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Professor David Curtis contributes to guidelines on the use of genetic testing in psychiatry

Professor David Curtis of the UCL Genetics Institute is one of the contributors to a statement on Genetic Testing and Psychiatric Disorders which has been issued by the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics. The statement is intended to give guidance to psychiatrists, patients and their families as well as other healthcare professionals. It reflects the latest advances in research and their implications for the clinical care of patients. Subjects covered include tests used to clarify diagnosis and risk as well as tests used to guide treatment. The statement also addresses broader issues such as ethical implications of testing, direct to consumer (DTC) testing and incidental findings.

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Alien species are primary cause of recent global extinctions

Alien species are the main driver of recent extinctions in both animals and plants, according to a new study by UCL researchers.
The study, published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, used data from the 2017 IUCN Red List on the total numbers of species that are considered to have gone extinct globally since 1500.

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Dr Christophe Dessimoz laureate of the ISCB Overton Prize 2019

Each year with the Overton Prize, the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) recognises the outstanding achievements of an early to mid-career scientist who has made a significant contribution to the field of computational biology.
We are pleased to report that the 2019 laureate is Christophe Dessimoz, Associate Professor in Bioinformatics in GEE and Computer Science.

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Dr Ivan Kadurin awarded a Project Grant from the British Heart Foundation

Dr Ivan Kadurin has been awarded a £160K grant as a PI from the British Heart Foundation. Ivan will lead a project investigating how auxiliary proteins regulate Voltage-Gated Calcium Channels (VGCCs) in sensing and responding to electrical signals in arterial smooth muscle cells. Elucidating these mechanisms can provide rationale for targeting dysfunctions of the cardiovascular system. Ivan’s project builds on his postdoctoral work on VGCCs in the group of Professor Annette Dolphin (NPP) and on his existing collaborations with Professor Riccardo Olcese (UCLA) and Professor Andrew Tinker (QMUL).

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Dr John Labbadia secures an Academy of Medical Sciences Springboard Award

Congratulations to the IHA’s Dr John Labbadia who has just received an Academy of Medical Sciences Springboard Award.
The award will fund his work using C. elegans genetics, human tissue culture models and high-throughput approaches to understand the interplay between mitochondria, protein quality control and susceptibility to age-associated protein conformational diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's.

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Dr Maria Secrier celebrates a Springboard award success

GEE's Dr Maria Secrier has been awarded a Springboard award from the Academy of Medical Sciences. The grant scheme offers £100K funding as well as mentoring and career development support for investigators starting their first independent position to help launch their research careers. 

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Dr Saad Hannan secures Fellowship to study Rett Syndrome

Congratulations to NPP’s Dr Saad Hannan who has been awarded a $100K Fellowship from the international Rett Syndrome Foundation. He will lead a project to characterise dysfunctions of GABAergic inhibition in Rett Syndrome. This is a debilitating neurodevelopmental disorder effecting 1:10,000 live births resulting in severe mental and physical disabilities.
Saad's study will address previously unexplored links between inhibitory neurotransmission and Rett syndrome. He will also assess the effectiveness of targeting GABA receptors as a therapeutic avenue using new resources created during the project.

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Kimberley Whitehead secures grant to translate neuroscience to the clinic

Congratulations to Research Associate Kimberley Whitehead from NPP who has been awarded a £70k grant as PI. The funding has been secured from the MRC Confidence in Concept and UCLH Biomedical Research Centre’s portion of the UCL Therapeutic Acceleration Support Fund. She will lead a project to build a model of sleep-wake cycling in human neonates.

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Thalassinos lab celebrates a successful PhD viva

Congratulations to Dr Juliette James, a Wellcome Trust-funded student supervised by Dr Kostas Thalassinos, for successfully defending her PhD thesis entitled "XLIM-MS towards the Development of a Novel approach to Cross-linking Mass Spectrometry" on 22 November.
Soon after her Viva, part of her PhD work was published in Analytical Chemistry.
We wish Juliette well for her future research career.

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Professor Georgina Mace wins prestigious biodiversity award

We are proud to announce Professor Dame Georgina Mace has received the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in recognition of her pioneering research in biodiversity.
Professor Mace, founding director of the UCL Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research and UCL Professor of Biodiversity and Ecosystems, was jointly awarded the Ecology and Conservation Biology category of the prize with Professor Gretchen Daily of Stanford University.

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Neanderthals sprinted in Ice Age woodlands

Neanderthals lived in much warmer climates than previously thought, with bodies that supported sprinting rather than distance running according to a new study co-authored by Professor Mark Thomas and Dr Yoan Diekmann.
The finding challenges the assumption that Neanderthals were a branch of the human family tree that was specifically adapted to cold, open tundra-like environments.

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New, giant bacterial virus found in human gut

A new giant virus that infects bacteria commonly found in the human gut has been discovered by an international team led by researchers from UCL and UC Berkeley.
A study, co-authored by Professor Joanne Santini and published in Nature Microbiology, describes the discovery of Lak phage and reports that they specifically infect bacteria called Prevotella which live in all people but most notably those who have a traditional ‘hunter gatherer’ high in fibre and low in fat.

