Jan 27

It’s all in the blood: Can we turn back the aging clock?

Blood from a young mouse might contain an answer to one of the oldest questions of humankind.

When Paul Bert, a French physiologist, started to stitch mice together in 1864 he probably wasn’t thinking about the fountain of youth. His main interest was in animal grafting; the way tissue transplants could survive away from the body and affect a biological system (1).

Bert’s successful attempts in parabiosis, the surgical joining of two entire living animals, should establish whether tissue grafts from one animal could also be used on the joined animal and what the immunological implications were. Besides, this experiment also proved that blood from one mouse circulated freely into the other mouse and an “extended physiological and pathological connection result[ed] from the vascular connection”.

About 150 years later, these experiments are once again picked up by scientists. But this time they inspire a whole new scientific discipline: the understanding of aging.

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Permanent link to this article: http://curiousaboutscience.net/?p=493

Jan 19

After your PhD: What job options are out there?

Am I ever going to find a job?

Am I ever going to find a job?

Following on from the previous article, there are many things PhD students learn to be good at. Obviously it’s easiest to stay in the field and setting you’ve already been trained in, which means you apply for a post-doc position with focus on your preferred field of research. But for all of those who don’t perceive academia as a promising future it is often difficult to see what else is available. Even though only a 19% minority of PhD students still stays in academic research 3 years after graduating, it seems to be a mystery where their former colleagues disappear to. Alternative career options typically aren’t advertised during a standard PhD programme. Why?

Universities certainly don’t want to miss out on their brightest heads. But the other reason is that many high-profile jobs might not even be advertised at all. You are supposed to look for them to show the employers that you are serious about getting hired. That you are willing to do what is necessary to get their attention.

Today’s blog entry is the second part of my series about non-academic jobs. I’ll kick it off with a few examples of roles suitable for PhDs and will continue with it next week. 


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Permanent link to this article: http://curiousaboutscience.net/?p=446

Jan 14

Making the right move after your PhD

Am I ever going to find a job?

Am I ever going to find a job?

Today I’ve submitted the final corrections for my thesis. It’s been the last step in a long journey towards the doctoral degree. And what a journey it has been!

Looking back I am extremely grateful and glad that I had the chance to go through with it, despite numerous obstacles and doubts on the way, which, I am sure, will be most familiar to many PhD students out there.

It’s not a secret that our kind faces its own challenges: false expectations, inadequate supervision, financial issues, competitive environments, the downward spiral of academic careers and lack of information about alternatives are just a few of them. For me the biggest concern in the last two years was probably the question what I would do after my PhD. Again, no surprise.

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Permanent link to this article: http://curiousaboutscience.net/?p=399

Nov 26

Introducing Shivan, a new contributor on Curious About Science


It’s my pleasure to introduce you to one of my science friends back from the days when we were both working at the CR-UK Cambridge Institute. In addition to being a researcher, Shivan is also a trained medical doctor in oncology – and a big fan of science communication. He will be a regular contributor from now on, aiming to introduce you to a variety of science topics in the clinical and life sciences. In this first blog post he will tell you more about his reasons for blogging.

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Permanent link to this article: http://curiousaboutscience.net/?p=295

Oct 13

Cell reprogramming: a new era

MParmer_Reprog_neurons(2)I recently had the opportunity to produce an article about cell identity & reprogramming together with the Eurostemcell team, Thomas Graf and Austin Smith.

Our body contains several hundred different types of specialised cells. Each cell has very specific features that enable it to do its job. Yet every cell in your body contains the same genes – the same biological ‘instruction book’. So what makes each type of cell different? And can we control or change cell identities? How might this help us develop new approaches to medicine?

Read the whole article here.


Permanent link to this article: http://curiousaboutscience.net/?p=283

Sep 15

Science Gallery London

-1_0Did you ever have the feeling that certain scientific findings have amazing parallels to art? Do you see beauty in data sets? The wonder of biology in magnified microscopic images?

Then perhaps the Science Gallery London will interest you. The gallery, which is said to open next year, is working with researchers, students, local communities and artists to contribute ideas and experiments, demonstrate the impact and importance of scientific findings and inspire a new way of thinking. Being a part of the Global Science Gallery Network, Science Gallery London will have no permanent collection but a changing range of exhibitions about current social issues and science themes.

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Permanent link to this article: http://curiousaboutscience.net/?p=277

Aug 17

The science of getting drunk


At the end of last year the media was full of articles about Professor David Nutt’s proposal to develop a drug that mimics the effect of alcohol without creating a hangover. Not surprisingly, this caused  major discussions. Besides the legal concerns of replacing alcohol with another psychoactive drug, his suggestion came attached to a call for funding which was seen as a cheeky lobbying attempt by some.

Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, is certainly right when he claims that western society has a problem with alcohol consumption. Alcohol is one of the oldest but also most harmful drugs, responsible for ~2.5 million deaths each year, according to the WHO. But because it is so immersed in our culture and has been around forever, people tend to turn a blind eye. As Prof Nutt says: “If alcohol was discovered today it could never be sold as it is far too toxic to be allowed under current food regulations”.

We’re still happy to put up with its after-effects if that means we can enjoy a night of excitement, uninhibited pleasure and jauntiness. But would we still drink alcohol if we could experience most of the positive effects without next day’s hangover? What exactly is it that alcohol, or more accurately ethanol, does to our brains? 

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Permanent link to this article: http://curiousaboutscience.net/?p=71

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