Fifth Sense had the privilege of participating in the Imagining the Future of Medicine event, organised by Imperial College London in partnership with TEDMed on April 21st. We were able to speak to delegates who attended The Cell in the Sir Alexander Fleming building on the South Kensington campus, where innovators in health care were on hand to discuss their work and objectives. Fifth Sense Founder Duncan Boak, Mr Carl Philpott of the University of East Anglia and the JPUH Smell and Taste Clinic, Maggie Rosen and Chrissi Kelly were on hand to meet the public and ask “What does your sense of smell mean to you”?
As well as discussing taste and smell disorders with visitors to the stand, we were using an innovative device called the Scentee to test people’s sense of smell. This involved them smelling different scents emitted by the device and then completing a short questionnaire. This was our first trial run of the National Smell and Taste Survey that we are planning on running in 2015. This was a huge success and we had a small crowd of visitors around our stand for the duration of the event.
Duncan also delivered a talk in the lecture theatre to around 150 visitors in which he talked about the importance of the sense of smell to our lives, drawing on first-hand accounts of Fifth Sense members from our ongoing quality of life survey to demonstrate the huge impact that smell and taste disorders can have upon people’s lives.
As always, it is of great interest to speak to the public and hear their stories first-hand. Perhaps the most striking feature of our time at Monday’s event was the number of people who came forward to say that they, or someone they knew, suffered from some form of olfactory disorder. This supports what we already know to be the case: whilst smell and taste disorders remain largely hidden, the effects of them have far-reaching consequences.
The later part of the afternoon was spent in the Royal Albert Hall, where Dara O’Brian hosted the Imagining the Future of Medicine lecture series – three sessions with four inspirational speakers in each – on innovation, creativity and expertise in healthcare. Fascinating insights and plenty to draw on for Fifth Sense. During the networking event before and during dinner, we were able to meet a number of the speakers, and again, we were told people’s personal stories of anosmia. The recurring themes of the day for Fifth Sense were that those who are unacquainted with anosmia are surprised to hear of the profound effects on sufferers, and for those who already knew of the condition first hand, they are bewildered and isolated–an indication of the timeliness of the Fifth Sense message.