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UCL in the Middle East: crossing cultures

GuestBlogger21 September 2016

pencil-iconWritten by Sophie Vinter, Global Engagement Communications Officer

“When we talk about the Middle East we’re talking about many places and very different contexts – what goes for Qatar is not the same as for a refugee camp in Syria.”

The panel of the inaugural ‘UCL in the Middle East’ event nodded in agreement at the words of Dr Seth Anziska (UCL Hebrew and Jewish Studies), who was joining in a lively discussion by Skype from the USA.

Jonathan Dale (right) talks with attendees at UCL in the Middle East

Jonathan Dale (right) talks with attendees at UCL in the Middle East

Focusing on a range of contemporary issues – ranging from urban development and cultural heritage to healthcare and education – ‘UCL in the Middle East’ was the second regional-specific event that had been organised by Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu, Pro-Vice-Provost (Africa & the Middle East) and the Global Engagement Office. The first event, Knowledge Africa, took place in June.

Open to academics and professional services staff from around the university, these events have offered the opportunity to hear from a range of speakers, network and take part in panel discussions to share ideas and learn more about UCL’s collaborations in a specific area of the world.

Questions from the audience encouraged thought-provoking debate on some hot topics in the Middle East, including the balance of encouraging entrepreneurship while also allowing for intellectual property ownership and the idea of post-conflict ‘interventionism’.

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Leading researchers debate survival to 22nd century at It’s All Academic Campaign launch

GuestBlogger16 September 2016

pencil-icon Written by Abigail Smith, Head of Supporter Communications – Office of the Vice-Provost (Development)

Some of UCL’s leading academics joined together last night for a public event to answer the question “How Will Society Survive to the 22nd Century?” at the launch of It’s All Academic – UCL’s biggest ever philanthropic giving campaign.

With a target of £600m, the Campaign aims to raise more money and engage more people with UCL and our work than ever before.

UCL President & Provost Michael Arthur announces the Campaign total

UCL President & Provost Michael Arthur announces the Campaign total

The launch event brought nearly 1,000 people to UCL’s Logan Hall to hear what the future might hold from a great line up of speakers, chaired by ITN Economics Editor and UCL alumna and honorary professor Noreena Hertz.

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Lunch Hour Lecture: Bones, mummies, tuberculosis and ancient DNA

EllaRichards18 March 2016

As World Tuberculosis Day approaches on 24 March, Dr Helen Donoghue (UCL Clinical Microbiology) ends this term’s series of Lunch Hour Lectures by looking back at 9,000 year old tuberculosis DNA.

MTB

MTB via Flickr

What is tuberculosis 

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) that spread via aerosol and primarily affects the lungs.

Although there are current health scares about antibiotic-resistant strains of TB, due to modern sanitation, vaccination programmes and antibiotics there have not been any major TB epidemics in the UK in the 21st century. However, it is currently estimated that one third of the world’s population is infected with various strains of MTB. These infections often pass under the radar because the majority of them are latent, meaning that the infected person does not have any symptoms of the disease.

TB is one of the world’s oldest diseases, in part due to this high level of latency. There are multiple strains of MTB, all associated with differing areas of the globe. What is striking about these strains is that people with TB generally carry the strain of MTB associated with their ethnic origin, despite their current location.

For Dr Donoghue, this is evidence that MTB has evolved with humans. She argued that in the Neolithic and Palaeolithic periods, when humans lived in small populations, pathogens that were highly infectious and killed their hosts quickly failed to survive as they would simply wipe out tribes. In contrast, MTB’s combination of high latency rates and virulence means that carriers transmit the disease before dying.

What’s more, evolving with humans has meant that there are numerous strains of extinct MTB, as well as extant MTB. The research conducted by Dr Donoghue and her team means that new methods are being perfected to analyse these extinct, ancient strains. (more…)

Lunch Hour Lecture: Ovarian cancer screening — the long journey

EllaRichards15 March 2016

Will effective screening for ovarian cancer, one of the most common cancers affecting women, ever become a reality?

A group of researchers started to reach for this goal more than 30 years ago. As Professor Usha Menon (UCL Institute for Women’s Health) explained in her Lunch Hour Lecture, determining a method of diagnosing early stage ovarian cancer is almost in touching distance.

What is ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer is cancer of the ovaries and fallopian tubes, and it is the fifth most common cause of cancer-related deaths in women in Europe.

Unfortunately most ovarian cancer patients do not have clear symptoms in the early stages of the disease, meaning that 55% of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed in stage III or IV, when the cancer is harder to treat.

Moreover, there is a 90% survival rate when ovarian cancer is diagnosed at stage I, however only a 5% to 20% survival rate for five years when diagnosed at stage III or IV. (more…)