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Life Sciences headlines

Mood-enhancing drugs could also provide relief for chronic pain

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A study led by Dr Maria Maiarù and Dr Sandrine Géranton (both UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) has found that class of drugs being studied to treat certain mood disorders may also be able to relieve chronic pain by acting on a gene involved in regulating the body’s reaction to stress. Read: Forbes, More: UCL News

Clinical academics’ postdoctoral career development

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Veronica Ranieri, Dr Helen Barratt, Professor Naomi Fulop (all UCL Applied Health Research) and Professor Geraint Rees (UCL Life Sciences) say that clinical academics’ postdoctoral career development could be helped by mentoring, improving the work environment, and better access to funding. Read: BMJ

Universities confront ‘horrifying’ figures on BME promotion

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Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu (UCL School of Pharmacy) has been leading efforts to help more black and ethnic minority academics win promotion at UCL. Read: THE (£)

Ancient Britons' DNA

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Professor Mark Thomas (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) explains the context of new research which examines DNA from individuals who died in northeast England at the beginning of the first millennium of the current era. Listen: BBC Radio 4 ‘Inside Science’ (from 53 secs)

What is Race?

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Professor Mark Thomas (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) joins Brian Cox and Robin Ince to discuss whether there is a scientific basis for the concept of race in humans. Listen: BBC Radio 4 ‘The Infinite Monkey Cage’

Conservation researchers get a new roost in Cambridge

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Professor Georgina Mace (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) comments on the opening of the new Cambridge Conservation Initiative hub. Read: Science

Could this be the end of cystitis?

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Research by Professor Gabriel Waksman (UCL/Birkbeck Institute of Structural & Molecular Biology), and the University of Virginia reveals the structure used by bacteria to anchor onto the lining of the urinary tract, which allows them to thrive and cause infections. Read: Daily Mail, More: UCL News

Professor accuses Hunt of death rates ‘lying’

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Professor David Curtis (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) says that Jeremy Hunt is lying about the deaths of stroke patients to justify his actions during the doctors' strike. Read: Mirror

Map pinpoints hotspot of bat-transmitted diseases

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A new global map compiled by scientists from UCL, led by Professor Kate Jones (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment), the Zoological Society of London and the University of Edinburgh has identified the areas that are most at risk from bat viruses ‘spilling over’ into humans. Read: Science, More: The Economist, Herald Scotland, Reuters, The Australian, The Straits Times, UCL News

New Year Honours 2016

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Professor Georgina Mace (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment), Professor Henrietta Moore (UCL Institute for Global Prosperity), Professor Wendy Carlin (UCL Economics), Dr Sue Black (UCL Computer Science) and Elizabeth Jamieson (Head of Dyslexia at UCL) are among those from the UCL community recognised in the New Year Honours list. Read: THE (£), More: Times (£)

Mammals exploded immediately after dinosaur extinction

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A UCL-led study has found that the diversity of mammals on Earth exploded straight after the dinosaur extinction event. Read: Times of India

The science myths that will not die

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Professor David Gems (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) says that the free-radical theory “was like some sort of creature we were trying to kill. We kept firing bullets into it, and it just wouldn't die”. Read: Nature

Circadian Rhythms

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Professor Steve Jones (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) joins a discussion on the evolution and role of Circadian Rhythms, the so-called body clock that influences an organism's daily cycle of physical, behavioural and mental changes. Listen: BBC Radio 4 ‘In Our Time’

Pill that may wash away the cause of Alzheimer's

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Dr Frances Edwards (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology) comments on the development of the drug EPPS which appears to break down plaques in the brain after they have already formed. Read: Daily Express, More: Daily Mail

Why we think the very first farmers were small groups with property rights

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In an op-ed piece, Elizabeth Gallagher (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) explains why it is likely that our ancestors’ switch from foraging to farming began with small groups of people using the concept of property rights. Read: The Conversation

I am having a DNA test to see if my ancestors are black

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Commenting on the use of genetic tests for ancestry, Professor Steve Jones (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) says: “On a long trudge through history – two parents, four great-grandparents, and so on – very soon everyone runs out of ancestors and has to share them”. Read: Daily Mail, Listen: BBC World Service 'Newsday' (from 19 mins 57 secs)

290-million-year-old creature could sprout new limbs

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If an ancient amphibian lost a limb or a tail, it could grow another and a new study led by Dr Anoop Kumar and Professor Jeremy Brockes (both UCL Structural & Molecular Biology), has identified the two genes necessary for salamanders to re-grow backward digits. Read: Yahoo News

We have 15 years to halt biodiversity loss, can it be done?

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In an opinion piece, Dr Richard Pearson (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) explains why achieving the UN's ambitious new target will require some big changes. Read: The Conversation

Chiropractic and osteopathy – how do they work?

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Professor David Colquhoun (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology) comments on chiropractic and osteopathy saying: “In the 120 years since chiropractic and osteopathy were invented, there is no convincing evidence that either works”. Read: Guardian

Sex and the single worm

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A study involving Dr Arantza Barrios and Dr Richard Poole (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) has found a pair of neurons in the brain of male nematode worms that allow them to remember and seek sex even at the expense of food. Read: Guardian, More: Daily Mail, Telegraph, Independent, Metro, Huffington PostWashington Post, Times of India, Nature, Listen: Nature podcast

Alternative therapies

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Professor David Colquhoun (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology) comments on whether hospitals in Essex should pay for alternative therapies. Listen: BBC Radio Essex ‘James Whale’ (from 1 hour 8 mins)

Beauty and the Brain: An Interview With the Father of Neuroesthetics, Semir Zeki

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Professor Semir Zeki (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) answers questions on neuroesthetics, a field which examines how the brain processes art. Read: Huffington Post

Listeners' science questions

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Dr Helen Czerski (UCL Mechanical Engineering), Dr Andrew Pontzen (UCL Physics & Astronomy) and Dr Nick Crumpton (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology) answer listeners' science questions. Listen: BBC Radio 4 ‘BBC Inside Science’

World Health Organization wants to know how happy we are

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Professor Sir Michael Marmot (UCL Epidemiology & Public Health) says: “Measuring subjective well-being in 53 countries is challenging because of cultural variation, but potentially adds a new and different dimension to monitoring”. Read: New Scientist

Lab-grown kidneys work in animals

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Professor Chris Mason (UCL Biochemical Engineering) says new research by the Jikei University School of Medicine is promising but we are still years off seeing it work in humans. Read: BBC News

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