionable – ie that we can do something with it. Then we need to make sure that whatever we want to do with our discovery is safe for people, and this takes a lot of work and time, but it is very important that we do this work.

      Here is a famous example of why it is important that we take the time to test our discoveries properly, however exciting they are and however urgent the need for them is: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/4807042.stm