Test CircleCount PRO now!
Login now

Not your profile? Login and get free access to your reports and analysis.

Tags

Sign in

The following tags have been added by users of CircleCount.com.
You can login on CircleCount to add more tags here.

  • biology
  • Bloggers
  • GooglePlus
  • Hangout
  • HangoutsOnAir
  • research
  • Science
  • Scientists

Are you missing a tag in the list of available tags? You can suggest new tags here.

Login now

Do you want to see a more detailed chart? Check your settings and define your favorite chart type.

Or click here to get the detailed chart only once.

Buddhini Samarasinghe has been at 14 events

HostFollowersTitleDateGuestsLinks
Google Science Fair3,141,669The team from PaleoQuest has an unbelievable find: A 300-pound fossil skull found 25 feet underwater in a swamp! How did they find it? How did they get it out? What does it look like? And how do you put together a survey and recovery team of geologists and paleontologists? Sign up on this event page, ask questions using Q&A, then come watch LIVE. Tuesday, July 21, 12:30PM PT / 3:30PM ET / 1930 GMTA 300-pound Fossil Skull in a Swamp? Come hear about citizen science in action!2015-07-21 21:30:0075  
Joanne Manaster120,765Physicist Monica Dunford is an Enrico Fermi Fellow from the University of Chicago who works on the Large Hadron Collider's ATLAS experiment. She appeared in the movie Particle Fever and will join me to talk about the movie, particle physics and being a woman in physics! Her blog is at http://uslhc.us/blogs/. It will air at 9am CDT.Interview with Particle Fever's Monica Dunford2014-07-02 16:00:0035  
Joanne Manaster120,765Join us as @104733415626297507218 and Joanne Manaster chat with @112026058728255591897 and @106544067325247750869 about their book, "Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program" on Monday, June 23 at noon EDT, 11 CDT. Read Science! "Marketing the Moon" Edition2014-06-23 18:00:0018  
Joanne Manaster120,765Join @104733415626297507218  and +Joanne Manaster for this episode of @115923395996980624785 where their guest @109710318485682657052 tells us all about teaching the general public a bit of physics here and there. Oh, and all dogs are welcome!   Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 12:30pm EDT, 11:30 CDT --About one hour longRead Science! "My Dog Knows Physics" Episode2014-06-19 19:30:0035  
Billy Wilson1,547,174Joined by: -Molecular Biologist @108510686109338749229 (http://google.com/+BuddhiniSamarasinghe). -UK YouTuber @110236382352836465650 (http://youtube.com/FransFlogs). -Photographer @113312804462990112705.  -Photographer @104306683219947597418 (http://myeyedelight.com). -Australian Musical Guest @106944233130422515220 (http://google.com/+KristianJacksonmusic) finishing the last 16 minutes of the hour off with some live music. The show is live on Friday at 4pm ET/8pm for the UK here & on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnW07rKCHLA (time zone converter http://goo.gl/3itW5). @108595299975404341987 brings together Artists, Musicians, Photographers, Personalities, & all sorts of fun and interesting people from around the world each Friday for a hangout and is one of the largest & longest running shows on G+. You can watch previous episodes here: http://goo.gl/ceHtH Find Me Elsewhere:  Google+: https://google.com/+billywilson Twitter: https://twitter.com/BillyWilson14 Facebook: http://facebook.com/BillyWilsond   Photography: http://flickr.com/photos/billy_wilson/sets Site/Blog: http://thebillywilson.com Help support me, my family, projects, & show on Patreon: http://patreon.com/billywilson or Donate on Paypal: https://paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=E74U8G8TZKYDJ #TSBW#103 European Edition: Fun, Discussion, & Live Music from Kristian Jackson2014-03-21 21:00:0022  
Hubble Space Telescope8,056,193The #Hubble Space Telecope is poised to provide us with new images of Comet #ISON as it approaches the inner solar system.  In the coming months, we'll get views of the comet from a perspective only #Hubble can provide. Here's the url to the #ISON  blog: http://hubblesite.org/go/ison The approach of this comet has generated a lot of excitement, it is going to pass extremely close to the sun and when it does, astronomers tell us this may be among the brightest comets we've ever seen hanging in our night sky. Or will it be a dud? Well, we're going to talk about that and a whole lot more: Is it going to hit us? Where did it come from? How big is it? What's it made of? What's so great about comets anyway? What if it breaks up?  Will the pieces hit us? How can I get a comet named after me? Is Scott's head a comet nucleus? Please join +Tony Darnell, +Alberto Conti and +Scott Lewis as they discuss these and any other questions you can think to ask to some of the planetary scientists working at the Space Telescope Science Institute. We'll have +Max Mutchler , Dr. +Bonnie Meinke and Dr. Jian-Yang Li on hand to tell us what Hubble is expected to see, how it will see it and we'll also go into the topic of comets in general. +Zolt Levay Will also be onhand to discuss recent Hubble images of ISON. Hope to see you there! #hubblehangout_jul17The Hubble Space Telescope and Comet ISON2013-07-17 22:00:52259  
Scott Lewis382,986Have you ever wondered what it's like to give a TEDx talk? How about working at M.I.T.? What sort of excitement comes with working on a project that allows people from across the globe to map neurons through a video game? Come find out when +Buddhini Samarasinghe and +Scott Lewis interview +Amy Robinson! Buddhini and Scott will be together in San Diego hosting this special Google+ Hangout On Air interview with Amy from +Sebastian Seung's computational neuroscience lab at MIT.  This Hangout On Air will be broadcast live and recorded to YouTube. If you have any questions or comments for Amy or the hosts, please feel free to leave them here on the event page, through the live Google+ shares, via YouTube or on Twitter using the hashtag #ktcHangout .  Buddhini's Twitter:@DrHalfPintBuddy Scott's Twitter:@BaldAstronomer Amy's Twitter:@AmyLeeRobinson #HangoutsOnAir   #ScienceSunday   #ScienceEveryday   #CitizenScience   #TEDx   #OpenScience   #WomenInSTEM   #ktc20130616   #Science   #STEM   #Neuroscience   #MIT  Interview with Amy Robinson | ktc2013-06-16 23:00:0056  
ScienceSunday87,101Join hosts +Buddhini Samarasinghe and +Scott Lewis  for another “SciSunHOA”, a live Google+ Hangout On Air broadcast, brought to you by +ScienceSunday. This episode, Professor +Vincent Racaniello joins Buddhini and Scott to discuss his work in virology. Vincent is a professor of microbiology and immunology at Columbia University. His research includes the study of poliovirus (Polio), rhinovirus (Common Cold), and other RNA viruses. His work focuses on how our immune systems interact with these viruses, how they cause disease, while also discovering new viruses in wild animals. Outside of the lab, Vincent is involved in many science outreach efforts, including hosting the excellent podcast series This Week in Virology (TWiV). You can read more on his website here (http://www.virology.ws/) We’re all very excited for this episode of “SciSunHOA” as Vincent is not only a brilliant scientist, but also an outstanding science communicator! Questions for Vincent, Buddhini and Scott can be left here in the event page, as well as during the live show through the shares of the HOA, including on Twitter using the hash tag: #SciSunHOA  Going Viral: #SciSun Hangout on Air featuring Vincent Racaniello2013-04-29 00:00:0058  
Scott Lewis382,986Many forces were joined in order to perform outreach at South By Southwest for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute worked with Ball Aerospace, Northrop Grumman, University of Texas and CosmoQuest in order to engage and interact with the public in Austin, TX. On Saturday, 9th March, 2013, +Tony Darnell, +Fraser Cain, +Pamela Gay, +Frank Summers and myself and possibly some others will also join forces from the +NASA Experience Tent at South By Southwest in order to discuss the amazing and exciting things that are happening today and the future in *space exploration and discovery*. We'll do our best to answer any questions live as they're asked in the event.  If you're in the Austin area, please feel free to stop by afterwards to come talk with the entire group! The NASA Experience Tent will be opening at 12 noon, with talks being given all day with an _extremely_ large visual wall that's ~18 Million wide by 10 million pixels tall that will be showing off World Wide Telescope Tours of the Milky Way Galaxy.  +CosmoQuest +NASA Webb Telescope +Space Fans  #SXSWi   #SXSW   #HangoutsOnAir   #SXSW2013   #ScienceEveryday   #Space   #Science   #Astronomy  South by Southwest Space Science Hangout2013-03-09 10:00:00104  
CosmoQuest42,532Join +Fraser Cain and our rotating round of space journalists and aficionados as we round up the last week in space news. Weekly Space Hangout2013-03-01 21:00:00160  
Ron Garan3,920,619Come join Italian Air Force fighter pilot and European Space Agency astronaut @112628950566484266163 and I for a G+ hangout this Friday at 10:30am Central. Let's talk space and Samantha's upcoming mission to the International Space Station as a crew member of Expedition 42! @116214152295449083654 Hangout with Astronauts Samantha Cristoforetti & Ron Garan2013-01-18 10:30:00294  
Billy Wilson1,547,174Another Episode of my weekly G+ variety show @108595299975404341987 ! The show is one of the largest & longest running on G+ and brings together a variety of the most interesting people on G+ for a hangout! This week is a Science Special in honour of DeSTEMber that Google has been doing this month and we'll be joined by Molecular Biologist @108510686109338749229; Psychology Professor @102953771827580749160; Astronomer & Researcher @109479143173251353583; Scientist & Engineer @107896084561441926092; @106123026171763346651; and Special Musical Guest @106481981826916607971 ! The show will be embedded on this event where you can watch and chat with us and other people watching the show, the recording will be available immediately afterwards. You can get reminders about the show if you RVSP by saying you're "Going". @111188574736819390850 loves to share screenshots of himself posted to the event!  You can watch previous episodes here: http://goo.gl/ceHtH The video is embedded above! TSBW Variety Show #39: Science Special with Live Music from Meri Amber ! (On Air Hangout)2012-12-29 04:00:00104  
Peter Lake9,913To celebrate #deSTEMber  a star will wink at you from the other side of the universe. In a world first we are going to bring a live exo-planet transit (weather permitting) to a Google Plus Hangout. If we are successful we'll just have to have another go at the earliest opportunity. In support of #deSTEMber +girlstart and +google science fair, we'll spend 2 hours talking about exo-planets, whilst operating a 0.5m telescope remotely and updating the data as we go. This is real science live in action. The LIVE STREAM Link will be posted below at about the start time which will be: US MST 7th Dec 7pm, East Coast US EST 9PM, West Coast PST 6pm, UTC 8th Dec 2am (sorry europe) and Australia 8th Dec, 1PMLive Exo-Planet Transit to celebrate #deSTEMber2012-12-08 03:00:00298  
Fraser Cain989,895To celebrate the landing of NASA's Curiosity Rover - the Mars Science Laboratory - we'll be running a special live hangout.  In conjunction with @106911959181067745693. We'll have all your favorite space/astronomy journalists on hand to discuss the mission in depth, and celebrate the landing live, when it happens. Join Fraser Cain, @109036978092446954908, @108952536790629690817 and @102887292457967781591 for this special event. Over the course of this 4-hour Google+ Hangout on Air, we'll interview members of the Curiosity team live in the hangout, as well as other special guests from the @111419948721791453320 and the @108759765804984663877. @109479143173251353583 and @107051665537162034944 will be on location at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to interview members of the engineering team, and show you what it's like to be at NASA during this amazing moment. We'll update this event as we lock down more of the guests and participants. See you there! You can follow the hashtag #marshangout   (this will replace our regular Sunday night @100902337165997768522)Google+ Hangout - Curiosity Landing Coverage2012-08-06 05:00:004838  

Shared Circles including Buddhini Samarasinghe

Shared Circles are not available on Google+ anymore, but you can find them still here.

The Google+ Collections of Buddhini Samarasinghe

New!
Login and checkout your own profile to see the average response per collection.
Or check out how it looks like on the profile page of +CircleCount.

Looks like this is your profile but we haven't loaded your posts yet to show you here the average numbers per collection.
Just open your dashboard and let the server work for you.

