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A thorn in the side: launch of the UCL Centre for Gender and Global Health

By ucyow3c, on 6 March 2017


By Dr Geordan Shannon, UCL Institute for Global Health 

UCL is known for challenging the status quo. It was with this sentiment that the UCL Centre for Gender and Global Health was officially launched on the 16th February 2017.

Led by Professor Sarah Hawkes, the centre will reach beyond academia to work with policy-makers and policy-influencers to address the complex relationship between gender and health.

A global community of change makers and thought leaders converged to discuss innovations in gender and global health research. The daylong event included keynotes, interactive panels, film screenings, Q&A sessions and a networking reception.


Images: Ilan Kelman ilankelman.org


The keynote panellists spoke about key challenges to gender and global health research, policy and action.

Rachel Jewkes, the Director of the South African Medical Research Council’s Gender and Health Research Unit, shared new directions in gender-based violence interventions and highlighted feminist approaches to resilience.

Benno de Keijzer, Professor of Health and Masculinities at Universidad Veracruzana and co-founder of the NGO Salud y Género, challenged the concept of hegemonic masculinity and how it relates to both men’s and women’s wellbeing.


Metabolism & Society: A Symposium on Food, Culture, and Metabolic Health at the UCL Institute of Child Health

By ucyow3c, on 1 March 2017


By Paola Garcia-Trevijano, UCL Biomedical Sciences

Metabolism’s impact on society is such that the two are in constant interaction.  With this in mind, the Symposium on Food, Culture and Metabolic Health by Metabolism and Society on 16 February brought together a group of academics from several departments in UCL and the Francis Crick Institute.

Complex problems like metabolic disease require interdisciplinary solutions, and fostering such interactions was the goal of this innovative symposium.

Professor Frances Brodsky, Director of the Division of Biosciences, opened the symposium together with Professor Geraint Rees, Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences.Picture1

In addition to three keynote lectures, the day featured short talks followed by a panel focused on fostering potential interdisciplinary collaborations.

The symposium ended on a lighter note with Chris Shipton, a live illustrator, presenting the sketches he put together throughout the day.

At the close of the symposium, Professor David Price, Vice-Provost (Research), announced the creation of a new interdisciplinary Research Domain focused on food and metabolism.

Putting the balance back in diet: the nutritional geometry of metabolic disease

Professor Steve Simpson, academic director of the Charles Perkins Centre of the University of Sydney, showed that the tendency to stick to a constant protein intake contributes to over consumption in fats and carbohydrates, due to the introduction of ultra-processed foods.

A few solutions include intermittent fasting, protein appetite dampening drugs, and surprisingly, a diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates which, despite the associated weight gain, was shown to lead to the healthiest individuals.

Session 1 – Present: where are we now?

In the first session, Dr Paul Chadwick spoke on the importance of developing an efficient way of communicating with different populations affected by metabolic problems. He introduced the behaviour change wheel, which aims to provide a common approach.

Dr Joanne Santini, who presented her work on the effect of arsenic contaminated water on health and the human microbiome, identified the importance of behavioural counselling in preventing and dealing with arsenic poisoning as well as insulin resistance.

Professor Nishi Chaturvedi’s work has shown that different population characteristics suggest different causes behind insulin resistance, highlighting the importance of clinical treatment tailored to different populations.  In addition, linking research in insulin resistance and mitochondrial pathways to tumour research was deemed to be promising, with key connections between the work of Professor Michael Duchen and Dr Mariia Yuneva.

The taste of spoons and other inedible objects

Mark Miodownik, Director of the UCL Institute of Making, gave a keynote presentation on the way different materials influence the experience of eating: gold and chrome taste the most neutral, zinc the sweetest. All these features could be used to not only enhance our enjoyment of food but perhaps reduce the amounPicture2t of savoury, yet detrimental ingredients (e.g. sugar) that we over-indulge in.

Past: how did we get here?

This session focused on the past to look for guidance on how to shape the future to our benefit.

Evolution in terms of the metabolic network (Dr Markus Rasler) as well as in terms of our adaptation to diet throughout time (Professor Mark Thomas) were considered.

We can also learn from a shorter time frame by following obesity across generations (Professor Rebecca Hardy).

Professor Sue Hamilton discussed the idea of comparing our microbiome to that of the Easter Island population, which thrived with remarkable health and energy on very simple and restricted diets.  Dr Filipe Cabreiro presented his work on the gut microbiome, which the panel felt was an important part of metabolic health, and discussed ways this could be examined from ancient remains to modern humans.

Wellbeing@UCL launch event

By ucyow3c, on 26 January 2017

pencil-iconWritten by Faaiza Bokhari (UCL Occupational Health & Wellbeing)

UCL President & Provost, Professor Michael Arthur and Karen Smith, UCL Wellbeing Consultant

UCL President & Provost, Professor Michael Arthur
and Karen Smith, UCL Wellbeing Consultant

Wellbeing isn’t just about ourselves, but also about what we can do for others – this was something that UCL President & Provost, Professor Michael Arthur was keen to emphasise at the launch of Wellbeing@UCL – UCL’s five-year wellbeing strategy for the whole of the UCL community.

On 18 January, I attended the launch in the South Cloisters as a member of the UCL Occupational Health and Wellbeing team, which has been working on the wellbeing strategy as part of a new holistic approach to occupational health. More than 500 staff and students attended on the day, demonstrating the importance of wellbeing to our staff and students.

The buzz around the event was fantastic, and it was great to see so many people coming together for something that could prove really valuable to the community. Attendees were interested to find out more about UCL’s future plans, particularly the six ‘pillars’ of the Wellbeing@UCL strategy, and spending time on the Occupational Health and Wellbeing stand gave me the opportunity to connect with people one-on-one.


Game of clones – it’s who you know

By ucyow3c, on 12 December 2016


Written by Lucy Jordan, Communications Officer, UCL Psychology and Language Sciences

Why does it matter that we pick friends who are the same as us? Dr Katherine Woolf, Senior Lecturer in Medical Education at UCL, conducts research into fitting in and belonging and wants to know just this. As human beings, we need to belong and form interpersonal attachments. These bonds are of utmost importance for our happiness, success and health, but why are they, for the most part, to those so like ourselves? And what are the ramifications of this?

The audience is asked to think of a close friend who we have spoken to in the last few days and consider whether that friend has the same gender, nationality, ethnicity, religion and level of education as us. The majority chose someone with whom they have much overlap in these areas.

“I’ve done this exercise with lots of people all over the country, many times,” said Dr Woolf “and this is what we always see – people tend to be friends with people that they have lots in common with, and that in sociology is called homophily.”

Game of Clones