Manchester Science Festival: Modern Medicines Inspired by Pliny the Elder

As part of the Manchester Science Festival, Dr Sally Freeman and 3 first year MPharm students supported an event at the Manchester Museum organised by Jemma Houghton and Kate Jones (Centre for the History of Science, Technology & Medicine) and Anna Bunney (Museum).

The event titled ‘Nature Through Roman Eyes: A Closer Look’ considered Pliny the Elder’s discoveries, for example:

  • Effects of Opium Poppy, now known to be a source of the analgesic morphine.
  • Honey as a medicine, still used today to treat skin wounds.

In the spirit of ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’, the visitors to the museum had the opportunity to dress in a toga (photo of Jemma), complete a treasure trail quiz on the medicinal plants discovered by Pliny and build chemical structures of medicines (eg morphine). It was half-term, therefore the museum was filled with enthusiastic children, who had just as much fun as the helpers!

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