Activity

Average numbers for the latest posts (max. 50 posts, posted within the last 4 weeks)

5
comments per post
1
reshares per post
30
+1's per post

1,049
characters per posting

Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 167

posted image

2016-09-20 20:48:25 (167 comments; 22 reshares; 128 +1s; )Open 

Me too

My head is reeling from the information overload over the past 24 hours. By now many of you would have seen the linked article, calling out an abuser in our community. I'm writing this to say, I believe the authors, I believe the other victims who have come forward, because he did this to me too. I blocked him about 3 years ago and I thought it was just me he did this to but I am heartbroken to see that there are others he similarly abused. It's terrifying to read that article and see the same thing he did to me done to others. I can't even begin to explain what that it feels like.

Scott and I worked a lot on Google Hangouts back in 2012/2013. He was a really good friend at first, and as we got close he talked a lot about his problems. I felt really sorry for him. Now I realise how I was manipulated, I feel sick. I even invited this guy to my wedding - ugh.... more »

Most reshares: 319

posted image

2015-10-26 20:59:43 (53 comments; 319 reshares; 363 +1s; )Open 

Red meat and cancer risk

The news is awash with stories about how red and processed meats have been classified as carcinogens in the same category as tobacco. But what exactly does this mean? Let's unpick this a little bit before throwing out the bacon with the bathwater. 

There have been several excellent bits of writing that explain what this means - the first is by Ed Yong (http://goo.gl/br9OU7) and the second by CRUK* (http://goo.gl/ELDzCI). These are well-worth a read if you want to learn more. 

Basically, the key bit of information to remember is that this is not a risk assessment, it is a hazard identification. A great analogy (stolen from the CRUK article above) is to think of banana skins - they definitely can cause accidents, but in practice it doesn't happen very often, and isn't as severe as being in a car accident. But under the hazardi... more »

Most plusones: 363

posted image

2015-10-26 20:59:43 (53 comments; 319 reshares; 363 +1s; )Open 

Red meat and cancer risk

The news is awash with stories about how red and processed meats have been classified as carcinogens in the same category as tobacco. But what exactly does this mean? Let's unpick this a little bit before throwing out the bacon with the bathwater. 

There have been several excellent bits of writing that explain what this means - the first is by Ed Yong (http://goo.gl/br9OU7) and the second by CRUK* (http://goo.gl/ELDzCI). These are well-worth a read if you want to learn more. 

Basically, the key bit of information to remember is that this is not a risk assessment, it is a hazard identification. A great analogy (stolen from the CRUK article above) is to think of banana skins - they definitely can cause accidents, but in practice it doesn't happen very often, and isn't as severe as being in a car accident. But under the hazardi... more »

Latest 50 posts

posted image

2016-12-02 20:34:16 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 12 +1s; )Open 

Last Hangout for 2016!

Today I did my last Google Hangout for 2016. Appropriately, the topic was 'grief'. I'm not sure if it's very noticeable, but I tried to approach this slightly differently by making it more conversational and less 'interviewy'. Like the sort of thing Terry Gross would do :P. This article is beautiful, and I think of all the Mosaic articles I've read this one felt the most personal. It's an intense topic, and I hope you enjoy listening to this as much as I enjoyed speaking to Andrea.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8wAxxvZjLw

Andrea's article: https://mosaicscience.com/story/complicated-grief-bereavement-death-loss-CBT

Last Hangout for 2016!

Today I did my last Google Hangout for 2016. Appropriately, the topic was 'grief'. I'm not sure if it's very noticeable, but I tried to approach this slightly differently by making it more conversational and less 'interviewy'. Like the sort of thing Terry Gross would do :P. This article is beautiful, and I think of all the Mosaic articles I've read this one felt the most personal. It's an intense topic, and I hope you enjoy listening to this as much as I enjoyed speaking to Andrea.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8wAxxvZjLw

Andrea's article: https://mosaicscience.com/story/complicated-grief-bereavement-death-loss-CBT___

posted image

2016-11-24 13:42:48 (12 comments; 0 reshares; 34 +1s; )Open 

Shiny new Francis Crick Institute

This morning I finally got a chance to see the gorgeous new Francis Crick Institute (aka The Crick) near King's Cross in London. When I was a science comms manager at Cancer Research UK, some of the writing I did was to help fundraise money towards this building. Now I am at the Medical Research Council, (which is also a partner of The Crick), and I anticipate I'll continue writing about the ground breaking science that will happen here. Sometimes it feels like there's no escaping the gravitational pull of this massive building that apparently has over a million square feet in floorspace, but that's a good thing because I can only image how cool the discoveries will be. 

Shiny new Francis Crick Institute

This morning I finally got a chance to see the gorgeous new Francis Crick Institute (aka The Crick) near King's Cross in London. When I was a science comms manager at Cancer Research UK, some of the writing I did was to help fundraise money towards this building. Now I am at the Medical Research Council, (which is also a partner of The Crick), and I anticipate I'll continue writing about the ground breaking science that will happen here. Sometimes it feels like there's no escaping the gravitational pull of this massive building that apparently has over a million square feet in floorspace, but that's a good thing because I can only image how cool the discoveries will be. ___

posted image

2016-11-22 21:37:51 (0 comments; 2 reshares; 21 +1s; )Open 

Facebook LIVE Interview!

Those of you who follow me on that other social network may have noticed that I posted about doing my first ever Facebook LIVE interview. I am pleased to report that it went really well!

I was so nervous before doing this because I have never done a Facebook LIVE event before but it was awesome! The +Mosaic  science team were wonderful and a pleasure to work with. It's my first proper 'face to face' interview with someone and while it's still awkward to see myself on camera (I don't think I'll ever get used to that!) I hope that Geoff's story about the engineer who fixed his own heart makes up for it!

See full video here: https://www.facebook.com/mosaicscience/videos/vb.592368587469654/1311131618926677/ (it will be uploaded to YouTube later, but I wanted to share it here while it's still fresh!)

Link... more »

Facebook LIVE Interview!

Those of you who follow me on that other social network may have noticed that I posted about doing my first ever Facebook LIVE interview. I am pleased to report that it went really well!

I was so nervous before doing this because I have never done a Facebook LIVE event before but it was awesome! The +Mosaic  science team were wonderful and a pleasure to work with. It's my first proper 'face to face' interview with someone and while it's still awkward to see myself on camera (I don't think I'll ever get used to that!) I hope that Geoff's story about the engineer who fixed his own heart makes up for it!

See full video here: https://www.facebook.com/mosaicscience/videos/vb.592368587469654/1311131618926677/ (it will be uploaded to YouTube later, but I wanted to share it here while it's still fresh!)

Link to article: https://mosaicscience.com/story/engineer-who-fixed-his-own-heart___

posted image

2016-11-20 23:16:44 (8 comments; 0 reshares; 51 +1s; )Open 

Seasons of Maple

I had this last week off work without any specific plans to travel, so it was lovely to relax with lots of sleeping, reading, walking, and other hobbies I had neglected because it's difficult to find the time with a full time job. But a visit to Kew Gardens recently (lots of photos, but that's a separate post!) during the gorgeous abundance of autumn leaf colours inspired me to attempt painting it.

I've always loved maple leaves, for the sheer vibrancy of their colours and the variety of shapes. I also have a bare wall along the hallway of our house that badly needs a picture or three so with that in mind, I set out to do a 'botanical illustration' type painting of maple leaves in various stages of colouration.

I sketched the leaves using the ones I picked up as a guide, and then I used masking fluid around the edges to help... more »

Seasons of Maple

I had this last week off work without any specific plans to travel, so it was lovely to relax with lots of sleeping, reading, walking, and other hobbies I had neglected because it's difficult to find the time with a full time job. But a visit to Kew Gardens recently (lots of photos, but that's a separate post!) during the gorgeous abundance of autumn leaf colours inspired me to attempt painting it.

I've always loved maple leaves, for the sheer vibrancy of their colours and the variety of shapes. I also have a bare wall along the hallway of our house that badly needs a picture or three so with that in mind, I set out to do a 'botanical illustration' type painting of maple leaves in various stages of colouration.

I sketched the leaves using the ones I picked up as a guide, and then I used masking fluid around the edges to help maintain the crispness as I layered the washes of watercolour over it. I'm really happy with how it turned out! If anyone is interested in details (paints, brush types, techniques used etc) I'm happy to share :)___

posted image

2016-10-24 19:27:21 (51 comments; 5 reshares; 85 +1s; )Open 

Abuse, and the erosion of trust

It’s been over a month now since I found out that I wasn’t alone in being emotionally abused and taken advantage of by Scott Lewis, a serial abuser who targeted multiple people in the scicomm and astronomy communities. You can read my original post about it here: https://goo.gl/9Doqhu. However, there are still some things I don’t feel comfortable speaking publicly about. During this past month I’ve had to grapple with a lot of memories that I had pushed aside for years – uncomfortable truths that I didn’t really want to confront because denial is always an easier short-term strategy. But I now realise that my silence about these things can contribute to the problem; people don’t often realise how truly awful abuse is until they personally experience it, and of course, survivors of abuse are often too traumatised to talk about it in a way thatbystanders ca... more »

Abuse, and the erosion of trust

It’s been over a month now since I found out that I wasn’t alone in being emotionally abused and taken advantage of by Scott Lewis, a serial abuser who targeted multiple people in the scicomm and astronomy communities. You can read my original post about it here: https://goo.gl/9Doqhu. However, there are still some things I don’t feel comfortable speaking publicly about. During this past month I’ve had to grapple with a lot of memories that I had pushed aside for years – uncomfortable truths that I didn’t really want to confront because denial is always an easier short-term strategy. But I now realise that my silence about these things can contribute to the problem; people don’t often realise how truly awful abuse is until they personally experience it, and of course, survivors of abuse are often too traumatised to talk about it in a way that bystanders can understand or relate to. This is just one of the many ways that abuse isolates people, and I hope that by being open and frank about what I went through and how it changed me, more people can understand these insidious effects of abuse. And with that understanding, I hope that more bystanders can step up and publicly support survivors of abuse instead of just staying silent and hoping the drama just goes away.

Last week I met a friend for lunch, someone I have known for about two years, and I told her about this stuff for the first time. She was shocked, and then she said “You are such a strong person, and you come across so hilariously cynical. You have such a good bullshit filter. I can’t imagine you becoming a target of someone like that”. That’s when I realised that she has no idea how trusting I used to be, because she’s only ever known me post-abuse.

I have never experienced emotional abuse like this before. I was lucky to have never met someone like Scott until 2012. I didn’t ever have a need for boundaries before I met him. I didn’t know how to construct them. Now, when people are impressed by my boundaries, I am reminded of the reason why. The reason my house has such good fire protection now is because my entire house was burnt down three years ago, and it was devastating.

That erosion of trust has been so difficult to grapple with.

One of the primary ways that Scott gained my sympathy, and consequently my trust, was by talking to me about his mental health struggles. These conditions are very real for countless people who struggle every day with illnesses like depression. Mental health already has a lot of stigma attached to it in our society. I don’t want people to think that mental health problems are the cause of abuse. It is not. Scott didn’t emotionally abuse me because he was depressed. He did those things because he is an abuser. I say this because ever since I began to understand what he did to me, I actively have to shut down an inner voice that says “maybe they are saying it for sympathy like Scott did” when someone starts opening up to me about their mental health problems. I hate how cynical he has made me.

The reverse is also true. When I am going through something difficult, I don’t talk to people about it anymore. I am paranoid that I will come across as someone actively seeking pity, the way Scott did with me. In the past 3 years, I have been through so much; 6 months of forced separation from my husband due to immigration hassles, then 9 months of prolonged job-hunting and unemployment that destroyed what was left of my self-confidence post-abuse, then the sheer exhaustion of travelling between three cities every week for 10 months. I only confided in my closest friends and family about how difficult it was, and I walled myself off even from them when I felt things were really hopeless. I used to be a very open and trusting person and I don’t even recognise how to be that anymore, not without a lot of effort on my part to keep reminding myself that Scott was an anomalous data point, the exception rather than the norm. I hate how paranoid he has made me.

