Feb 07

EU influence on UK science

There are many reasons why academics are dreading the possibility of a Brexit: the loss of EU science funding is one of them, access to highly qualified lab personnel another. Euroskeptics keep insisting that we invest more than we get out. But how much does the UK actually contribute to EU research programmes – and what do they get back for their money? And how might that change after Brexit?

A few days ago the Guardian published a commentary by Julian Huppert on how EU membership benefits UK science and why these perks shouldn’t be given up too readily. He is echoing what many academics think these days, however, the wider population tends to see things less differentiated, as various responses from euroskeptics on reddit indicated. I do not intend to make this post about the referendum or argue too much about why I think the UK should remain in the EU. But I thought, as an ex scientist, I could at least offer my viewpoint on how the EU has influenced UK science over the last decade. I know it’s easy to forget in the heat of the moment, but EU science funding has achieved many proud milestones over the last years and we shouldn’t be too hasty to push them all aside.

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Permanent link to this article: http://curiousaboutscience.net/eu-influence-uk-science/

Jan 31

Back in business – Happy 2016!

After a lengthy break this blog is now back in business and will be updated on a weekly basis.

As before, anything scientific goes. However, as I’ve now taken up a job in science publishing, I also intend to cover issues that are more broadly science-related, such as science policy, publishing and perhaps the connection to industry as well. We will see what this year brings, but I very much look forward to spending more time on articles again and I hope you will find my selected range of topics interesting. As always, if you have any feedback or preferences for areas to focus on: let me know.

(c) DeathtoStock

(c) DeathtoStock

To get you started, check out the newly updated About page or have a look at my science writing and publications elsewhere.

Thanks for stopping by,

Christine

And of course: all views presented here are entirely my own and not those of my employers.

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Permanent link to this article: http://curiousaboutscience.net/back-in-business/

Mar 19

Three-parent babies

One child - two genetic mothers? Photo by David Castillo Dominici.

One child – two genetic mothers? Photo by David Castillo Dominici.

In a recent clinical exam, I came across a patient with a disease called Kearns-Sayer syndrome. I examined him and found he had a complex ophthalomeglia (paralysis of the eye muscles causing problems with vision) and was mentally handicapped – amongst other clinical signs and symptoms – but I still could not come to the diagnosis mentioned above. After spectacularly failing this exam, I looked up this so-called Kearns-Sayer syndrome and read with interest that this was among a collection of rare diseases called the mitochondrial diseases.

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Permanent link to this article: http://curiousaboutscience.net/three-parent-babies/

Feb 18

I have a bad gut feeling about this

E.Coli

Recently, a good friend of mine told me about his – now ex – girlfriend and how she ended the relationship based on a “gut feeling”. I wonder if that girl was aware of the big excitement that is currently flooding media and scientific literature regarding this topic. Well, not the break-up but the influence of the gut on human life, health and even decision making. More precisely, the influence of the microbiome, the vast population of microorganisms living in the gut and other organs.

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://curiousaboutscience.net/i-have-a-bad-gut-feeling-about-this/

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/blood-can-turn-back-aging-clock/

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/phd-job-options/

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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