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Lunch Hour Lecture: Ovarian cancer screening — the long journey

Ella Richards15 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…)

Lunch Hour Lecture: Reproduction without sex — what does technology have to offer?

Ella Richards15 March 2016

Professor Joyce Harper’s (UCL Institute for Women’s Health) International Women’s Day Lunch Hour Lecture discussed the often taboo subject of scientific involvement in reproduction, why people choose to reproduce without sex and how science can solve reproductive issues.

joyce-harper

Professor Joyce Harper

Why is there an increased focus on reproduction without sex?

Professor Harper was blunt: “Unfortunately, as women, we aren’t well designed. As you sit here, in this lecture theatre, you are becoming more and more infertile with every minute that slips by, and after 35 years your fertility decreases significantly. By 42, it is very difficult to get pregnant, by 45 it is almost impossible.”

“Evolution has not kept up with feminism.” Across the world, and especially in developed countries such as the UK, women are delaying having children until their 30s. Twenty-first century opportunities mean that women are busy doing other things in their 20s, such as travelling and enjoying their career, rather than settling down and having children at the age that their mothers or grandmothers did.

This means that when women try to get pregnant in their 30s they are often surprised by reproductive issues and they come to IVF clinics at an average age of 38. (more…)

SEVEN the play

Siobhan Pipa11 March 2015

Professor Peter Brocklehurst at SEVEN (Courtesy of Ben Sharman)

Professor Peter Brocklehurst at SEVEN
(Courtesy of Ben Sharman)

As part of a series of events to celebrate International Women’s Day at UCL, the UCL Institute for Women’s Health put on a special production of SEVEN – a documentary play based on the lives of seven inspirational women from seven countries around the world.

Presented as a reading, seven of the most senior men at UCL lent their voices to the female activists: Professor Michael Arthur (UCL President & Provost), Professor Sir John Tooke (Vice Provost, Health and Head of UCL School of Life & Medical Sciences), Professor David Lomas (Vice Provost-elect, Health and Dean of Medical Sciences), Professor Anthony Smith (Vice Provost, Education & Student Affairs), Professor Alejandro Madrigal (Pro Vice Provost for the America’s), Professor Peter Brocklehurst (Director, UCL Institute for Women’s Health) and Professor Anthony Costello (Pro Vice Provost for Africa & the Middle East and Director of the UCL Institute for Global Health).

The play, which was directed by Tove Eriksson and organised by Asma Ashraf and Professor Judith Stephenson (UCL Institute for Women’s Health), depicts how these women overcame extreme adversity to become leaders for women’s rights, both within their own society and globally.

(more…)

The big question: too many people on the planet?

Katherine Aitchison17 May 2013

Earth, courtesy of Kevin M Gill on Flickr

Earth, courtesy of Kevin M
Gill on Flickr

There are currently 6.9 billion people living on our planet and with that figure set to rise, many people are worried about how long the Earth will be able to sustain us all and cope with the damage that we are inflicting on it.

The UCL Grant Museum of Zoology has a “case of extinction” featuring, among others, dodo and Tasmanian wolf (thylacine) specimens. Both of these species were hunted to extinction by humans and since their deaths many other species have faced the same fate. Which led Dean Veall, the museum’s learning and access officer, to ask the Big Question: are there too many people on the planet?

When the question was first posed to a packed JZ Young lecture theatre, after a glass of wine and a mooch around the Grant Museum’s always fascinating collection, the answer from the crowd was a resounding ‘yes’. But over the course of the night, we stood to have our opinions tested and potentially changed.

(more…)