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Life Sciences headlines

Only 25 Hainan gibbons remain–What next for the world’s rarest primate?

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Professor Helen Chatterjee (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) writes about the conservation challenges facing the Hainan gibbon. Read: The Conversation

Acupuncture may reduce amount of time colicky babies spend crying

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Professor emeritus David Colquhoun (UCL Biosciences) criticises the British Medical Journal for publishing a journal dedicated to research into acupuncture, which he says has never been proven to be effective. Listen: BBC Radio 4 'Today' (from 2 hrs 44 mins 58 secs), More: i News, The Sun

The human hive

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Dr Seirian Sumner (UCL Biosciences) discusses the social and breeding behaviours of eusocial insects such as bees. Listen: BBC Radio 4 'The Human Hive' (from 10 mins 20 secs)

Alien bird risk from pet trade

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Dr Ellie Dyer and Professor Tim Blackburn (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) led a project to map out where alien birds - those that have been introduced from other regions - are the most prevalent worldwide, and why. Read: BBC News, More: i News, BBC Radio 4 'You & Yours' (from 28 mins 50 secs)

What we really need to know about fake health news

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Professor emeritus David Colquhoun (UCL Biosciences) comments on how the success of modern medicine leads some people to think there must be a cure for everything. Read: Independent

Indigestion pills could triple stomach bug risk

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Dr Li Wei (UCL School of Pharmacy) led a study finding that some medications for indigestion are associated with increased risk of bacterial gastroenteritis, due to the impact on gut bacteria. Read: Daily Mail

Bat chat: machine learning algorithms provide translations for bat squeaks

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Professor Kate Jones (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) comments on new research which marks a step towards understanding the origins of human speech, via a method which enables the understanding of the meaning of bat calls. Read: The Guardian

Why humans develop sex cells as embryos — but corals don't

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Drive to preserve mitochondrial quality might explain why organisms develop sex cells at different stages of development say Arunas Radzvilavicius, Dr Nick Lane and Professor Andrew Pomiankowski (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment and UCL CoMPLEX). Read: Nature, More: UCL News, BBC Radio 4 'BBC Inside Science' (from 10 mins)

Supershoppers do Christmas

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Dr Joanne Santini (UCL Biosciences) analyses how effective different brands of toilet cleaner are - both low-cost and more expensive. Watch: Channel 4, Supershoppers (from 17 mins, 12 secs)

The 12 key science moments of 2016

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Leading scientists pick the 12 most significant discoveries and developments of the year. Contributors include Professor Mark Miodownik (UCL Engineering), Dr Helen Czerski (UCL Engineering), Dr Vaughan Bell (UCL Psychiatry), Professor Georgina Mace (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment), Professor Sophie Scott (UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience) and Professor Andrea Sella (UCL Chemistry). Read: The Observer

What do scientists hope to learn from dissecting a cheetah?

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Dr Anjali Goswami (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) discusses what was learned in a cheetah dissection she undertook in a partnership between UCL’s Grant Museum of Zoology and the Royal Veterinary College. Listen: BBC Radio 5 live '5 live Science' (from 24 mins 4 secs)

Pharma giants see future of lower healthcare profits

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Professor emeritus David Taylor (UCL School of Pharmacy) comments on the benefits and economic costs of pharmaceuticals, arguing cost effectiveness analyses should take a broader view of a drug's benefits. Read: Financial Times

DNA questions

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Dr Matthew Powner (UCL Chemistry) discusses the origins of life and whether DNA could have formed on other planets, while Dr Vitor Bernardes Pinheiro (UCL Biosciences) discusses his research developing synthetic nucleic acids. Listen: BBC Radio Cambridgeshire 'Naked Scientists' (from 32 mins 15 secs & from 50 mins 52 secs)

Britain 'spends twenty times as much on junk food as on cancer drugs'

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A report led by Professor emeritus David Taylor (UCL Pharmacy) criticises the amount of NHS funding for pharmaceuticals. Read: The Telegraph, More: Daily Mail

How did life begin?

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Dr Nick Lane (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) is interviewed about the origins of life on Earth. Listen: The Guardian's Science Weekly

Population of African elephants reduced 'dramatically'

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Professor Georgina Mace (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) is interviewed about declining populations of numerous animal species worldwide. Listen: BBC Radio 5 '5 live Drive' (from 2 hrs 37 mins 48 secs) 

How the First Farmers Changed History

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Dr Garrett Hellenthal (UCL Genetics Institute) comments on research he was involved in that suggests different groups of early farmers developed agriculture separately, as genetic evidence suggests they were isolated from one another for thousands of years. Read: New York Times

Click at the Crick

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In a feature on the Francis Crick Institute, of which UCL is a founding partner, Professor Nicholas Luscombe (UCL Genetics Institute) is interviewed about his lab's use of computational techniques to analyse genomic data sets and research into the detection of DNA damage. Listen: BBC World Service 'Click' (from 8 mins 59 secs)

Science Museum should drop Statoil sponsorship of children’s gallery

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Numerous UCL faculty members co-signed a letter calling on London's Science Museum to end a sponsorship deal with an oil and gas company. Read: The Guardian, More: The Guardian

Limit to human life may be 115 (ish)

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Professor Dame Linda Partridge (UCL Institute of Healthy Ageing) comments on a US study claiming 115 years is the maximum limit of human life. She says this is very ambitious and although life expectancy is likely to rise, the research doesn't describe what will happen in the future. Read: BBC News, Listen: BBC Radio 2 from 1 hour 2 mins

Do branded painkillers work better than cheaper generic ones?

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Professor Simon Gaisford (UCL School of Pharmacy) comments on tests undertaken for the BBC2 series 'Trust me I'm a Doctor' which compared branded painkillers containing Ibuprofen with against generic products. Read: The Guardian

‘Game-changing’ study suggests first Polynesians voyaged all the way from East Asia

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Professor Mark Thomas (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) comments on the first genome-wide study of ancient DNA from prehistoric Polynesians which supports the idea that the first settlers on Fiji were ancient mariners from East Asia. Read: Science

Garden ponds 'playing role' in frog disease spread

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Dr Stephen Price (UCL Biosciences) comments on his new study finding the lethally infectious frog disease ranavirus has spread quickly across the UK, possibly due to infected animals in ornamental ponds. Read: BBC News, More: The Telegraph, The Guardian, UCL News

Could Ancient Remedies Hold the Answer to Looming Antibiotics Crisis?

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Professor Simon Gibbons (UCL School of Pharmacy) comments on the ingenuity and complexity of organic molecules produced by eons of evolution. Read: New York Times

We’ve destroyed one-tenth of Earth’s wilderness in just 2 decades

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Dr Tim Newbold (UCL Biosciences) comments on a new study finding that between 1993 and 2009, areas free of human disturbance declined by 10% globally. Read: Science

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