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UCL Infection, Immunology and Inflammation (III) Symposium 2016

ucyow3c23 November 2016

pencil-iconWritten by Simon Guillaumé, PhD Student, London Interdisciplinary Doctoral training programme

On Tuesday 8 November, over 300 leading researchers from top London institutions gathered at the UCL Institute of Education for the annual UCL Infection, Immunology and Inflammation (III) Symposium, hosted by UCL in partnership with Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), UCLPartners and the National Institute for Health Research BRC Infection, Immunity and Inflammation (III) Programme.

Professor Hans Stauss (UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation), opened the Symposium by highlighting the impact of the research presented annually.

Integration of pathogen and human genomic sequencing

Professor Judith Breuer (UCL Division of Infection & Immunity) started the session by presenting her latest research on the pathology of Varicella Zoster Virus (the cause of chickenpox and shingles), which will help alleviate the side effects of VZV vaccines.

Following an overview of the human oral microbiome by Professor William Wade (Blizard Institute, Queen Mary University of London), Professor Harry Hemingway (UCL Institute of Health Informatics) reviewed Big Data sources available to UK biomedical researchers, including some recent examples of large-scale health record mining used in biomedical research.

Basic immunology

Starting off the second session, Dr Melania Capasso (Barts Cancer Institute, QMUL) highlighted the importance of proton channel interactions in supporting tumour growth.

After reminding the room that “ageing, well, is inevitable…”, Professor Arne Akbar (UCL Division of Infection & Immunity) gave us a glimmer of hope by presenting his current research on T-cell ageing.

The last presentation of the morning was Dr Benedict Seddon’s (UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation) appetising ‘Sauces and mixtures – recipe for long term maintenance of CD4 memory’. His research brings us a step closer to understanding how CD4 cells regulate immune memory.

Symposium III 2

Early Career Researchers presentations

Following the networking break, six early career researchers from UCL and QMUL enthralled us with presentations of their research. These presentations give early career researchers the opportunity to gain greater visibility and to make their research knownto the scientific community already established in the field.

The first prize for the best early career researcher presentation was awarded to Dr Neil McCarthy (Blizard Institute, QMUL), for his presentation on ‘Human antigen-presenting yd T-cells promote IL-22 production in naïve and intestinal memory CD4+ T-cells in a TNF-alpha and ICOSL-dependent manner’. (more…)

UCL Ageing event

ucyow3c15 November 2016

pencil-iconWritten by Dr Emma Chambers, Research Associate in the Division of Infection and Immunity

 The United Kingdom has an ageing population and by 2025, one in four people will be over the age of 65. Unfortunately with increasing age there is not increasing ‘healthspan’, and actually people are now living unhealthy for longer.

With increasing age come increasing health problems, as people over the age of 65 have an increased risk of infections such as flu and shingles, as well as an increased risk of having dementia; this collectively places a huge burden on our already stretched NHS.

At the UCL Ageing Event – cultivating research connections across the university, arranged by the UCL Populations and Lifelong Health Domain and held on Thursday 3 November 2016, researchers from across UCL came together to discuss what we can do to age better.

Attendees heard first from Dr Jenny Regan (Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment) who works on the common fruit fly. Apparently, the fruit fly ages similarly to humans, with decreased mobility, increased infections and memory loss.

Dr Regan told us that the key to a longer life is to be female – a bit unfortunate for half of the population! Secondly, you need to have a calorie restricted diet, though this does not enhance the lifespan of a male fruit fly.

Dr Milica Vukmanovic-Stejic (Division of Infection and Immunity) introduced us to her human skin model where the lab studies white blood cells (immune system) in the skin of old and young people to establish if there are any differences that can explain why older people are more at risk of shingles. (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…)

Lunch Hour Lecture: From gases to gloops – instabilities in fluids

Thomas Hughes25 February 2016

Gases, gloops, waves and cloud formations: Dr Helen Wilson (UCL Mathematics) helped us explore the mathematical explanation for such instabilities in fluids in this Lunch Hour Lecture.

Waves and drips: instabilities in nature

Instabilities in fluids can be caused by a myriad of different factors.  Dr Wilson talked us through a number of common instabilities that we can see in our everyday lives.

Waves and some cloud formations for example are caused by shear. This is the idea of two or more streams moving at different speeds or directions. This is called the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability and creates the familiar wave shapes as the streams push in different directions.

Some natural instabilities are caused by density. Pour a dense, gloopy fluid into a less dense fluid and through additional factors such as gravity, the denser fluid will move through the less dense fluid. This is called the Rayleigh-Taylor instability (see image).

Rayleigh-Taylor Instability via Wikimedia Commons

Rayleigh Taylor Instability via Wikimedia Commons

(more…)