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Judging the effects of climate change on extinction may be easier than previously thought

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Published today in Nature Climate Change, a study led by Richard Pearson (UCL Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research) and by Resit Akçakaya (Stony Brook University in New York) shows that climate change may not be fundamentally different from other extinction threats in terms of identifying species in danger of extinction. The study identified factors that predispose species to high extinction risk due to climate change in order to help conservation efforts to classify species that are most in danger.

Press Release

Professor Lorna Casselton CBE FRS (July 1938 – February 2014)

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Lorna Casselton - Old Life Boat House 1965

It is with great sadness that we report the death of Professor Lorna Casselton CBE, FRS, who passed away on the evening of Thursday 13th February.  She was an alumnus of UCL having obtained both her BSc and then her PhD in 1964.  Lorna carried out her PhD on Fungal Genetics under the supervision of Prof Dan Lewis.  

Nick Lane gives inaugural UCL Life Sciences Alumni New Year Lecture

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Lane - FLS Alumni Lecture (Feb 2014)

How did life invent itself? Where did it start? Will life be common in the universe?

On 5 February, UCL alumni, staff, students and guests gathered to hear Nick Lane give the inaugural Life Sciences Alumni New Year Lecture on the Origins of Life.

The Lecture was followed by a drinks and canapés reception and Nick was there to sign copies of his book Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution, winner of the 2010 Royal Society Prize for Science Books.

Judith Mank to receive the ZSL Scientific Medal

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Prof Judith Mank

Judith Mank, GEE Professor of Evolutionary and Comparative Biology, will be presented with the ZSL Scientific Medal by the Zoological Society London at their annual awards ceremony in June. The Scientific Medal is awarded to research scientists with no more than 15 years post-doctoral experience for distinguished work in Zoology.  Many congratulations Judith.

Viva success for Dr Liam O'Hara

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Liam O'Hara successfully defended his PhD thesis yesterday. The title of his thesis is "The role of trehalose-6-phosphate in the regulation of plant development and stress response".

Anton Flügge PhD Success

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Congratulations to Anton Flügge for passing his PhD viva with no corrections. Anton's thesis is entitled “Linking pattern and process in tropical rainforests” and he was supervised by Dr David Murrell and Prof Sofia Olhede (Statistical Science).

MRC Career Development Award for Doug Speed

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Congratulations to Doug Speed who has been successful in gaining an MRC career development award in biostatistics.

The MRC has identified advanced biostatistics as a methodology of strategic importance to UK science.  The MRC Biostatistics Fellowship is one of a number of qualitative and quantitative schemes supported by the MRC under the Strategic Skills Fellowships banner. The scheme expects to make up to 3 awards a year.

The aim of the scheme is to encourage broad training programmes in biostatistics to support talented researchers who have recently completed their PhDs and wish to move into statistically based health related research.

The aim of Doug's fellowship is to develop methods for better understanding the genetics behind complex traits, then to apply these methods to improve prediction and classification of diseases. There are many diseases which we know to be highly heritable, but for which we have struggled to understand the genetic factors influencing risk.  For example, twin and family studies have shown that at least 50% of an individual's risk of developing epilepsy can be explained by genetics, but so far, we have discovered only a handful of genetic mutations impacting risk which in total explain less than 1% of the variation.

To better understand these diseases, we need to devise methods which allow for the fact that there are likely to be many hundreds, if not thousands, of variants affecting risk. Even though we are unlikely to discover the majority of these, we can still benefit greatly by determining which types of variants are causal. This information can then be accommodated in prediction models, which can be used to select individuals at high risk of developing a condition, and also for classification; many diseases, especially neurological traits, are highly heterogeneous, so diagnoses and prognoses will benefit by being able to use genetics to group individuals into subtypes.


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