In 2009 my father passed away from advanced lung cancer. Watching someone I love slowly fade away like that while being helpless to stop it is still one of the hardest things I have ever had to experience. But what happened with Scott and the effects thereafter have been even harder to come to terms with. The betrayal, and the resulting loss of trust in my own judgement and integrity has been so hard to deal with. Even worse, the enduring lens of paranoia through which I now view every other relationship in my life is often exhausting. I wish there was a way to help people understand what this is like.

It is only because I am in a better place mentally that I now feel safe enough to try unpacking some of these things and attempt to talk about it publicly. I do this not for sympathy or attention, but for the purpose of shining a light on a topic that rarely gets talked about. I have not only endured, but I have prevailed over what he did to me. If you think I am strong because of this, remember that his abuse did not make me strong; I am strong despite it.

Photo: random doodle from a few years ago that seemed apt for this topic.___

posted image

2016-10-15 11:27:14 (4 comments; 0 reshares; 53 +1s; )Open 

Nerines and Cyclamens

I planted these Nerines in February 2016, and now in October 2016 they have started flowering. Very low maintenance, and a gorgeous shade of pink. The cyclamens are a much brighter splash of colour and hopefully they brighten up the coming few weeks.

Also, new collection! I can hopefully use this Horticulture collection to learn from the more experienced gardeners on G+ as I try to figure out this hobby I've always wanted to do :)

Nerines and Cyclamens

I planted these Nerines in February 2016, and now in October 2016 they have started flowering. Very low maintenance, and a gorgeous shade of pink. The cyclamens are a much brighter splash of colour and hopefully they brighten up the coming few weeks.

Also, new collection! I can hopefully use this Horticulture collection to learn from the more experienced gardeners on G+ as I try to figure out this hobby I've always wanted to do :)___

posted image

2016-10-12 17:11:26 (10 comments; 10 reshares; 53 +1s; )Open 

The Microbes of the Vagina

I'm really excited about kicking off Mosaic Hangouts again, this time about the fascinating topic of the microbes that live inside the vagina. I will be interviewing science writer Kendall Powell about her article that was published this week (https://mosaicscience.com/story/bacterial-vaginosis). Live stream can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPvLO-N6ONY

The article is really interesting, and I learned a lot from reading it - for example, did you know that the type of microbes in the vagina can influence susceptibility to HIV infection?! Tune in on Friday at 5.30PM UK time to learn more.

Also, I'll be doing it from the Wellcome Trust HQ (yay!) because my internet at home is patchy and unreliable :P

The Microbes of the Vagina

I'm really excited about kicking off Mosaic Hangouts again, this time about the fascinating topic of the microbes that live inside the vagina. I will be interviewing science writer Kendall Powell about her article that was published this week (https://mosaicscience.com/story/bacterial-vaginosis). Live stream can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPvLO-N6ONY

The article is really interesting, and I learned a lot from reading it - for example, did you know that the type of microbes in the vagina can influence susceptibility to HIV infection?! Tune in on Friday at 5.30PM UK time to learn more.

Also, I'll be doing it from the Wellcome Trust HQ (yay!) because my internet at home is patchy and unreliable :P___

posted image

2016-10-07 18:39:47 (17 comments; 1 reshares; 45 +1s; )Open 

Me on NPR's Marketplace

Last week I posted about an interview I recorded at the BBC studios in London. I promised to share the link once it was up. I didn't realise it at the time, but it was broadcast a couple of days ago on NPR's Marketplace. It was funny having people I knew pinging me saying "OMG YOU WERE ON NPR!". You can listen to the audio clip at the link below. It's only 2 mins after being edited down but I really like how they've done it :)

Also, I am still not used to being interviewed, I'm so used to being the interviewer!

http://www.marketplace.org/2016/10/05/generic/how-jurassic-park-inspired-one-doctor

Me on NPR's Marketplace

Last week I posted about an interview I recorded at the BBC studios in London. I promised to share the link once it was up. I didn't realise it at the time, but it was broadcast a couple of days ago on NPR's Marketplace. It was funny having people I knew pinging me saying "OMG YOU WERE ON NPR!". You can listen to the audio clip at the link below. It's only 2 mins after being edited down but I really like how they've done it :)

Also, I am still not used to being interviewed, I'm so used to being the interviewer!

http://www.marketplace.org/2016/10/05/generic/how-jurassic-park-inspired-one-doctor___

posted image

2016-10-02 19:06:29 (32 comments; 0 reshares; 52 +1s; )Open 

Balcony Garden

This is probably one of the most middle-aged things to do ever, but I planted some bulbs today, for next spring. I've planned a bunch of flowers that should hopefully mean -

Cyclamens for Oct/Nov/Dec
Crocuses for Feb/March
Daffodils for March
Anemones for March/April
Tulips for April/May
Ranunculus for May/June
Gladioli (callianthus) for Aug/Sept/Oct

Plants I already have that should hopefully come up again next year:
Honeysuckle for June/July/Aug
Jasmine for June/July/Aug
Agapanthus for Aug
Nerines for Oct

I think that means, if all goes as planned, I will have flowers pretty much the whole year next year. It's awesome to finally live somewhere that I can plan for stuff like this and experiment with a hobby that I've always wanted to try but never really had the opportunity to,... more »

Balcony Garden

This is probably one of the most middle-aged things to do ever, but I planted some bulbs today, for next spring. I've planned a bunch of flowers that should hopefully mean -

Cyclamens for Oct/Nov/Dec
Crocuses for Feb/March
Daffodils for March
Anemones for March/April
Tulips for April/May
Ranunculus for May/June
Gladioli (callianthus) for Aug/Sept/Oct

Plants I already have that should hopefully come up again next year:
Honeysuckle for June/July/Aug
Jasmine for June/July/Aug
Agapanthus for Aug
Nerines for Oct

I think that means, if all goes as planned, I will have flowers pretty much the whole year next year. It's awesome to finally live somewhere that I can plan for stuff like this and experiment with a hobby that I've always wanted to try but never really had the opportunity to, what with moving around every couple of years and living in crappy rented accommodation. It's still not the same as a proper garden but hey, balcony gardening ftw!___

posted image

2016-09-26 20:23:45 (22 comments; 2 reshares; 126 +1s; )Open 

Interview at the Beeb 

So in somewhat happier news to the mess that has taken over my life last week (see my previous public post if you want to know more), today I had an interview at the BBC studios here in London. Despite seeing the building from the outside many many times, I had never actually been inside until today.

The interview was part of a promotional piece for a book that is coming out in a few weeks, written by author Sam Maggs. It is entitled 'Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History'. I am definitely not in that category, but the book also has Q&As with several women in STEM, including myself. I'm not sure when they will broadcast the piece, which should be pretty short (15 mins of me yapping edited down to a minute or two!). Anyway as much as I don't really do cheesy selfies, I had to outside the Beeb just... more »

Interview at the Beeb 

So in somewhat happier news to the mess that has taken over my life last week (see my previous public post if you want to know more), today I had an interview at the BBC studios here in London. Despite seeing the building from the outside many many times, I had never actually been inside until today.

The interview was part of a promotional piece for a book that is coming out in a few weeks, written by author Sam Maggs. It is entitled 'Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History'. I am definitely not in that category, but the book also has Q&As with several women in STEM, including myself. I'm not sure when they will broadcast the piece, which should be pretty short (15 mins of me yapping edited down to a minute or two!). Anyway as much as I don't really do cheesy selfies, I had to outside the Beeb just because :)

More info about the book: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/539897/wonder-women-by-sam-maggs/9781524735470/

Press release: http://www.adweek.com/galleycat/sam-maggs-lands-deal-with-quirk-books/122112___

posted image

2016-09-20 20:48:25 (167 comments; 22 reshares; 128 +1s; )Open 

Me too

My head is reeling from the information overload over the past 24 hours. By now many of you would have seen the linked article, calling out an abuser in our community. I'm writing this to say, I believe the authors, I believe the other victims who have come forward, because he did this to me too. I blocked him about 3 years ago and I thought it was just me he did this to but I am heartbroken to see that there are others he similarly abused. It's terrifying to read that article and see the same thing he did to me done to others. I can't even begin to explain what that it feels like.

Scott and I worked a lot on Google Hangouts back in 2012/2013. He was a really good friend at first, and as we got close he talked a lot about his problems. I felt really sorry for him. Now I realise how I was manipulated, I feel sick. I even invited this guy to my wedding - ugh.... more »

Me too

My head is reeling from the information overload over the past 24 hours. By now many of you would have seen the linked article, calling out an abuser in our community. I'm writing this to say, I believe the authors, I believe the other victims who have come forward, because he did this to me too. I blocked him about 3 years ago and I thought it was just me he did this to but I am heartbroken to see that there are others he similarly abused. It's terrifying to read that article and see the same thing he did to me done to others. I can't even begin to explain what that it feels like.

Scott and I worked a lot on Google Hangouts back in 2012/2013. He was a really good friend at first, and as we got close he talked a lot about his problems. I felt really sorry for him. Now I realise how I was manipulated, I feel sick. I even invited this guy to my wedding - ugh.

Towards the end of 2013, as I was unemployed and living off savings while waiting for immigration paperwork to join my husband in the UK, Scott told me how he can't pay rent and how he doesn't have any money for food. I offered to lend him some money but he refused, but kept talking about how worried he is. Eventually he said yes and I lent him $1500 from my savings. A few weeks later he needed more money for something else (textbooks I think) so I again lent him another $1500. He said he would pay me back in a month or so when his student loans came in.

Meanwhile because I was so bored waiting in Sri Lanka for my immigration paperwork, I started writing more and more science posts. Scott invited me to partner on his website Know the Cosmos and I happily agreed, expecting us to be equal partners. But it turns out I ended up doing the bulk of the writing for free while he didn't really contribute much. It stopped feeling like a partnership and we fought a lot. Eventually I successfully pitched my Hallmarks of Cancer series to Scientific American and he was livid. That's when the emotional abuse really started. Constant arguments and put downs. He would say things like how naive and stupid I was for giving away my writing for free to Scientific American, how this is not the way to do it etc. It's partly why I wrote this post (https://goo.gl/jJwu7q) to address him and anyone else who questioned my decision to write it for free.

Things just reached a point where we could no longer work together. I remember the last Google Hangout we did together where just before we were supposed to go on air, he yelled at me about something I had done wrong. I was on the verge of tears that whole time, it was awful. But by that time I had moved back to the UK and thanks to a stronger support network around me, I was able to remove him from my life. Before that I sent him several emails asking for my loan back, but he never replied. I gave him a week and then I blocked him on all social media, considering the $3,000 as the price I had to pay to have him out of my life.

I am horrified that there are so many other victims. +Chad Haney  has a post here (https://goo.gl/UqISLJ) listing some of the others who have come forward. Please share this out, and please warn others. I had no idea he kept doing this after me, and I wish I had said something sooner rather than waiting until now.

I'm going to leave comments open while I am around but lock comments when I am away because I don't want derails from Scott-apologists.

H/T to +Pamela L. Gay and +Rugger Ducky for bringing this to my attention.___

posted image

2016-09-13 21:08:01 (21 comments; 28 reshares; 74 +1s; )Open 

The Evolution of Antibiotic Resistance

One of my favourite things about my job at the MRC is writing about all types of biomedical research, and not just cancer. This week I’ve been digging into the threat of antibiotic resistance, and it is truly sobering to read how bad a problem it is. Coincidentally I stumbled across this fantastic experiment carried out by a team of researchers at Harvard University. It illustrates how antibiotic resistance happens, and more importantly (and scarily!) how fast it happens. I love this experiment for the simplicity behind it, and how illuminating the results are.

✤ To study the evolution of antibiotic resistance, the researchers set up a giant petri dish. This rectangular dish was filled with agar that was dyed black (so that the bacteria could be seen easily) and topped off with soft agar (so that the bacteria could move easily).<... more »

The Evolution of Antibiotic Resistance

One of my favourite things about my job at the MRC is writing about all types of biomedical research, and not just cancer. This week I’ve been digging into the threat of antibiotic resistance, and it is truly sobering to read how bad a problem it is. Coincidentally I stumbled across this fantastic experiment carried out by a team of researchers at Harvard University. It illustrates how antibiotic resistance happens, and more importantly (and scarily!) how fast it happens. I love this experiment for the simplicity behind it, and how illuminating the results are.

