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Life Sciences headlines

Kew Gardens unveils science strategy

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Commenting on the future of Kew Gardens Professor Georgina Mace (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) says: “More cuts could mean it simply cannot function as an international plant centre with the reputation it has at the moment”. Read: BBC News, Listen: BBC Radio 4 ‘The World Tonight’ (from 43 mins 19 secs)

Health chiefs dismiss fad diets as money-spinning ‘nutribabble’

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Professor David Colquhoun (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology) says a lot of diet marketing can be summed up as “nutribabble”. Read: Times (£)

How unrequited love can make us more creative

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Professor Semir Zeki (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) argues that creativity is a natural, though not necessarily inevitable, reaction to love’s frustrations. Read: Washington Post

We've got the evolution of complex cells inside-out

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Professor Buzz Baum (UCL/MRC Lab for Molecular Cell Biology) explains how complex cells evolved on Earth. Read: New Scientist (£)

Genomes reveal Darwin finches' messy family tree

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Commenting on a genetic study of Darwin’s finches, Dr Julia Day (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) says the level of reported mixing between the finch species is "a textbook example of radiation". Read: BBC News

Darwin’s finches reveal role of genes in evolution

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Professor Steve Jones (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) comments on a new study which has identified the genetic mechanism that allows for the development of different beak shapes in birds. Read: Wall Street Journal (£)

Honours degrees aren't for all – some unis should only teach two-year courses

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Professor David Colquhoun (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology) explains why a two stage-system where some universities focus on teaching and others become postgrad institutions would save money and be more egalitarian. Read: Guardian

Man v milk

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Professor Mark Thomas (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) helps to explain how the ability to drink milk forged the course of human evolution. Listen: BBC World Service Radio ‘The Food Chain’ (from 5 mins 56 secs)

Duchess in the soup over her diet plan for America

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Professor David Colquhoun (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology) comments on Sarah, Duchess of York’s role as an ambassador for Imperial College London and her apparent use of the association to promote a diet system. Read: Times (£), More: The Australian (£)

By 2050 no one under 80 will be dying from cancer

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A report led by Professor David Taylor (UCL Pharmacy) has suggested that by 2050 deaths from cancer will be “eliminated” for all age groups except the over-80s by 2050, if recent gains in prevention and treatment carry on apace. Read: Independent, More: Times (£), Telegraph, Daily Mail, ITV News, Metro, Listen: BBC Radio 5 live 'Afternoon Edition' (from 11 mins 53 secs), More: BBC London 94.9 'Drivetime' (from 44 mins)

The 12 most important moments in science in 2014

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Professor Sophie Scott, Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore (both UCL Cognitive Neuroscience), Dr Helen Czerski and Professor Mark Miodownik (both UCL Mechanical Engineering) pick their key scientific moments of the year – including Professor John O’Keefe (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) being awarded the Nobel Prize. Read: Guardian

Prescription statistics

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Professor David Colquhoun (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology) comments on the latest statistics for prescription use from the Health Survey for England. Listen: BBC Radio 5 live ‘Sunday Breakfast’ (from 2 hours 33 mins)

Fake Britain: herbal slimming pills

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Professor Simon Gibbons (UCL School of Pharmacy) analyses fake ‘herbal’ slimming pills bought online for the banned substance sibutramine. Watch: BBC One ‘Fake Britain’ (from 38 mins 48 secs)

Premenstrual Syndrome is like drug withdrawal

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Research co-led by Dr Jonathan Fry (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology) and Bristol University has found that a small monthly dose of Prozac could cure PMS for four fifths of women. Read: Telegraph, More: The Conversation

Text messaging service 'helps people take their pills'

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Professor David Taylor (UCL Pharmacy) says text messaging could be coupled with each relevant prescription and prevent several thousand heart attacks and strokes in the UK annually. Read: BBC News

Most people ignore signs of cancer

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A study led by Dr Katriina Whitaker (UCL Health Behaviour Research Centre) has found that people are putting their lives at risk by dismissing the warning signs of cancer. Read: Guardian, More: Times (£), Daily Mail, Independent

£125 genetic test kit backed by Google arrives in Britain – with a health warning

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Commenting on a new Google-backed genetic test, Professor Mark Thomas (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) says that: “For better or worse, direct-to-the-consumer genetic testing companies are here to stay”. Read: Daily Mail, More: Independent, Listen: BBC World Service 'Newshour' (from 46 mins 57 secs), Watch: BBC 2 'Newsnight' (from 24 mins)

DNA Confirms: Here Lieth Richard III, Under Yon Parking Lot

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A statistical analysis led by Professor Mark Thomas and Professor David Balding (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) has combined several different lines of evidence to confirm that ‘Skeleton 1’, discovered in a car park in Leicester, is that of Richard III. Read: National Geographic, More: UCL News

Risk from extreme weather set to rise

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A Royal Society report headed by Professor Georgina Mace (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) has found that the risk to the elderly from heatwaves could increase tenfold in Britain this century because of climate change and an ageing population. Read: BBC News, More: Times

Internet usage boosts health of the elderly

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A study led by Lindsay Kobayashi (UCL Epidemiology & Health) has found that older people who use the internet regularly are healthier because they are better informed about medical issues. Read: Daily Mail, More: Daily Express

Scientists develop thought-controlled gene switch

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Professor Geraint Rees (UCL Life Sciences) comments on a study that reports genes can be switched on using the power of thought. Read: BBC News

Hay Levels: bite-sized answers to the big questions

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A new series of free five minute mini-lectures aimed at A-level students, titled the Hay Levels, have been launched online as a spin off from the Hay Festival and includes a talk by Professor Steve Jones (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment). Read: Telegraph

Bats sabotage rivals' senses with sound in food race

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Professor Kate Jones (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) comments on a study which has found a species of bat that can interfere with the sound signals of competitors to "steal" their food, saying: "Technology is opening up our understanding of these deeply cryptic creatures". Read: BBC News

Gum disease threat ‘inflated to sell mouthwash’

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Dr Paul Batchelor (UCL Epidemiology & Public Health) says that gum disease is a normal part of ageing and its threat has been exaggerated to sell mouthwash and expensive treatments. Read: Times (£), More: Daily Mail

Saatchi Bill

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Professor David Colquhoun (UCL Biosciences) explains why he feels the Medical Innovation Bill, also known as the Saatchi Bill, won’t benefit patients. Listen: BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ (from 2 hours 51 mins)

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