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CBER to represent UCL on the Global Challenges Research Fund 'Hubs' initiative

We are pleased to announce the Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research is a partner on one of the 12 recently awarded Global Challenges Research Fund 'Hubs'. These cross-disciplinary hubs are each receiving around £20 million to look into and address one of the global challenges.
CBER is part of the UKRI GCRF Trade, Development and the Environment (TRADE) Hub, led by the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), which aims to understand the environmental and social costs and benefits of international trade. UCL's contribution to the project will be led by Dr Tim Newbold and Professor Georgina Mace. The funding of around £0.75 million will allow them to support two research staff who will be working on evaluating biodiversity impacts of international trade.

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Professor Annette Dolphin delivers the 2019 Mabel FitzGerald Lecture

The annual lecture, hosted by the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at the University of Oxford, pays tribute to Mabel Purefoy FitzGerald - the pioneering physiologist, clinical pathologist and the second female member in the history of the American Physiology Society.
Professor Dolphin, who is a University of Oxford graduate with a BA in Natural Sciences and holds a PhD from the University of London's Institute of Psychiatry, delivered this year's talk entitled: Neuronal calcium channel trafficking and function: relevance to chronic pain.

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New spider named after UCL scientist Dr Ben Collen

A newly discovered species of spider, Loureedia colleni, has been named in honour of Dr Ben Collen, an internationally recognised conservation scientist and founder member of the UCL Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research.

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Dr Lucy van Dorp interviewed by BBC Radio 4 on the genetic legacy of political systems in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Dr Lucy van Dorp, post-doctoral researcher at UCL Genetics Institute, spoke to Dr Adam Rutherford on BBC Radio 4 Inside Science about the genetic legacy of state centralisation in the pre-colonial political system of the Kuba Kingdom, located in what is now the central Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The study, an international five-year collaboration between UCL and economists at Harvard University and published in PNAS, finds that the formation of the Kuba Kingdom into a large-scale and centralised state shaped the DNA of its descendents. Members of the Kuba Kingdom today, called the Kuba, are both more genetically diverse and retain genetic signatures of migration and mixing not detected in neighbouring people. As discussed on Radio 4, this work demonstrates the importance of societal systems in shaping genetic patterns, as well as the utility of genetic analyses to reveal information on historical events, particularly in regions of the world where few written records exist.

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First ever Discovery Fellowship for UCL awarded to NPP’s Dr Asaph Zylbertal

We are very pleased to congratulate Asaph Zylbertal who has been successful in securing the BBSRC Discovery Fellowship. This highly competitive scheme, previously called Future Leader Fellowships, provides support for researchers wishing to undertake independent research and gain leadership skills.
The award of £300K will allow Asaph to study how the transformation of visual input to behaviour is modulated in the brain, by combining two cutting edge techniques: cellular resolution whole-brain functional imaging in larval zebrafish and modern machine learning techniques. The work will be undertaken in Dr Isaac Bianco's lab.
This is the first Discovery Fellowship ever awarded to any UCL researcher. Please join us in congratulating Asaph for his outstanding achievement.

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Sue Povey, Emeritus Professor of Human Genetics

It is with great sadness that we inform you of  the passing of Professor Sue Povey MD FMedSci, who was associated with UCL, within the MRC Human Biochemical Genetics Unit  and the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment (and its forerunners), for most of her career.  As Emeritus Professor in Human Genetics, Sue continued her long term research interest into the study of Tuberous Sclerosis with the curation of mutation databases of the two genes responsible, TSC1 and TSC2 until only a few months ago.

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Congratulations to Dr Kerri Kinghorn who has been awarded a Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Career Development Fellowship

Dr Kerri Kinghorn, a UCL Excellence Fellow in the Institute of Healthy Ageing, has been awarded a five-year Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Development Fellowship. This will enable her to establish her own research group to study the ‘Endolysosomal trafficking defects in Parkinson’s disease’ using Drosophila and neuronal models.
Please join us in congratulating Dr Kinghorn for her outstanding achievement.

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Congratulations to Dr Jack Humphrey for successfully passing his viva

Please join us in congratulating Dr Jack Humphrey, MRC Clinical Neuroscience PhD student, for successfully passing his viva on 14 December. His project was jointly supervised by Dr Vincent Plagnol from the UCL Genetics Institute, Professor Adrian Isaacs, and Dr Pietro Fratta, both at the UCL Institute of Neurology.

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GEE student from the Gems lab receives funding award from Doctoral School to host the CLeanTech Challenge, a UCL-LBS initiative

Carina Kern, PhD Student in Professor David Gems lab and Scientific Chair of the CleanTech Challenge (CTC) has successfully been awarded a contribution from the UCL Doctoral School to help fund the 2019 CTC Competition. Matched funding will be contributed by the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship London Business School and a small contribution was made by the Graduate Tutors from GEE.

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GEE student receives the 2018 Publisher's Award for Excellence in Systematic Research

Dr Konstantinos Angelis, a PhD student from Professor Ziheng Yang's group, has won the 2018 Publisher's Award for Excellence in Systematic Research from the Society of Systematic Biology, for his paper published in the journal Systematic Biology. The full list of recent and past winners of the award can be found on the Society of Systematic Biologists website.
The award, sponsored by Systematic Biology's publisher, is presented to the two best papers based on student research published in Systematic Biology during the previous year. The lead author must be a student at the time the research is conducted. The Publisher's Award is $US 500 and is presented at the annual meeting to the student authors. The winner is selected by a committee consisting of the President and the Editor.
Kostas graduated in 2016 and has been working with GlaxoSmithKline.

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