✤ To study the evolution of antibiotic resistance, the researchers set up a giant petri dish. This rectangular dish was filled with agar that was dyed black (so that the bacteria could be seen easily) and topped off with soft agar (so that the bacteria could move easily).

✤ The plate was divided up into nine sections for antibiotic concentration. The outmost edges of the plate had no antibiotic, and then the dose was gradually increased until the centre of the plate had 3000 units of antibiotic.

✤ The researchers then put E. coli bacteria on the edge of the plate. These bacteria are able to move, and therefore when they used up all the nutrients in a local area, they spread through a mechanism called ‘chemotaxis’ – the bacteria are drawn towards the chemicals released by the nutrients in the nearby regions on the agar plate. But these nearby regions have antibiotics in them, so only bacteria that have evolved resistance can spread to these regions.

✤ It’s worth noting that the antibiotic starts out at a non-lethal dose, which means that a certain proportion of the bacteria will be able to survive it. Then, as the antibiotic gradually increases, it selects the bacteria that have mutations in their genes that allow them to survive despite ever-increasing concentrations of antibiotic.

✤ The beauty of this experiment is that it is possible to see this happening in the relatively short space of 11 days. What’s more, the researchers were able to sample the resistant bacteria and then sequence the genes to find out exactly how antibiotic resistance evolves.

✤ One of the most common mutations was in a gene known as dnaQ which codes for a protein that helps copy DNA when the cells divide. This protein has proof-reading abilities, but when it is mutated, the proof-reading ‘relaxes’ - resulting in a typo-ridden genome that has immense potential for accumulating more and more mutations very rapidly. In addition to dnaQ mutations, the bacteria also had mutations in genes involved in the folate biosynthesis pathway, which is the main target of the antibiotic used in this experiment.

✤ It’s also worth noting that mutations that increased antibiotic resistance came at a cost – these mutant bacterial strains were smaller due to reduced growth. But as soon as the mutants established themselves in the antibiotic-filled region, compensatory mutations kicked in and they were able to reach normal size.

✤ In the end, the bacteria at the centre of the plate were able to tolerate a dose of antibiotics that was 1000 times higher than that tolerated by the starting bacteria. It’s terrifying to realise how under the right conditions, bacteria can evolve so quickly. It’s also sobering to realise that antibiotics, a discovery that transformed modern medicine, may soon be obsolete thanks to the wide-spread misuse of antibiotics in agriculture and medical settings.

Full text research paper: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/353/6304/1147.full

More writing on antibiotic resistance: https://www.statnews.com/2016/09/12/superbug-antibiotic-resistance-history/ and http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2015/11/21/mcr-gene-colistin/___

posted image

2016-08-26 18:08:19 (18 comments; 0 reshares; 62 +1s; )Open 

Beautiful London

It's been a month since I started my new job at the Medical Research Council and I really really like it so far! Perhaps the best part is the amazing view I get to see every morning from the window near my desk. And yes, I actually have my own desk, I no longer have to "hot desk".

I am guessing that as the days get shorter I'll be able to catch more sunrise and sunset photos. Stay tuned! 

Beautiful London

It's been a month since I started my new job at the Medical Research Council and I really really like it so far! Perhaps the best part is the amazing view I get to see every morning from the window near my desk. And yes, I actually have my own desk, I no longer have to "hot desk".

I am guessing that as the days get shorter I'll be able to catch more sunrise and sunset photos. Stay tuned! ___

posted image

2016-08-21 17:45:55 (12 comments; 1 reshares; 42 +1s; )Open 

Wisteria Sanctuary

Kew Gardens is (as many of you know!) my favourite place in London. Today I think I may have found my favourite place within Kew Gardens! This gorgeous pagoda skeleton (not sure what else to call it!) has a vigorous healthy Wisteria wrapped all around it. I can only imagine how gorgeous it would be when the flowers are in bloom, the pale lilac colour adding another dimension to the delicate structure. Enter it through the narrow opening and suddenly you are hidden from the normal foot traffic. The leaves rustle with the wind, and sometimes a few birds chirp amongst the vines. There is a wonderfully comfortable bench to sit on, set on the cool paving stones as you sit and watch the world pass by.

It's also been far too long since I posted a photosphere! 

Wisteria Sanctuary

Kew Gardens is (as many of you know!) my favourite place in London. Today I think I may have found my favourite place within Kew Gardens! This gorgeous pagoda skeleton (not sure what else to call it!) has a vigorous healthy Wisteria wrapped all around it. I can only imagine how gorgeous it would be when the flowers are in bloom, the pale lilac colour adding another dimension to the delicate structure. Enter it through the narrow opening and suddenly you are hidden from the normal foot traffic. The leaves rustle with the wind, and sometimes a few birds chirp amongst the vines. There is a wonderfully comfortable bench to sit on, set on the cool paving stones as you sit and watch the world pass by.

It's also been far too long since I posted a photosphere! ___

posted image

2016-08-17 19:49:05 (2 comments; 4 reshares; 32 +1s; )Open 

The perils of being your own doctor

ALS is a devastating disease. As with any diagnosis for this sort of disease, it is rarely straightforward or quick. From the first suspicious symptom to the first doctor's visit, and then to the myriad of diagnostic tests, followed by visits to the specialists...all interspersed with that awful waiting process in between.

This article is an incredibly well-written account of what it was like for a doctor who noticed ALS symptoms in himself. I love how his writing is filled with empathy and observations of what the process is like, and how his own thought process so closely mirrors the anxiety that the rest of us non-medics can have. Well worth a read!

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/aug/04/perils-being-your-own-doctor-als

The perils of being your own doctor

ALS is a devastating disease. As with any diagnosis for this sort of disease, it is rarely straightforward or quick. From the first suspicious symptom to the first doctor's visit, and then to the myriad of diagnostic tests, followed by visits to the specialists...all interspersed with that awful waiting process in between.

This article is an incredibly well-written account of what it was like for a doctor who noticed ALS symptoms in himself. I love how his writing is filled with empathy and observations of what the process is like, and how his own thought process so closely mirrors the anxiety that the rest of us non-medics can have. Well worth a read!

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/aug/04/perils-being-your-own-doctor-als___

posted image

2016-08-08 21:28:19 (21 comments; 29 reshares; 51 +1s; )Open 

How to Read a Medical Research Paper

Biomedical research is a field that touches all our lives at some point or another. Through it, we have identified new ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat most of the diseases that affect us. As such it is unsurprising to come across people who have various opinions about the accuracy of these discoveries. By confusing large-scale data with personal anecdotes, by mistaking peer-reviewed research with pseudoscience, the waters are made muddy until even undecided fence-sitters become needlessly skeptical thanks to the "well we must teach the controversy!" stories.

All this has led to an unprecedented epidemic of anti-science rhetoric, where overwhelming scientific consensus is regarded with suspicion. Vaccines, genetically modified food, diet, nutrition, chemotherapy, vitamins, supplements, acupuncture, 'cupping' (thanks... more »

How to Read a Medical Research Paper

Biomedical research is a field that touches all our lives at some point or another. Through it, we have identified new ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat most of the diseases that affect us. As such it is unsurprising to come across people who have various opinions about the accuracy of these discoveries. By confusing large-scale data with personal anecdotes, by mistaking peer-reviewed research with pseudoscience, the waters are made muddy until even undecided fence-sitters become needlessly skeptical thanks to the "well we must teach the controversy!" stories.

All this has led to an unprecedented epidemic of anti-science rhetoric, where overwhelming scientific consensus is regarded with suspicion. Vaccines, genetically modified food, diet, nutrition, chemotherapy, vitamins, supplements, acupuncture, 'cupping' (thanks Michael Phelps)...the list is endless. Matters aren't helped when newspapers overhype findings to increase circulation or clicks - CANCER CURE FOUND or DIABETES VACCINE SORTED or TRUMP MANIA CURED (I wish) or whatever.

So how do you decide for yourself, without being misled by snake-oil salesmen trying to sell their latest elixir or inexperienced journalists trying to get more clicks? Unfortunately academic jargon means reading the original research paper isn't easy unless you have a science background. Assuming the paper isn't behind a paywall and you actually get your hands on a copy, how do you begin to make sense of it? How do you know whether it's legit, so to speak?

It's all the more heartbreaking when patients, who have so much at stake, can end up endangering their health because of false promises. Open access research means more people can access research papers, but that doesn't necessarily mean the research itself is accessible.

Today I stumbled across an awesome, interactive, free to use website that guides people through the process of reading a scientific paper. It teaches you the things you should look out for, such as;

Is the paper peer-reviewed?
Who carried out the research?
Who funded it?
Was it reviewed by an ethics committee?

If it's paid for by a tobacco company and it says smoking doesn't cause lung cancer then you should rightly be very suspicious!

It also teaches you the difference between a review or meta analysis vs an individual study, and whether it's good for basing decisions on. It even goes on to explain clinical studies, and how you should evaluate them before deciding actually no, organic kale juice can't cure cancer...

Check it out - http://www.understandinghealthresearch.org/___

posted image

2016-06-23 17:52:24 (25 comments; 1 reshares; 95 +1s; )Open 

Rainy Referendum

It's been such an awful campaign leading up to the EU Referendum here. Fingers crossed for Remain, because it's an obvious choice for an immigrant like me living in the UK. In true British spirit it's been raining non-stop all day too.

EDIT: I'm not really in the mood to argue about the referendum, I've seen enough 'commentary' about it to last a lifetime so if the comments on here do descend down to that I'll be closing it. My vote, and my reasons for voting the way I did is not up for debate. Thank you.

Rainy Referendum

It's been such an awful campaign leading up to the EU Referendum here. Fingers crossed for Remain, because it's an obvious choice for an immigrant like me living in the UK. In true British spirit it's been raining non-stop all day too.

EDIT: I'm not really in the mood to argue about the referendum, I've seen enough 'commentary' about it to last a lifetime so if the comments on here do descend down to that I'll be closing it. My vote, and my reasons for voting the way I did is not up for debate. Thank you.___

posted image

2016-06-14 21:10:47 (17 comments; 3 reshares; 104 +1s; )Open 

A Series of 'Lasts'

As I approach my last day working at Cancer Research UK (July 22nd!), I anticipate my time will be filled with 'lasts'. The last time I will interview a scientist. The last time I will write an update on our latest research. Most of these will be sad and filled with nostalgia, but I am looking forward to the last time I have to endure a meeting that mentions the word 'strategy' or 'relationship management' more than 37 times (heh).

Today I had what I think will be my last meeting with donors. Every so often, I get to travel to different locations in the UK and give a talk about the latest advances in cancer research to older people. These events are aimed at people who may be thinking about leaving money in their will as a gift, and my role is to explain how medical imaging has changed the way we understand and treat cancer.... more »

A Series of 'Lasts'

As I approach my last day working at Cancer Research UK (July 22nd!), I anticipate my time will be filled with 'lasts'. The last time I will interview a scientist. The last time I will write an update on our latest research. Most of these will be sad and filled with nostalgia, but I am looking forward to the last time I have to endure a meeting that mentions the word 'strategy' or 'relationship management' more than 37 times (heh).

Today I had what I think will be my last meeting with donors. Every so often, I get to travel to different locations in the UK and give a talk about the latest advances in cancer research to older people. These events are aimed at people who may be thinking about leaving money in their will as a gift, and my role is to explain how medical imaging has changed the way we understand and treat cancer. It's a really fun talk, filled with videos and pictures, and often times people learn things that they really had no idea about.

I was in Swindon today, and after the event as people were leaving, a lady stopped and spoke with me. She said that her sister had died of lung cancer a few years ago, and it was a really difficult time for her. She mentioned how she has avoided talking about or listening to anything to do with cancer, as it was too painful for her. She said she was unsure about attending the event today, but she was glad she did because she learned so much about some really awesome science. She finished by thanking me for making a difficult topic less scary, and then said "science really is the key for understanding cancer, and that's how we can remove the fear that comes with it".

