The leading causes of death have changed markedly over the years. A century ago, infections were the leading causes of death. Today, we will probably survive much longer than our ancestors but it is more likely we will die of age related diseases like mobility problems, arthritis and Alzheimer's or other chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer or stroke.
Like most people, when I go to vote next may, the first thing I'll have in mind will probably not be the cure for dementia that could help my mother in 20 years' time, or the cure for autism that might help my child in years to come, or even the treatment for cancer that could save my life in 50 years' time.
The awareness-raising we and many others have been doing this week is truly crucial in the fight against HIV: because the stigma that surrounds the infection, and that at least one of our celebrity ambassadors has noticed on social media in this last week, drives a reluctance to test which actively promotes the continued spread of HIV.
Progress is urgently needed in understanding Alzheimer's disease and in finding effective treatments. Available drugs can help stabilise memory loss and confusion for a few months in about half of patients, but no preventative treatments exist and none that slow the inexorable development of the disease.
Countries like the EU, Israel and India have already banned the use of animals in cosmetic testing because animals don't predict the human response. We know this. We know that animals do not provide biologically meaningful human substitutes- and yet we continue to sustain these methods in medical research with our funds and faith.
It is estimated that more than 60,000 people will die from this dreadful disease over the next 30 years unless new treatments are discovered. Yet research into meso - the only thing that is likely to find those treatments - is shamefully underfunded, receiving a fraction of the investment received by diseases that kill similar number of people, such as skin cancer.
My facebook timeline was flooded with selfies this morning. Bare-faced, no-filter (ahem) selfies, posted by friends in the name of cancer awareness and asking others to do the same. In my usual bleary-eyed, early morning confusion I couldn't understand why, on a social networking site where most of us scroll mindlessly through the interminable selfies of the people on our friends list every single day, another selfie would help cure cancer.
We've seen examples of this in the past where researchers have been able to highlight aspects of lifestyle that affect the risk of developing disease. This past week marked the 50th anniversary of the US Surgeon General report on smoking, which for the first time in the US highlighted the significant health harms to the general public from smoking.
If it takes an undercover investigation, a review by an independent committee of experts, 65,000 signatures on a petition and an ongoing Home Office inquiry to bring these shameful acts of cruelty in one of our most prestigious Universities to light what hope is there for animal welfare standards in laboratories across the country?
Instead of gambling our medicines -- and our lives -- upon these dismal stakes, scientists can make more meaningful predictions about the effectiveness of new therapies in humans and about their safety that are relevant to people in the real world, and intercept the progression of disease before a patient even receives their diagnosis.