Research on the brain

By Aideen Sullivan, University College Cork

neuronal-signalling-coverI am very excited about the launch of Portland Press’s new journal Neuronal Signaling, which will publish research articles on all aspects of communication within the nervous system, and, crucially, make these articles available online for everyone to read. One aspect of Neuronal Signaling that is particularly appealing to me is the intention to produce lay summaries of some of the articles. The aim of this is to explain to the public, in non-scientific language, the meaning of the research and the impact that it may have to patients and to society.

Communicating science to the public is something that interests me greatly. As scientists working in biological research, we strive to cure disease and disability, to help people live for longer with able bodies and able minds, and to improve the world in which we live. This boils down to a fundamental aim of enhancing the lives of each individual and of society. To achieve this aim, we must strive to always keep that individual in mind when designing and conducting experiments. Continue reading

Communication and negotiation for female leaders

By Charlotte Dodson, Imperial College London

Prepare, prepare, prepare. These were the three most important take-home messages from the EMBO course on communication and negotiation for female leaders at the end of September 2016.

Charlotte planning to negotiate her holiday (Credit: Hilde Janssens)

Everything was defined in a scientific business context (no communication to lay audiences here) and after two and a half days of active listening, transactional analysis, thinking about relative needs and head-down building roadmaps for hard negotiations we wanted more!

Step one: ignore the other party and decide what you want. Oh so easy to say, but so hard to do. In detail. More detail. The more detail I write down, the more flexible I can be in my negotiation (apparently).

Step two: place an ambition on everything – in the ideal world how much lab space do I want, what equipment do I need access to, what would I like to be paid…

Step three: what are my limits? For what things is there a point at which I will stop and walk away? What is that point? Would I really walk away for one unit lower?

Step four: what other criteria don’t have limits but are ‘important’? What information would it be in my interest for the other person to know about me? (Make a list, make sure you tell them!) What questions do I have? (Questions must be facts, and can’t be negotiation points – don’t put the same thing in two places…).

Only once I know all of this can I even talk to the other side (or so I learned). Continue reading

Obesity, on the molecular level

By Emma Pettengale, Commissioning Editor, Portland Press

According to the World Health Organisation, as of 2014 over 600 million adults worldwide are obese, with obesity posing a significant risk to individuals for diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and some cancers.

It’s not just about how much you eat and exercise, molecular factors play a part – the genes you inherited from your parents might pre-dispose you to have an increased risk of obesity, interactions between the environment and your genes have a role and energy balance is not a simple equation.

Continue reading