Public speaking isn't something I enjoy - it's always something I have to make myself do because I hate being in the limelight. But this exchange was a powerful reminder of why it's worth the pain. Because I feel like in some small way, by helping people understand what cancer is and what we can do about it, we can help break down the stigma and fear that comes with it.___

posted image

2016-05-29 22:58:18 (51 comments; 0 reshares; 173 +1s; )Open 

Changes

Phew - it's finally official, I think. Contracts have been signed and sent away - in just under two months time I will be starting a new job working as a science writer at the Medical Research Council. Cancer has always been such a personal topic for me (and was one of my prime motivators for working at Cancer Research UK) but I am excited about being able to write about all types of biomedical research, not just cancer. Adjusting to corporate life since I left academia has been 'challenging' at the best of times, but hopefully getting a little bit closer to the science will be a welcome change!

Changes

Phew - it's finally official, I think. Contracts have been signed and sent away - in just under two months time I will be starting a new job working as a science writer at the Medical Research Council. Cancer has always been such a personal topic for me (and was one of my prime motivators for working at Cancer Research UK) but I am excited about being able to write about all types of biomedical research, not just cancer. Adjusting to corporate life since I left academia has been 'challenging' at the best of times, but hopefully getting a little bit closer to the science will be a welcome change!___

posted image

2016-02-27 15:22:47 (9 comments; 4 reshares; 27 +1s; )Open 

Psychedelic Therapy

I had a fascinating conversation this morning with Sam Wong, about using psychedelic drugs like LSD and MDMA for therapy. These drugs help patients going through mental health therapy, by helping them reconnect with their feelings and the traumatic experiences in their lives.

Psychiatry as a field has largely become a palliative care effort - current drugs numb feeling, helping people manage their symptoms and function with their lives without really addressing the root causes of their trauma. Psychedelic drugs on the other hand, used under carefully controlled settings, allow patients to process their feelings and overcome toxic thought-patterns to gain new perspective. It's sad that the War on Drugs has demonised psychedelic drugs to the point where both society and psychiatry view them as unsafe and/or kooky. If you'd like to learn more, watch the... more »

Psychedelic Therapy

I had a fascinating conversation this morning with Sam Wong, about using psychedelic drugs like LSD and MDMA for therapy. These drugs help patients going through mental health therapy, by helping them reconnect with their feelings and the traumatic experiences in their lives.

Psychiatry as a field has largely become a palliative care effort - current drugs numb feeling, helping people manage their symptoms and function with their lives without really addressing the root causes of their trauma. Psychedelic drugs on the other hand, used under carefully controlled settings, allow patients to process their feelings and overcome toxic thought-patterns to gain new perspective. It's sad that the War on Drugs has demonised psychedelic drugs to the point where both society and psychiatry view them as unsafe and/or kooky. If you'd like to learn more, watch the video or read Sam's full article on

Mosaic science: http://mosaicscience.com/story/psychedelic-therapy

Hangout link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9NmXsnasEo___

posted image

2016-02-26 18:09:50 (3 comments; 4 reshares; 28 +1s; )Open 

The Joy of Rachmaninoff

I'm not sure how long this video link will stay up for, but this is a fantastic BBC documentary about Rachmaninoff's music, well worth watching if you have an hour or so to spare. Presented by Tom Service who follows the story through Russia, visiting key landmarks that were important in Rachmaninoff's career, it's full of fascinating anecdotes about the life of someone who was deeply devoted to his music. And of course, the music is beautiful, filled with nostalgia and sentimentality. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcEHZIEYorM

The Joy of Rachmaninoff

I'm not sure how long this video link will stay up for, but this is a fantastic BBC documentary about Rachmaninoff's music, well worth watching if you have an hour or so to spare. Presented by Tom Service who follows the story through Russia, visiting key landmarks that were important in Rachmaninoff's career, it's full of fascinating anecdotes about the life of someone who was deeply devoted to his music. And of course, the music is beautiful, filled with nostalgia and sentimentality. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcEHZIEYorM___

posted image

2016-02-23 18:53:44 (45 comments; 0 reshares; 51 +1s; )Open 

Opting in for Google Hangouts

As many of you know I have been on a hangout hosting spree these past few months - both through my work at Cancer Research UK, and also with the lovely team at +Mosaic. For example, this Saturday I'll be hosting a hangout about how psychedelic drugs like LSD and ecstasy are helping patients reconnect with their feelings and the difficult experiences in their life (and also how 'The War on Drugs' gets in the way of trying to actually use this more widely!). Link: https://goo.gl/KJtGLA

I don't want to spam everyone with a bazillion notifications by inviting everyone in my circles, but I also don't want to not talk about these hangouts because otherwise no one will be aware I'm hosting them!

So - I figured I'll just ask. If you want to be notified/invited to watch any future hangouts, could you please indicate via... more »

Opting in for Google Hangouts

As many of you know I have been on a hangout hosting spree these past few months - both through my work at Cancer Research UK, and also with the lovely team at +Mosaic. For example, this Saturday I'll be hosting a hangout about how psychedelic drugs like LSD and ecstasy are helping patients reconnect with their feelings and the difficult experiences in their life (and also how 'The War on Drugs' gets in the way of trying to actually use this more widely!). Link: https://goo.gl/KJtGLA

I don't want to spam everyone with a bazillion notifications by inviting everyone in my circles, but I also don't want to not talk about these hangouts because otherwise no one will be aware I'm hosting them!

So - I figured I'll just ask. If you want to be notified/invited to watch any future hangouts, could you please indicate via the comments, or by plussing this post? (A simple 'aye' will do!). I'll still share these events through my profile, but I won't specifically invite those of you who don't want to be invited. 

Thanks!___

posted image

2016-02-21 22:25:18 (19 comments; 4 reshares; 68 +1s; )Open 

A Brazilian Rainforest in Kew

Kew Gardens in London is currently having an orchid exhibition on, and I finally had a chance to check it out today. Inside a tropical greenhouse, filled with lush orchids and bromeliads of stunning colours, it was a lovely escape from the grey dreary winter weather. It was also a chance for some macro shots of interesting flower shapes and colours - I haven't really had a chance to enjoy photography for quite a few months now!

Showing until the 6th of March 2016, it's definitely worth a visit. More details here: http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/whats-on/orchids

A Brazilian Rainforest in Kew

Kew Gardens in London is currently having an orchid exhibition on, and I finally had a chance to check it out today. Inside a tropical greenhouse, filled with lush orchids and bromeliads of stunning colours, it was a lovely escape from the grey dreary winter weather. It was also a chance for some macro shots of interesting flower shapes and colours - I haven't really had a chance to enjoy photography for quite a few months now!

Showing until the 6th of March 2016, it's definitely worth a visit. More details here: http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/whats-on/orchids___

2016-02-19 11:03:44 (4 comments; 3 reshares; 32 +1s; )Open 

The Broken Calorie

This evening I'll be hosting a +Mosaic Hangout about the calorie. I'm chatting with Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley, hosts of the brilliant Gastropod podcast. 

I will be covering why a calorie is not just a calorie - how some people can count calories and limit their food intake as much as possible and yet never seem to lose weight. How our individual metabolism, the microbes in our gut, the way the food is prepared - all these things can affect the simple calories in = calories burnt equation. It's a fascinating topic, and at the heart of it is this single unit of measurement that seems to be problematic and misleading. 

You can RSVP at the event link below for the live broadcast at 8PM UK time tonight, or catch up afterwards on YouTube.

The Broken Calorie

Calories consumed minus calories burned: it’s the simple formula for weight loss or gain. But our mistaken faith in the power of this seemingly simple measurement may be hindering the fight against obesity. We are just beginning to understand that a calorie isn’t just a calorie. 

What effect do differences in height, body fat, liver size, metabolism, and other factors have on energy consumption? How does our microbiome influence our metabolism and body weight? Does the future lie in personalised nutrition? 

Join us for a Mosaic Hangout on air as we speak to Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley about this fascinating topic. Cynthia and Nicola are hosts of the brilliant Gastropod podcast (http://gastropod.com/), and recently wrote an article about why the calorie is broken for Mosaic. 
 
This HOA will be hosted by Dr +Buddhini Samarasinghe. You can tune in on Friday 19th February at 8 PM UK time. The hangout will be available for viewing on our YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/mosaicscience) after the event.

Article: http://mosaicscience.com/story/why-calorie-broken

Join the conversation using #MosaicHangout  ___The Broken Calorie

This evening I'll be hosting a +Mosaic Hangout about the calorie. I'm chatting with Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley, hosts of the brilliant Gastropod podcast. 

I will be covering why a calorie is not just a calorie - how some people can count calories and limit their food intake as much as possible and yet never seem to lose weight. How our individual metabolism, the microbes in our gut, the way the food is prepared - all these things can affect the simple calories in = calories burnt equation. It's a fascinating topic, and at the heart of it is this single unit of measurement that seems to be problematic and misleading. 

You can RSVP at the event link below for the live broadcast at 8PM UK time tonight, or catch up afterwards on YouTube.

posted image

2016-01-22 21:38:54 (19 comments; 37 reshares; 278 +1s; )Open 

How does neuroblastoma evade immune cells?

✤ Neuroblastoma is a rare type of solid tumour that affects infants and very young children. It grows from nerve cells left over from development in the womb. Normally these cells vanish once they have done their job, and the reasons why they persist and carry on dividing in rare instances to become a cancer remain a mystery.

✤ One of the intriguing features of neuroblastoma is that the tumour creates an environment where the immune system is suppressed. Cancer cells often send out molecules to suppress the immune system, so that they can remain undetected within our bodies.

✤ Which is why immunotherapies, that can 'wake up the immune system', have so much promise. But first, we have to understand exactly how cancer cells suppress the immune system, so that we can develop those newimmun... more »

How does neuroblastoma evade immune cells?

✤ Neuroblastoma is a rare type of solid tumour that affects infants and very young children. It grows from nerve cells left over from development in the womb. Normally these cells vanish once they have done their job, and the reasons why they persist and carry on dividing in rare instances to become a cancer remain a mystery.

✤ One of the intriguing features of neuroblastoma is that the tumour creates an environment where the immune system is suppressed. Cancer cells often send out molecules to suppress the immune system, so that they can remain undetected within our bodies.

✤ Which is why immunotherapies, that can 'wake up the immune system', have so much promise. But first, we have to understand exactly how cancer cells suppress the immune system, so that we can develop those new immunotherapies.

✤ Our immune system is made up of many different types of cells. The most important is type of cell is known as a T-cell. T-cells can act as the soldiers of the immune system, actively engaged in ‘search and destroy’ missions looking for harmful disease-causing enemy cells. Unfortunately cancer cells can ‘hide’ from T-cells by sending out molecules that put these T-cells to sleep, through a process known as immunosuppression.

✤ But what are these molecules, and how do they cause immunosuppression? And most importantly, how can we exploit this knowledge to develop therapies that can re-activate these T cells?

✤ Researchers at the University of Birmingham have found that a molecule called arginine might be involved. Arginine is an amino acid normally found within our cells, and is broken down by an enzyme called arginase. The team discovered that neuroblastoma cells produce a lot of arginase enzyme. It means that in the environment surrounding neuroblastoma cells, known as the tumour microenvironment, arginine levels are very low. This reduced level of arginine is involved in the immunosuppression seen in neuroblastoma tumours. The team also showed that this same mechanism might be involved in immunosuppression in another childhood cancer, called acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).  

✤ So what is the impact of this research? We now know how important it is to regulate arginine levels in the tumour, so that T-cells can remain active. This immunosuppression also affects cell-based therapies, where engineered T cells are injected into patients. So it’s even more important that we make sure that the immunosuppressed tumour microenvironment is addressed before trying out new immunotherapies for treatment.

