Populations & Lifelong Health

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Crossing fingers can reduce feelings of pain

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Cold stimulus on the crossed middle finger

How you feel pain is affected by where sources of pain are in relation to each other, and so crossing your fingers can change what you feel on a single finger, finds new UCL research.

Complex genetic ancestry of Americans uncovered

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Approximate geographic sampling location of donor (circles) and recipient (diamonds) populations analyzed.

By comparing the genes of current-day North and South Americans with African and European populations, a new study has found the genetic fingerprints of the slave trade and colonisation that shaped migrations to the Americas hundreds of years ago.

Weight discrimination has major impact on quality of life

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Man on scales

Weight discrimination is linked to significantly lower quality of life, and accounts for approximately 40% of the negative psychological effects associated with obesity, finds new UCL research funded by Cancer Research UK.

‘Most attractive’ male birds don’t have the best genes

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Peacock

‘Attractive’ male birds that mate with many females aren’t passing on the best genes to their offspring, according to new UCL research which found promiscuity in male birds leads to small, genetic faults in the species’ genome. Although minor, these genetic flaws may limit how well future generations can adapt to changing environments. 

Lack of government data-sharing hindering social mobility research

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Parliament

Better sharing of routinely collected data could accelerate progress towards improving social mobility and reducing child poverty, as well as generate significant financial savings, according to a new UCL report published today.

More than a third of 12-year-olds embarrassed to smile because of their teeth

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Mother brushing child's teeth

More than a third (35%) of 12-year-olds and 28% of 15-year-olds say they have been embarrassed to smile or laugh due to how they felt about their teeth, finds a new UCL-led report commissioned by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

The first fine-scale genetic map of the British Isles

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The regions of ancient British, Irish and Saxon control in the 7th Century

Many people in the UK feel a strong sense of regional identity, and it now appears that there may be a scientific basis to this feeling, according to a landmark new study into the genetic makeup of the British Isles.

Structure of genetic messenger molecules reveals key role in diseases

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Illustration of how many connections form across mRNA molecules, where colour indicates the length of each connection

Messenger RNAs (mRNA) are linear molecules that contain instructions for producing the proteins that keep living cells functioning. A new study by UCL researchers has shown how the three-dimensional structures of mRNAs determine their stability and efficiency inside cells. This new knowledge could help to explain how seemingly minor mutations that alter mRNA structure might cause things to go wrong in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Epoch-defining study pinpoints when humans came to dominate planet Earth

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Columbian Exchange

The human-dominated geological epoch known as the Anthropocene probably began around the year 1610, with an unusual drop in atmospheric carbon dioxide and the irreversible exchange of species between the New and Old Worlds, according to new research published today in Nature.

Assumptions of equality lead to poorer group decisions

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European Central Bank governing council meeting

People of differing competence tend to give each other’s views equal weight, preventing them from making the best group decisions, finds new UCL-led research.

How drinking behaviour changes through the years

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Old man drinking in pub

In the UK, frequent drinking becomes more common in middle to old age, especially amongst men, according to UCL research published in the open access journal, BMC Medicine. Doctors are seeing a growing number of cases of alcohol misuse among the elderly and this finding supports concerns that older people might be abusing alcohol.

New paint makes tough self-cleaning surfaces

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water-bead-dirt

A new paint that makes robust self-cleaning surfaces has been developed by a team led by UCL researchers. The coating can be applied to clothes, paper, glass and steel and when combined with adhesives, maintains its self-cleaning properties after being wiped, scratched with a knife and scuffed with sandpaper.

Computer reconstruction of human fossil sheds light on our origins

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Handy man 1

The fossil of Homo habilis, or ‘handy man’, has undergone state-of-the-art computer reconstruction, revealing new information about its jaw shape which indicates the species has older evolutionary roots than previously thought and shows that three different Homo species existed between 2.1 and 1.6 million years ago, according to UCL researchers who led the study.

Drugs Live results: how different types of cannabis affect the brain

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Channel 4 presenter Jon Snow inhaling cannabis

New UCL-led research reveals the positive and negative effects of different types of cannabis on the human brain, in a trial broadcast on Channel 4: Drugs Live: Cannabis on Trial.

Strange Creatures put on display at UCL

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The Kongouro from New Holland

‘Strange Creatures: The art of unknown animals’ is a new exhibition at the Grant Museum of Zoology at UCL. By examining the world of animal representations, the exhibition explores how imagery has been used to bring newly discovered animals into the public eye.

PROUD study shows Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis is highly protective against HIV infection

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PROUD study logo

Researchers from the Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit (MRC CTU) at UCL and Public Health England have presented results at a conference in Seattle, Washington, indicating that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is highly protective against HIV for gay and other men who have sex with men in England.

Dr Jade Alglave named as winner of prestigious Royal Society award

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Dr Jade Alglave (UCL Computer Sciences) has been named as the winner of the Brian Mercer Award for Innovation by the Royal Society,

Diabetes and depression predict dementia risk in people with slowing minds

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Old woman waiting at bus stop

People with mild cognitive impairment are at higher risk of developing dementia if they have diabetes or psychiatric symptoms such as depression, finds a new review led by UCL researchers.

UCL awarded £10m to develop new dementia treatments

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Examining embryos under the microscope

Alzheimer’s Research UK today announced a £30m Drug Discovery Alliance, launching three flagship Drug Discovery Institutes at UCL, the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford. The Drug Discovery Institutes will see 90 new research scientists employed in state-of-the-art facilities to fast-track the development of new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Brain’s GPS system influenced by shape of environment

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Grid

Patterns created by the brain’s grid cells, which are believed to guide navigation, are modified by the shape of the environment, according to UCL researchers. This means grid patterns aren’t a universal metric for the brain’s GPS system to measure distance, as previously thought.

New technique doubles the distance of optical fibre communications

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Strand of optical fibers

A new way to process fibre optic signals has been demonstrated by UCL researchers, which could double the distance at which data travels error-free through transoceanic sub-marine cables.

Cancer fear can impact screening uptake

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Colorectal cancer tumour

People who worry about cancer are more likely to want to get screened for colon cancer, but feeling uncomfortable at the thought of cancer makes them less likely to actually go for the test, finds new UCL-led research.

Having a romantic partner present can make pain feel worse

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Image of a similar experiment where the hand was stimulated by 'pinprick' laser pain pulses

The support of a romantic partner is often advised for painful medical procedures, but new research from UCL, King’s College London and the University of Hertfordshire finds that this can actually make the pain feel worse.

Major cause of blindness linked to calcium deposits in the eye

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Thousands of hydroxyapatite spheres (magenta), each just a few microns across, are found in large drusen deposits within the eye

Microscopic spheres of calcium phosphate have been linked to the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a major cause of blindness, by UCL-led research.

Human activity puts Earth’s systems at risk

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Reef

Four of the nine systems that regulate the interaction between land, ocean, atmosphere, ice-sheets and life on Earth are at risk from destabilisation due to human activity, according to an international team including UCL scientists.

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