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By Ralitsa Madsen, Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge, UK
Iris, the Greek Goddess messenger between humans on Earth and the Gods on Mount Olympus, has made an entry into human biology by providing inspiration for the name of a skeletal muscle-derived hormone. Irisin belongs to the class of myokines, which are molecules released by skeletal muscle in response to exercise and act as messengers to other tissues, including liver, fat and the brain. Given the beneficial effects of exercise, particularly in the context of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, major efforts have been invested into discovering myokines of potential therapeutic value. Irisin seems to have it all, with multiple animal studies confirming its metabolic benefits such as lowering of blood glucose and lipid levels. Continue reading
By Tilly Potter, Department of Twin Research, King’s College London
I recently began my PhD during which I will be carrying out investigations into the human microbiome – that is, all of the microbes we harbour on and in our bodies and their genetic material. The reasons why I was attracted to this area are likely similar to those of other scientists who have entered this field; microbiome research is still in its relative infancy yet appears to hold enormous potential regarding understanding differences between health and disease, with the number of diseases or adverse health states examined continuing to increase with time. This makes it an incredibly diverse and exciting area to work within! Continue reading
By James Brown, Education and Public Engagement Officer, Biochemical Society
The dominating spectacle of dinosaurs and dodos seemed to spark the imagination of guests at the British Society for Gene and Cell Therapy’s annual Public Engagement Day, this year held at the Museum of Natural History in Oxford.
Biochemical Society members Evita Hartmane, Heba Ismail and James Tomkins joined me for the first outing of our new public engagement activity: Scientific Scissors. The activity is all about Genome Editing – What is it? How does it work? What can we do with it? What should we do with it? Why is it important? The aim is to start conversations about new technologies and give people the opportunity to ask questions whilst engaging with the ethical issues involved.
By Dr Kelly Davidge, Research and Development Manager at Kirkstall Ltd
In the Government’s recently published Green Paper on building the UK’s industrial strategy, they recognise the importance of investment in science, research and innovation and have committed to a number of strategies to boost the UK innovation economy. Although the UK has three of the top 10 and 12 of the top 100 world universities, we lag behind other countries when it comes to investment in innovation through research and development (R&D):
- 1.7% of UK GDP- gross domestic product- is invested in R&D funding, compared with the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) average of 2.4%;
- business investment in R&D is 1% in the UK, but 2% in Germany, 2.5% in Japan and over 3% in South Korea;
- the UK produces a similar number of spin-off companies to the US but registers fewer patents;
- none of our universities feature in the top 10 of Reuters Top 100: The World’s Most Innovative Universities – 2016, a list that ranks the educational institutions doing the most to advance science, invent new technologies and drive the global economy.