✤ It is tempting to think of giving arginine supplements to patients, to 'boost their immune system', but there is concern that it might feed tumour growth. A better approach would be to inhibit the activity of the enzyme, arginase. Excitingly, there are several compounds that act on arginase that are going through pre-clinical investigations. When given in combination with existing immunotherapies, these arginase inhibitors could greatly enhance treatment, and so improve patient outcome for the cancers where they work

Full paper: http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/75/15/3043.long

Image credit: Neuroblastoma cell line, Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroblastoma#/media/File:BiggeggSH-SY5Y.jpg)___

posted image

2016-01-08 15:37:44 (36 comments; 3 reshares; 79 +1s; )Open 

"Self-care" with books

2015 wasn't an easy year for several reasons. Adjusting to a new job, excessive amounts of travel, trying to buy a new house, moving across the country - all positive steps but all so incredibly exhausting because it's so hard to know at the time whether things will work out or not. So it was brilliant to have two weeks off during the Christmas holidays so I could truly catch up on doing the things that I enjoy doing. I've never been a fan of the 'self-care' concept - buying ridiculously priced pointless shit like moisturisers and pedicures just seemed meaningless to me - but I can totally get on board with splurging on books.

So imagine my pleasure when I stumbled across a beautifully bound hardcover edition of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. Wooo! The artwork, the paper, the binding - so so pretty! Reading for... more »

"Self-care" with books

2015 wasn't an easy year for several reasons. Adjusting to a new job, excessive amounts of travel, trying to buy a new house, moving across the country - all positive steps but all so incredibly exhausting because it's so hard to know at the time whether things will work out or not. So it was brilliant to have two weeks off during the Christmas holidays so I could truly catch up on doing the things that I enjoy doing. I've never been a fan of the 'self-care' concept - buying ridiculously priced pointless shit like moisturisers and pedicures just seemed meaningless to me - but I can totally get on board with splurging on books.

So imagine my pleasure when I stumbled across a beautifully bound hardcover edition of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. Wooo! The artwork, the paper, the binding - so so pretty! Reading for pleasure was something I didn't have enough time to do in 2015. I think 2016 will be very different :D

If anyone is interested in building up a similar collection, here's the link to Orion Books - https://www.orionbooks.co.uk/search.page?isbn=9781473200111___

posted image

2016-01-07 19:41:51 (23 comments; 4 reshares; 126 +1s; )Open 

At the Royal Institution, listening to Professor Stephen Hawkings talk about Black Holes at the Reith Memorial Lecture. So so excited! 

At the Royal Institution, listening to Professor Stephen Hawkings talk about Black Holes at the Reith Memorial Lecture. So so excited! ___

posted image

2016-01-01 23:56:30 (30 comments; 61 reshares; 273 +1s; )Open 

The Immune System: A Grand Unifying Theory for Biomedical Research

Every year, the Edge Foundation asks a thought-provoking question (known as the Edge Annual Question) and invites scientists and intellectuals to contribute with essays. This year's Edge Annual Question is a predictive one. It asks, "What Do You Consider The Most Interesting Recent Scientific News? What Makes it Important?". I had the pleasure of being invited to submit a contribution again this year, and I really enjoyed writing this essay during the Christmas break :)

Edge solicits answers from people who are experts in a wide variety of fields, ranging from neuroscience to quantum physics, from psychology to sociology. For biomedical science, at first the obvious choice for a response would be something like CRISPR - indeed, many of the other responses have covered this fantastic 'genome... more »

The Immune System: A Grand Unifying Theory for Biomedical Research

Every year, the Edge Foundation asks a thought-provoking question (known as the Edge Annual Question) and invites scientists and intellectuals to contribute with essays. This year's Edge Annual Question is a predictive one. It asks, "What Do You Consider The Most Interesting Recent Scientific News? What Makes it Important?". I had the pleasure of being invited to submit a contribution again this year, and I really enjoyed writing this essay during the Christmas break :)

Edge solicits answers from people who are experts in a wide variety of fields, ranging from neuroscience to quantum physics, from psychology to sociology. For biomedical science, at first the obvious choice for a response would be something like CRISPR - indeed, many of the other responses have covered this fantastic 'genome editing' tool that allows us to manipulate our own DNA. But as I thought about the question, I realised that at the end of the day, CRISPR is still just a tool, much like gene cloning was several years ago. However, there are intriguing, broader discoveries within biomedical science, with exciting implications for human diseases; in my opinion these outshine the discovery of CRISPR.

I am talking about the immune system's role in disease.

"Since 430 BC we have known of biological structures and processes that protect the body against disease; but even today we are just beginning to understand how deeply involved they are in our lives. The immune system’s cellular sentries weave an intricate early warning network through the body; its signaling molecules—the cytokines—trigger and modulate our response to infection, including inflammation; it is involved in even so humble a process as the clotting of blood in a wound. Today we are beginning to grasp how—from cancer to diabetes, from heart disease to malaria, from dementia to depression—the immune system is involved at a fundamental level, providing us with the framework to understand, and to better treat these wide-ranging ailments"

When it comes to 'interesting scientific news', our self-interest will guarantee that anything we can do to extend and improve the quality of our lives will always be news. The immune system provides a unifying framework for understanding nearly every major condition that affects us, and on that basis it will always be newsworthy.

Full essay at http://edge.org/response-detail/26621
Image: Healthy human T-cell, one of the key components of our immune system (Wikipedia)

Happy New Year, everyone! :)
___

posted image

2015-11-28 12:57:30 (10 comments; 26 reshares; 182 +1s; )Open 

Processed meat and Cancer: What is the Risk?

Yesterday I hosted a Hangout with two scientists to talk about the links between diet and cancer, on the back of the "omg bacon gives you cancer" stories that broke out a few weeks ago. As part of my job as a science communicator at CRUK, I get access to researchers who study this, so I was very pleased to chat with Dr Kathryn Bradbury, a nutritional epidemiologist, and Professor Owen Sansom, a molecular biologist. It was a good mix of research interests because we were able to approach this question from a population/clinical angle, but then also dive into the mechanism behind what we see, i.e. how exactly does red and processed meat increase cancer risk. You can watch the full video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jS1QW74wJRw. Joining me was my colleague Dr Kat Arney, who co-hosts these cancer Hangouts with... more »

Processed meat and Cancer: What is the Risk?

Yesterday I hosted a Hangout with two scientists to talk about the links between diet and cancer, on the back of the "omg bacon gives you cancer" stories that broke out a few weeks ago. As part of my job as a science communicator at CRUK, I get access to researchers who study this, so I was very pleased to chat with Dr Kathryn Bradbury, a nutritional epidemiologist, and Professor Owen Sansom, a molecular biologist. It was a good mix of research interests because we were able to approach this question from a population/clinical angle, but then also dive into the mechanism behind what we see, i.e. how exactly does red and processed meat increase cancer risk. You can watch the full video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jS1QW74wJRw. Joining me was my colleague Dr Kat Arney, who co-hosts these cancer Hangouts with me. 

First we discussed how we find out what things in the diet are linked to cancer - Kathryn explained how we design studies looking at hundreds of thousands of people from the general population. We ask them questions about their diet and lifestyle, and then we follow them up over many years to see who develops cancer. Then we look back and see what effect their diets had on their cancer development, for example did vegetarians get less cancer than those who ate lots of red and processed meat. Having large-scale population based studies like this is the only way we can gather evidence for the risk factors for cancer; lots of people mean better statistical analyses, which means the data is more rigorous, rather than the anecdotal "oh my neighbour drank a miracle kale juice cleanser every day and he never got cancer" theories. 

Owen talked about the mechanisms for cancer development, particularly bowel cancer, and how it is linked to the molecules found in red and processed meat. The cells lining our gut get completely replaced every 3-4 days, so they are cells with a high rate of cell division. These cells are also exposed to cancer-causing chemicals (i.e. carcinogens) from the food we eat, depending on our diet. With red and processed meat, eating a lot of it means that the gut cells are also exposed to a lot of the carcinogens found in them. For example red and processed meats have a lot of nitroso products, and these can be carcinogenic. How exactly does that work? These chemicals cause mutations to the DNA in the cells lining the gut. Owen also talked about how it can cause more mutations in key tumour-suppressor genes (i.e. genes that normally suppress cancer, but when these genes are mutated it leads to cancer - I discussed one such pathway here https://goo.gl/6CSn10). Haem iron from red meat is also a culprit because it has shown to cause DNA damage. Intriguingly, Owen also brought up how the bacterial population in our gut (i.e. our microbiome) can change depending on what we eat, which in turn can have an impact on whether the cells lining our gut can end up with mutations that can lead to cancer. 

Finally we finished up by talking about cancer prevention. We know that 4 in 9 cancers are linked to preventable causes, so what are the things we can do to lower our cancer risk? The answers were unsurprising; give up smoking (if you smoke), reduce instances of sun-burn, eat a well-balanced diet with moderate amounts of red and processed meat (i.e. bacon with every meal every day is probably a bad idea), along with physical activity. 

Of course this is much easier said than done, because people often want quick-fix miracle cures/pills/whatever that lets them keep living unhealthy lives without feeling bad for it. Unfortunately there are no such shortcuts that are scientifically valid. Listening to Kathryn and Owen discuss the cancer risk from red and processed meat, along with the mechanistic explanation of 'how' was incredibly useful, and I hope you enjoy watching this Hangout :)___

posted image

2015-11-02 00:21:05 (13 comments; 10 reshares; 194 +1s; )Open 

Day 1 of NCRI 2015 Conference

I am at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) conference from today until Wednesday. It's the largest cancer research conference in the UK, and there are so many incredible researchers here sharing some really amazing findings from their fields. I'm going to try and post highlights here, but if you want to follow what's going on, you can check out my Twitter feed via https://twitter.com/DrHalfPintBuddy. 

One of the highlights today was a talk by Professor Charles Sawyers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre. He is one of the scientists who developed Imatinib (or Gleevec) for the treatment of a type of leukaemia known as CML - one of the first targeted treatments. 

Professor Sawyers talked about how the loss of two very important tumour suppressor genes, known as p53 and Rb (I've mentioned these beforeh... more »

Day 1 of NCRI 2015 Conference

I am at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) conference from today until Wednesday. It's the largest cancer research conference in the UK, and there are so many incredible researchers here sharing some really amazing findings from their fields. I'm going to try and post highlights here, but if you want to follow what's going on, you can check out my Twitter feed via https://twitter.com/DrHalfPintBuddy. 

One of the highlights today was a talk by Professor Charles Sawyers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre. He is one of the scientists who developed Imatinib (or Gleevec) for the treatment of a type of leukaemia known as CML - one of the first targeted treatments. 

Professor Sawyers talked about how the loss of two very important tumour suppressor genes, known as p53 and Rb (I've mentioned these before http://goo.gl/RfwqLr and http://goo.gl/m3p83P), can make prostate cancer cells change their behaviour, leading to a dramatic rise in resistance. The really weird thing is that these cells change through a mechanism known as 'lineage plasticity'. Why is this weird? Because this lineage plasticity is eerily similar to how adult cells can be made to switch back to a stem-cell state - these are known as iPSCs, or induced pluripotent stem cells - https://goo.gl/qJN3U7).

What does all this mean? It seems that cancer cells can hijack a normal cellular process in response to the stresses they encounter as a result of treatment. Being able to change in response to treatment is unfortunately how cancers are able to develop resistance, and why it can sometimes feel like cancer is one step ahead while we're constantly playing catch-up. Cancers evolve, and understanding the mechanism behind their evolution might be how we can finally develop more effective treatments. 

#NCRI2015___

posted image

2015-10-28 23:18:23 (12 comments; 9 reshares; 83 +1s; )Open 

Collections!

After the months of postponing, I finally had a chance to explore Collections. I know, I'm so late to the party that it's not even an after-party anymore. But I really do like being able to categorise all my posts by subject, and for ease of navigation I figured it's worth highlighting here. 

So without further ado, here are the five Collections I've curated. 

1. Cancer Biology: probably the most relevant Collection for those who follow me for my writing on cancer. Included is my Hallmarks of Cancer series, articles explaining how chemotherapy works, and lots of science media hype debunking!
https://plus.google.com//collection/MorsFB

2. Molecular Biology: non-cancer science writing, recommended if you want to understand more about what goes on inside a cell.
https://plus.google.com/collection/IfsZ9

3. STEMW... more »

Collections!

