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UCL Prize Lecture in Clinical Science

GuestBlogger28 October 2016

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Written by UCL MBPhD student Callum Donaldson

Professor François Barré-Sinoussi was the well-deserved recipient of this year’s UCL Clinical Prize Lecture award.

In 1966, Professor Barré-Sinoussi began her undergraduate studies in Natural Sciences at the University of Paris. Following this, she undertook a PhD project with Jean-Claude Chermann at the Pasteur Institute, studying a retrovirus capable of inducing leukaemia in mice.

After obtaining her PhD in 1974, Professor Barré-Sinoussi decided to travel to the United States to begin a post-doctoral fellowship with Bob Bassin at the NIH. The main aim of the project was to identify the viral target of murine leukaemia virus (MLV) restriction factor Fv1.

Professor François Barré-Sinoussi and Professor Michael Arthur

Professor François Barré-Sinoussi and Professor Michael Arthur

After a year at the NIH, Professor Barré-Sinoussi returned to Paris to continue investigating the relationship between retroviruses and cancer.

In the early 1980s clinicians were faced with the emergence of a frightening new epidemic, now known as AIDS. Perplexed clinicians in Paris contacted virologists at the Pasteur Institute asking them for their assistance in identifying the responsible pathogen.

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Sex work today: myths, morals and health

JamesHeather10 December 2012

World AIDS Day fell on 1 December, providing a fitting backdrop for the latest Lunch Hour Lecture, on the sex industry. Or perhaps it’s not that fitting, as UCL sociologist Professor Graham Scambler set out to dispel some common misconceptions about sex workers.

Professor Scambler has spent a number of years studying the health issues, sociological factors and stigmas attached to the world’s oldest profession, and in this talk presented data gathered largely in, or relating to, London.

Society holds a great many conceptions about sex workers, a large number of which are both offensive and – more importantly – incorrect, and this lecture started by debunking some of the most pervasive.

Starting with sexually transmitted infections (STIs), he revealed that sex workers are not always at higher risk, as research undertaken in London in 1993 revealed.

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A grey area: do the elderly hold the key to tackling non-communicable disease?

newseditor6 December 2012

The Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London.

Written by Amelia Tait of the UCL Institute for Global Health.

On Tuesday 4 December, the Attlee Suite in the Houses of Parliament was filled to the brim with more than 140 audience members, policy makers, and global health experts from around the world meeting to discuss the growing global burden of non-communicable diseases.

Professor Anthony Costello, Director of UCL’s Institute for Global health, chaired the debate and opened by remarking that the “wicked problem” of NCDs accounts for 63% of deaths worldwide.

Non-communicable or lifestyle diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes are medical conditions of a non-infectious nature, and – in Costello’s words – are “the biggest killer of people in the world”.

Learning from HIV?

The panel’s experts led a debate on the ways in which the NCD movement can learn from the precedents set by the HIV/AIDS movement in the 1980s.

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HIV: from pathogen to ally

Clare SRyan12 December 2011

The HIV virus is one of the world’s most deadly killers. We are now 30 years into a global pandemic and the estimated number of deaths from AIDS worldwide is around 24 million, with a further 33 million currently living with HIV.

But that’s not the whole story. To commemorate World AIDS Day, Professor Mary CollinsLunch Hour Lecture presented a radical idea: using the HIV virus as a new medicine.

Although the thought of injecting HIV doesn’t immediately sound like an appealing prospect, there are quite a few convincing arguments as to why it’s a good idea, and of course, virologists go in for a bit of genetic jiggery-pokery before coming at you with a needle.
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