Apr 24

Impressions from the March for Science in London

I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting before I left my flat this Saturday to join fellow scientists and science-fans on the March for Science in London. Demonstrations against Brexit and the Women’s March earlier this year were still on my mind, I guess, and probably contributed to my anticipation of large crowds. When we all assembled in front of the Science Museum to set off on the march I quickly began to realize that science is, after all, a niche interest and the current anti-science climate hardly considered a big societal issue. Least of all by the media – during the march I frequently checked the BBC and Guardian websites, only to discover that none of the reporting made the front page.

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Permanent link to this article: http://curiousaboutscience.net/march-for-science-london/

Feb 10

Journals grant free access to all research on Zika virus

The road is clear for Zika research… all papers will be free to access. (c) DeathToStock

It seems every year we learn another lesson from viral epidemics. Last year the so far largest and most deleterious Ebola epidemic provoked an WHO-initiated overhaul of regulatory policies, aimed at accelerating the testing of treatments and vaccines that have shown promise in animals during times of crisis. The rVSV-ZEBOV trial was one of the results of this initiative and the success of the vaccine exceptional.

For new emerging pathogens, such as the Zika virus, the focus should now be on early strategic measures. Repeatedly during the last years, scientists and medics alike have pointed out the need for unrestricted data sharing during a disease outbreak to enable instant access to all available resources and knowledge. Now it seems publishers and health care organisations are finally ready to follow suit.

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Permanent link to this article: http://curiousaboutscience.net/journals-grant-free-access-research-zika-virus/

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,


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


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/

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