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 Andrew Quigley, Post-Doctoral Researcher at the University of Oxford
“Voice of the Future is a very unusual event” says Dr Stephen Benn, Director of Parliamentary Affairs at the Royal Society of Biology. There is no event quite like it anywhere else in Parliament, possibly the world. How often do young representatives of professional bodies get the opportunity to sit in for a Parliamentary Committee and question MPs about science policy issues that matter to them? But that is exactly the chance that I and 50 other young scientists and engineers were given. Continue reading →
Currently, there is much interest in the ageing brain and how people can take measures to counteract the decline in mental function that appears to be an inevitable consequence of growing older. The World Health Organization predicts that between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population aged over 60 will nearly double, from 12% to 22%. So more people are living for longer, meaning that age-related disease and disability is a major and escalating concern for society.
The term ‘cognitive decline’ is often used to describe the deterioration in some aspects of brain function that occurs with age. Dementia is used to define a decline in mental ability that is severe enough to interfere with daily life. It is characterized by memory loss and by difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or communicating. There are several causes of dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common type, followed by vascular dementia. Continue reading →
By Dr Shane Hegarty, University College Cork, Ireland
The brain is responsible for our experience of, and acts as the interface between, the self and the outside world. Everything we think, feel, remember and dream is written by a precisely-interconnected community of approximately 100 billion brain cells. Have you ever wondered where the different types of neurons in our brain originate from? Or how these brain cells then find their way to connect with other cells, up to a metre away in our body? These answers can be found in the developing brain, which arises from the microscopic, but miraculous, embryo.
Creation of our brain
Very early in human development, the embryo consists simply of three fundamental cell layers: outer ectoderm (becomes outer-body parts e.g. skin/hair/teeth); middle mesoderm (develops into muscles, bones and blood vessels); and inner endoderm (forms our inner-body compartments e.g. gut/lungs). That’s most of our body covered, but where does our brain come from? Continue reading →
By Emma Pettengale, Commissioning Editor, Portland Press
The United States Census Bureau says that although women make up nearly half of the working population, they remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) occupations. In the UK, the Women in the STEM workforce (WISE) campaign strives to achieve gender balance in the sector. Recent figures from WISE (Nov 2016) show that while there have been some increases, women still only make up 21% of the Core STEM workforce in the UK. Globally, women make up an average of 28.4% of those employed in scientific research and development according to a recent report. There is a need to encourage and support women in STEM, and the Biochemical Society and Portland Press actively supports female members of the life science community in their goals.
I asked a selection of female scientists from across a range of fields to talk to us about what drew them to science and the female scientists that they most admire. Continue reading →