After the months of postponing, I finally had a chance to explore Collections. I know, I'm so late to the party that it's not even an after-party anymore. But I really do like being able to categorise all my posts by subject, and for ease of navigation I figured it's worth highlighting here. 

So without further ado, here are the five Collections I've curated. 

1. Cancer Biology: probably the most relevant Collection for those who follow me for my writing on cancer. Included is my Hallmarks of Cancer series, articles explaining how chemotherapy works, and lots of science media hype debunking!
https://plus.google.com//collection/MorsFB

2. Molecular Biology: non-cancer science writing, recommended if you want to understand more about what goes on inside a cell.
https://plus.google.com/collection/IfsZ9

3. STEM Women: Those of you who follow me know that I am a passionate advocate for women in STEM. Follow this collection for things I've posted relating to equality in STEM issues. See the +STEM Women on G+  page for more.
https://plus.google.com/collection/sLrsFB

4. Hangouts on Air: I don't always share every hangout I host to my profile page, mostly because I like to keep my profile for just the writing stuff. But sometimes the topics are just so cool it's worth sharing, and I should probably start doing this more often.
https://plus.google.com/collection/MqgsFB

5. Commentary and Photography: I have other interests outside of molecular biology! So this collection is about random topics like social media use, atheism, cooking, travel, photography etc. https://plus.google.com/collection/onRsFB

Image: Scanning electron micrograph of a cluster of breast cancer cells showing visual evidence of programmed cell death (apoptosis).
Image credit: Annie Cavanagh, Wellcome Images___

posted image

2015-10-27 16:08:28 (1 comments; 2 reshares; 37 +1s; )Open 

Cancer Immunotherapy

Since I started working at +Cancer Research UK, one of the first questions I asked the Scicomms team was "why aren't you doing Google HOAs on the amazing research that CRUK funds?". Because I've had a few years of experience hosting science HOAs and because of the thriving science communities on G+ would love this, I proposed a partnership between +Science on Google+ and +Cancer Research UK to produce and host a cancer HOA. The first topic we picked was Cancer Immunotherapy. 

Working for an organisation as large as CRUK that funds some of the best research in the world allowed me to access two of the world leading experts on the topic of cancer immunotherapy. After months of coordinating with various teams in Press, Social Media, and Scicomms, we finally did it! +Ben Willcox  and +Frances Balkwill  were fantastic guests, clearlyexplai... more »

Cancer Immunotherapy

Since I started working at +Cancer Research UK, one of the first questions I asked the Scicomms team was "why aren't you doing Google HOAs on the amazing research that CRUK funds?". Because I've had a few years of experience hosting science HOAs and because of the thriving science communities on G+ would love this, I proposed a partnership between +Science on Google+ and +Cancer Research UK to produce and host a cancer HOA. The first topic we picked was Cancer Immunotherapy. 

Working for an organisation as large as CRUK that funds some of the best research in the world allowed me to access two of the world leading experts on the topic of cancer immunotherapy. After months of coordinating with various teams in Press, Social Media, and Scicomms, we finally did it! +Ben Willcox  and +Frances Balkwill  were fantastic guests, clearly explaining how important immunotherapy is, and how it works. It was also fun to tag team the questions with my co-host +Kat Arney. In case you missed the live broadcast, you can watch the discussion on YouTube here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5McTl469Wo

Feedback would be much appreciated, because I hope this will be the first of many HOAs on cancer research. On a final note, it's been absolutely wonderful to hear from the patients and families who are directly benefiting from these new drugs (via comments on the Event Page https://goo.gl/HdRWDr). It's inspiring to hear from them, and motivates me to keep doing outreach this way. 

#ScienceEveryday   #CRUKHOA  ___

posted image

2015-10-27 16:01:26 (4 comments; 3 reshares; 24 +1s; )Open 

The Guardian of the Genome

I've been so busy these past few weeks that I never got a chance to share some good news. Since I started hosting Google Hangouts for my work a few months ago, the editor of the +Wellcome Trust science magazine known as +Mosaic wanted me to do the same for some of their features, kind of like an author Q&A. I've always been a massive fan of Mosaic ever since it launched a couple of years ago (I actually wrote about it back in Sept 2013 - https://goo.gl/rSDcFJ) so this was such exciting news for me!

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing author +Sue Armstrong about her article on the p53 cancer gene. Sue's article was intriguing because she starts off talking about families in Brazil that seem to be 'cursed' with cancer - read more at http://mosaicscience.com/story/brazils-cancer-curse.

I had a bunch ofte... more »

The Guardian of the Genome

I've been so busy these past few weeks that I never got a chance to share some good news. Since I started hosting Google Hangouts for my work a few months ago, the editor of the +Wellcome Trust science magazine known as +Mosaic wanted me to do the same for some of their features, kind of like an author Q&A. I've always been a massive fan of Mosaic ever since it launched a couple of years ago (I actually wrote about it back in Sept 2013 - https://goo.gl/rSDcFJ) so this was such exciting news for me!

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing author +Sue Armstrong about her article on the p53 cancer gene. Sue's article was intriguing because she starts off talking about families in Brazil that seem to be 'cursed' with cancer - read more at http://mosaicscience.com/story/brazils-cancer-curse.

I had a bunch of technical difficulties during this hangout, but I'm so glad the video recorded at the end :) If you have a spare 30 mins, watch this video to learn more about how p53 really is the guardian of our genome!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCaCik2bUZE
#MosaicHOA  ___

posted image

2015-10-26 20:59:43 (53 comments; 319 reshares; 363 +1s; )Open 

Red meat and cancer risk

The news is awash with stories about how red and processed meats have been classified as carcinogens in the same category as tobacco. But what exactly does this mean? Let's unpick this a little bit before throwing out the bacon with the bathwater. 

There have been several excellent bits of writing that explain what this means - the first is by Ed Yong (http://goo.gl/br9OU7) and the second by CRUK* (http://goo.gl/ELDzCI). These are well-worth a read if you want to learn more. 

Basically, the key bit of information to remember is that this is not a risk assessment, it is a hazard identification. A great analogy (stolen from the CRUK article above) is to think of banana skins - they definitely can cause accidents, but in practice it doesn't happen very often, and isn't as severe as being in a car accident. But under the hazardi... more »

Red meat and cancer risk

The news is awash with stories about how red and processed meats have been classified as carcinogens in the same category as tobacco. But what exactly does this mean? Let's unpick this a little bit before throwing out the bacon with the bathwater. 

There have been several excellent bits of writing that explain what this means - the first is by Ed Yong (http://goo.gl/br9OU7) and the second by CRUK* (http://goo.gl/ELDzCI). These are well-worth a read if you want to learn more. 

Basically, the key bit of information to remember is that this is not a risk assessment, it is a hazard identification. A great analogy (stolen from the CRUK article above) is to think of banana skins - they definitely can cause accidents, but in practice it doesn't happen very often, and isn't as severe as being in a car accident. But under the hazard identification approach, banana skins and cars would be in the same category because they both definitely cause accidents. The severity of the accident is not discussed, and that's where we tend to get lost with the breathless press releases on this topic. 

So should you stop eating red and processed meat? The answer is all about the dreaded, boring M word - moderation. If you're always eating red and processed meat, over years and years, then that's probably not good for you. But meat in moderation (i.e. not too much and not too often) is still okay, and is definitely not as bad as smoking is. The thing with diet and disease is that reality is often rather boring; there are no miracle diets or magical juice cleansers that will give you eternal youth. There are no superfoods that offset the damage of binge-drinking every weekend. That's just not how our bodies work. 

What you can do to prevent cancer is eat plenty of fruit and veg with lots of fibre while cutting back on things like alcohol, salt, red and processed meats. And definitely avoid sunburns and smoking. 

*In the interest of full disclosure, I work at the charity CRUK as a science communicator. 

#ScienceEveryday  ___

posted image

2015-10-23 18:40:25 (11 comments; 12 reshares; 115 +1s; )Open 

The Guardian of the Genome

I've been so busy these past few weeks that I never got a chance to share some good news. Since I started hosting Google Hangouts for my work a few months ago, the editor of the +Wellcome Trust science magazine known as +Mosaic wanted me to do the same for some of their features, kind of like an author Q&A. I've always been a massive fan of Mosaic ever since it launched a couple of years ago (I actually wrote about it back in Sept 2013 - https://goo.gl/rSDcFJ) so this was such exciting news for me!

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing author +Sue Armstrong about her article on the p53 cancer gene. Sue's article was intriguing because she starts off talking about families in Brazil that seem to be 'cursed' with cancer - read more at http://mosaicscience.com/story/brazils-cancer-curse.

I had a bunch ofte... more »

The Guardian of the Genome

I've been so busy these past few weeks that I never got a chance to share some good news. Since I started hosting Google Hangouts for my work a few months ago, the editor of the +Wellcome Trust science magazine known as +Mosaic wanted me to do the same for some of their features, kind of like an author Q&A. I've always been a massive fan of Mosaic ever since it launched a couple of years ago (I actually wrote about it back in Sept 2013 - https://goo.gl/rSDcFJ) so this was such exciting news for me!

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing author +Sue Armstrong about her article on the p53 cancer gene. Sue's article was intriguing because she starts off talking about families in Brazil that seem to be 'cursed' with cancer - read more at http://mosaicscience.com/story/brazils-cancer-curse.

I had a bunch of technical difficulties during this hangout, but I'm so glad the video recorded at the end :) If you have a spare 30 mins, watch this video to learn more about how p53 really is the guardian of our genome!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCaCik2bUZE
#MosaicHOA  ___

posted image

2015-10-13 19:29:56 (29 comments; 4 reshares; 77 +1s; )Open 

Weeknight celebration

One of the nicer things about living in London is how easy it is to get to places like Maitre Choux in South Kensington for dessert. Intense hit of pistachio, dark chocolate, and vanilla bean. Definitely worth a visit if you're ever in the area! 

Weeknight celebration

One of the nicer things about living in London is how easy it is to get to places like Maitre Choux in South Kensington for dessert. Intense hit of pistachio, dark chocolate, and vanilla bean. Definitely worth a visit if you're ever in the area! ___

posted image

2015-09-26 15:07:00 (37 comments; 2 reshares; 110 +1s; )Open 

Goodbye Glasgow

After almost ten years of living in Glasgow (with brief interludes to sunny tropical islands!), it's officially over. Moving to London for the foreseeable future is a step I am excited about, but I know I will miss so much about Glasgow too. The people, the food, the friendliness, and the general spirit here that made me feel so welcome.

Below is a photograph of my favourite cafe in Glasgow. It's a must-visit place with fantastic food and people. I suspect I will find many more places like this in London but for now, I'm filled with nostalgia about saying goodbye to a place that holds so many memories. Visits with friends and family, celebratory dinners after my graduation, comforting hot chocolate after job application rejections, and many more.

A small comfort is the all too familiar grey clouds that loom overhead right now. I... more »

Goodbye Glasgow

After almost ten years of living in Glasgow (with brief interludes to sunny tropical islands!), it's officially over. Moving to London for the foreseeable future is a step I am excited about, but I know I will miss so much about Glasgow too. The people, the food, the friendliness, and the general spirit here that made me feel so welcome.

Below is a photograph of my favourite cafe in Glasgow. It's a must-visit place with fantastic food and people. I suspect I will find many more places like this in London but for now, I'm filled with nostalgia about saying goodbye to a place that holds so many memories. Visits with friends and family, celebratory dinners after my graduation, comforting hot chocolate after job application rejections, and many more.

A small comfort is the all too familiar grey clouds that loom overhead right now. I definitely won't miss the weather here!
___

posted image

2015-09-03 11:01:07 (43 comments; 25 reshares; 130 +1s; )Open 

The cost of apathy

I keep seeing images of Alyan Kurdi lying face down on a beach. It is an image that tabloids like the Daily Mail have published with unrepentant hypocrisy, despite previously labelling people like him as 'hoards of migrants', stirring up the British public into a frenzy of panic and xenophobia for months since this crisis began.

I see a near-constant use of the phrase 'we need to do more', but I don't see anything changing. I read yesterday that the UK has only taken in 216 refugees so far. Out of the hundreds of thousands who have fled their homes in terror, this country has only taken in less than what it would take to fill up a subway carriage. 

