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Life Sciences headlines

Only pub sceptics will insist this isn't Richard III

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Explaining the statistical analysis of Richard III’s remains, Professor Mark Thomas (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) says: “There is a 0.0003 per cent chance that it's not him – and wars have been started over less". Read: New Scientist

America is a melting pot

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A study by UCL, Oxford University and Universita' del Sacro Cuore of Rome has mapped the genetic ancestry of North and South America, revealing the genetic fingerprints of the slave trade and colonisation. Read: Daily Mail, More: UCL News

'Monster salamanders' found in fossilised mass grave

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Professor Susan Evans (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) says the newly discovered Metoposaurus fossil was an impressive specimen, and noteworthy as the first such find in southern Europe. Read: BBC News

Return of the woolly mammoth

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Following the announcement that a scientist has inserted DNA from the frozen remains of a woolly mammoth into cells taken from a live elephant, Professor Mark Thomas (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) explains the science behind the technique. Listen: BBC Radio Berkshire ‘Anne Diamond’ (from 2 hours 40 mins)

Britons still live in Anglo-Saxon tribal kingdoms

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A study by the University of Oxford, UCL and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Australia, co-led by Dr Garrett Hellenthal (UCL Genetics Institute), has created the first fine-scale genetic map of Britain. Read: Telegraph, More: Belfast Telegraph, UCL News

The Gambian despot who 'cured HIV-AIDS' and his British homoeopath allies

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Commenting on the Gambia Wellness Foundation, Professor David Colquhoun (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology) says: "These are serious and treatable conditions and people should not be distracting from the efforts to improve things by giving people worthless remedies”. Read: Telegraph

The Life Scientific: John O'Keefe

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Professor John O’Keefe (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) explains his research into 'place cells' in the brain and what it was like to win a Nobel Prize. Listen: BBC Radio 4 ‘The Life Scientific’

'First human' discovered in Ethiopia

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A state-of-the-art computer reconstruction of a Homo habilis fossil by Professor Fred Spoor (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) indicates that the species has older evolutionary roots than previously thought. Read: BBC News, More: Guardian, Independent, The Week, NY Times, Los Angeles Times, NBC, New Scientist, National Geographic, Discovery, Science, UCL News, Listen: BBC Radio 4 'Six O'Clock News' (from 15 mins 45 secs), More: BBC Radio 4 'The World Tonight' (from 6 mins 39 secs)

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)

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