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Unravel the science behind M.E at ‘Unrest’ screening and talk at the UPP

Friday 26th January 2018

Our sci-screen partnership with the Ultimate Picture Palace (UPP) Oxford is all about exploring the science behind some of cinema’s most popular science-fiction movies. We watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind and talked UFOs with an alien expert; we went Back to the Future and talked time travel with a fusion scientist!

This month, the focus is on exploring the impact of long-term illness and it’s probably one of the most emotive topics we’ve covered so far. UNREST, showing at the UPP on 30th January 6.15 – 8.30PM, is a brilliantly inventive and moving documentary that follows Jennifer Brea’s experience with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, better known as ME or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS),and her determination to prove that it is a real illness. Including one-on-one pieces to camera and SKYPE interviews with fellow sufferers, Jennifer creates a vivid picture of life with this challenging condition. Unrest world-premiered in January in the documentary competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, where it won a Special Jury Prize for editing. It also won the Illuminate Award at Sheffield Documentary Festival.

As always there will be a post-film discussion and we are delighted to welcome to the UPP Karl Morten – a ME/CFS researcher who is investigating the role of mitochondria in health and disease. He is an international figure in the field with over 50 published articles. He’ll be joined by Nina Muirhead, a doctor specialising in oncology and dermatology surgery who is also a sufferer of ME/CFS and keen to increase general awareness of the illness.

Dr Nina Muirhead

“Last year I made the shocking discovery that there is a disease affecting up to a quarter of a million people in the UK and many doctors don’t even know about it.

ME/CFS can be as devastating as a spinal injury and is more than twice as prevalent as HIV in the UK. It costs our economy an estimated £3.3 billion annually. Despite this, medical students are not taught about it and the current ME/CFS guidelines are so useless that they are now being re-written.

I am a 37-year old doctor. I studied medicine at Oxford and, like the majority of hospital doctors, I didn’t understand ME/CFS. Two years ago I was working in my dream job as a dermatology surgeon, happily married with two wonderful children, enjoying a busy social life and active holidays. Within a matter of months my life was completely changed by the Epstein Barr Virus (glandular fever) and subsequent ME/CFS. I was bedbound for three months, unable to read or even watch television. I was housebound for six months and still require a wheelchair to leave the house. Sometimes I am exhausted by just brushing my teeth. I am unable to work, I lie in bed and have to pay someone else to look after my children.

I’ll be answering audiences questions after the film from both a personal and medical perspective. With research in the field gaining momentum, this is a wonderful opportunity to find out more about the fascinating science behind ME/CFS which I believe is one of the biggest medical mysteries of the 21st Century.”

Dr Karl Morten

“I am a medical researcher at the Nuffield Department of Women’s & Reproductive Health at the University of Oxford (Formerly NDOG) and have been studying how mitochondria (the power generators in our cells) function for over 25 years. The Morten lab is currently funded by the ME Association and Horizon 2020 and our goal is to unravel what causes ME/CFS and explore the potential of repurposing existing drugs to help treat this debilitating condition.

 “The past 12-18 months has seen a series of exciting research papers start to unravel the changes in biology which may play a role in causing ME/CFS. These advances have been driven by new technologies which were not available 3-5 years ago. I’m looking forward to sharing this research with the audience.”

Find out more about Karl’s research here: https://www.obs-gyn.ox.ac.uk/team/karl-morten


Watch the official trailer

Book tickets to UNREST here.


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