I also hear the refrain "But Britain is full", as if it's an elevator jammed full of people and there's nothing that can be done to squeeze more in. I keep hearing... more »

The cost of apathy

I keep seeing images of Alyan Kurdi lying face down on a beach. It is an image that tabloids like the Daily Mail have published with unrepentant hypocrisy, despite previously labelling people like him as 'hoards of migrants', stirring up the British public into a frenzy of panic and xenophobia for months since this crisis began.

I see a near-constant use of the phrase 'we need to do more', but I don't see anything changing. I read yesterday that the UK has only taken in 216 refugees so far. Out of the hundreds of thousands who have fled their homes in terror, this country has only taken in less than what it would take to fill up a subway carriage. 

I also hear the refrain "But Britain is full", as if it's an elevator jammed full of people and there's nothing that can be done to squeeze more in. I keep hearing how we don't have money to house these "swarms of migrants", yet funnily enough there is enough money to build more walls and fences to keep these pesky migrants out. 

I see how the language being used in the media to describe these people, these refugees, these humans, is incredibly dehumanising. 'The hoards of migrants', 'the swarms of immigrants', they are lazy descriptions that allow us to disengage, to not see them as people who have lost everything.  

I read opinion pieces deploring the use of images like Alyan Kurdi's body, that their deaths are not ours to gawk at - but perhaps that's exactly the sort of image we need to shock an apathetic public and government into actually giving a shit about these people. Perhaps it is a means to an end. If the public outcry over the image of a drowned toddler is what it takes to make the people in Europe care about these refugees seeking asylum, seeking safety, seeking relief, then maybe that's what needs to happen. 

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/02/shocking-image-of-drowned-syrian-boy-shows-tragic-plight-of-refugees___

posted image

2015-08-27 22:50:26 (58 comments; 8 reshares; 64 +1s; )Open 

What Is The One Fact Humanity Needs To Know?

I've always thought +BuzzFeed was a bit of a clickbait site, but lately some of the content they've been putting out has been incredibly thought provoking. And no, I'm not just saying that because I contributed to another article of theirs :P I genuinely loved this question and enjoyed thinking up an answer. The best part is that because it's such an open-ended question, it's a wonderful opportunity to hear some very unique answers from other people.

The inspiration for this piece came from a question that Richard Feynman was once asked: "If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generation of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words?" 

He replied: "I believe it is thea... more »

What Is The One Fact Humanity Needs To Know?

I've always thought +BuzzFeed was a bit of a clickbait site, but lately some of the content they've been putting out has been incredibly thought provoking. And no, I'm not just saying that because I contributed to another article of theirs :P I genuinely loved this question and enjoyed thinking up an answer. The best part is that because it's such an open-ended question, it's a wonderful opportunity to hear some very unique answers from other people.

The inspiration for this piece came from a question that Richard Feynman was once asked: "If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generation of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words?" 

He replied: "I believe it is the atomic hypothesis that all things are made of atoms — little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another. In that one sentence, you will see, there is an enormous amount of information about the world, if just a little imagination and thinking are applied."

So, I would like to turn this question over to you :) What would your answer be? What is the one fact that humanity needs to know?

Other responses including mine: http://www.buzzfeed.com/tomchivers/how-come-no-one-mentioned-evolution-by-natural-selection#.uhQqRQ9rk___

posted image

2015-08-11 21:32:03 (61 comments; 19 reshares; 128 +1s; )Open 

Finding purpose in a purposeless Universe

So I ended up contributing to this +BuzzFeed article on atheism about how I find purpose in a purposeless Universe. My writing was text-imaged (below) so...achievement unlocked? It's not the usual clickbait, and I love how thoughtful all the responses are. I'm also rather chuffed to appear alongside an article that has +Jerry Coyne's contributions too :) 

The last quote/story in the article from Jan Doig is heartbreakingly beautiful. 

Finally, because this topic is such a deeply personal one, I made sure to speak only for myself and not anyone else. I am not seeking to force my views on others so...PSA to anyone reading this who feels the need to tell me what I should and shouldn't think - please do me the same courtesy. Thank you :)

Full articlehere... more »

Finding purpose in a purposeless Universe

So I ended up contributing to this +BuzzFeed article on atheism about how I find purpose in a purposeless Universe. My writing was text-imaged (below) so...achievement unlocked? It's not the usual clickbait, and I love how thoughtful all the responses are. I'm also rather chuffed to appear alongside an article that has +Jerry Coyne's contributions too :) 

The last quote/story in the article from Jan Doig is heartbreakingly beautiful. 

Finally, because this topic is such a deeply personal one, I made sure to speak only for myself and not anyone else. I am not seeking to force my views on others so...PSA to anyone reading this who feels the need to tell me what I should and shouldn't think - please do me the same courtesy. Thank you :)

Full article here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/tomchivers/when-i-was-a-child-i-spake-as-a-child#.fbdAmgKDj___

posted image

2015-07-24 22:45:40 (20 comments; 24 reshares; 118 +1s; )Open 

Cancer Immunotherapy

Since I started working at +Cancer Research UK, one of the first questions I asked the Scicomms team was "why aren't you doing Google HOAs on the amazing research that CRUK funds?". Because I've had a few years of experience hosting science HOAs and because of the thriving science communities on G+ would love this, I proposed a partnership between +Science on Google+ and +Cancer Research UK to produce and host a cancer HOA. The first topic we picked was Cancer Immunotherapy. 

Working for an organisation as large as CRUK that funds some of the best research in the world allowed me to access two of the world leading experts on the topic of cancer immunotherapy. After months of coordinating with various teams in Press, Social Media, and Scicomms, we finally did it! +Ben Willcox  and +Frances Balkwill  were fantastic guests, clearlyexplai... more »

Cancer Immunotherapy

Since I started working at +Cancer Research UK, one of the first questions I asked the Scicomms team was "why aren't you doing Google HOAs on the amazing research that CRUK funds?". Because I've had a few years of experience hosting science HOAs and because of the thriving science communities on G+ would love this, I proposed a partnership between +Science on Google+ and +Cancer Research UK to produce and host a cancer HOA. The first topic we picked was Cancer Immunotherapy. 

Working for an organisation as large as CRUK that funds some of the best research in the world allowed me to access two of the world leading experts on the topic of cancer immunotherapy. After months of coordinating with various teams in Press, Social Media, and Scicomms, we finally did it! +Ben Willcox  and +Frances Balkwill  were fantastic guests, clearly explaining how important immunotherapy is, and how it works. It was also fun to tag team the questions with my co-host +Kat Arney. In case you missed the live broadcast, you can watch the discussion on YouTube here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5McTl469Wo

Feedback would be much appreciated, because I hope this will be the first of many HOAs on cancer research. On a final note, it's been absolutely wonderful to hear from the patients and families who are directly benefiting from these new drugs (via comments on the Event Page https://goo.gl/HdRWDr). It's inspiring to hear from them, and motivates me to keep doing outreach this way. 

#ScienceEveryday   #CRUKHOA  ___

posted image

2015-07-14 17:58:46 (22 comments; 33 reshares; 191 +1s; )Open 

Pluto Flyby

I don't usually share meme-ish stuff but this really was too funny not to. Also, how amazing is it that our species built a thing that traveled all the way out there to send these pictures back. Truly remarkable, and suddenly gives a much-needed dose of perspective. 

Here's a great video that pays tribute to NASA's New Horizon's mission that made this possible: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/07/14/422811142/pluto-mission-gets-a-poetic-tribute

Image via http://imgur.com/gallery/Bq73vnu

Pluto Flyby

I don't usually share meme-ish stuff but this really was too funny not to. Also, how amazing is it that our species built a thing that traveled all the way out there to send these pictures back. Truly remarkable, and suddenly gives a much-needed dose of perspective. 

Here's a great video that pays tribute to NASA's New Horizon's mission that made this possible: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/07/14/422811142/pluto-mission-gets-a-poetic-tribute

Image via http://imgur.com/gallery/Bq73vnu___

posted image

2015-06-26 23:25:16 (10 comments; 13 reshares; 108 +1s; )Open 

Personalised Medicine for Cancer Treatment

I'm really excited about this weekend because I am in gorgeously sunny California for Science Foo Camp! What is Science Foo Camp you ask? Here's a quick primer - http://www.digital-science.com/events/scifoo-camp-2015/. I've never been to the Googleplex before so I'm really looking forward to it, along with meeting all the amazing people who will be at this event. I'm also looking forward to catching up with G+ friends in California as well while I'm here.

I'll be doing a 'lightning talk' on personalised medicine for cancer research. Here is a quick video explaining the basics. I really think this is the future of cancer treatment, because we know that cancer is not a single disease, and we need to think of cancer in terms of the specific mutations they carry, rather than tumour location like... more »

Personalised Medicine for Cancer Treatment

I'm really excited about this weekend because I am in gorgeously sunny California for Science Foo Camp! What is Science Foo Camp you ask? Here's a quick primer - http://www.digital-science.com/events/scifoo-camp-2015/. I've never been to the Googleplex before so I'm really looking forward to it, along with meeting all the amazing people who will be at this event. I'm also looking forward to catching up with G+ friends in California as well while I'm here.

I'll be doing a 'lightning talk' on personalised medicine for cancer research. Here is a quick video explaining the basics. I really think this is the future of cancer treatment, because we know that cancer is not a single disease, and we need to think of cancer in terms of the specific mutations they carry, rather than tumour location like 'breast' or 'lung'. The individual patient is the best model for his or her disease, and the future looks bright now that healthcare and translational research are starting to catch up. 

#ScienceEveryday   #SciFoo15  ___

posted image

2015-06-15 18:57:52 (35 comments; 10 reshares; 87 +1s; )Open 

Authenticity on Social Media: A Missed Opportunity

We all try to portray the best of ourselves online. The nature of social media allows us to carefully curate the optimal facets of our personality to share with the rest of the world. We make sure to photograph ourselves at the best angles, publicly celebrate our successes, and even put a positive spin on the setbacks, because #winning and #inspiration and #keepfighting and #whatever.

We also know from behavioural economics that "altruism can often exert a far stronger influence over our decision-making than calculation". This in turn is utilised by corporations that are increasingly becoming more 'social' as they realise that "if one wants to control other human beings, it is often far more effective to appeal to their sense of morality and social identity than to their self-interest". Marketing... more »

Authenticity on Social Media: A Missed Opportunity

We all try to portray the best of ourselves online. The nature of social media allows us to carefully curate the optimal facets of our personality to share with the rest of the world. We make sure to photograph ourselves at the best angles, publicly celebrate our successes, and even put a positive spin on the setbacks, because #winning and #inspiration and #keepfighting and #whatever.

We also know from behavioural economics that "altruism can often exert a far stronger influence over our decision-making than calculation". This in turn is utilised by corporations that are increasingly becoming more 'social' as they realise that "if one wants to control other human beings, it is often far more effective to appeal to their sense of morality and social identity than to their self-interest". Marketing executives attempt to manipulate this as they try to get their customers to share positive brand messages with each other, without a public advertising campaign through traditional avenues of TV, print, and radio. This process is rather aptly described as 'friendvertising'. (Note: if you're interested in reading more about this, here is a fascinating article by William Davies - http://goo.gl/g6HSwl)

Employees of these organisations are often knowingly or unknowingly co-opted into this campaign, as they too can share positive brand messages and act as 'brand ambassadors' for their employers. Yet this is contradicted by the token disclaimer of 'views are my own' on the bios to make it clear that our views do not represent the views of the organisation we work for. 

Social media is something that lets us find and connect with like minded individuals who share common interests. Social media is also an opportunity to engage in debate, to learn, to have our minds changed, and our horizons expanded by talking to people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Sometimes this can lead to uniting for a common cause, such as communicating science or advocating for women in STEM, two issues that many of you know I am passionate about. Indeed, my established social media presence is such that the topics I write about have a self-selected audience who (I hope!) enjoy consuming the content that I produce. 

As large corporations embrace the 'power of social' along with their employees who act as unofficial brand ambassadors, I have noticed that sometimes, brand-ambassadoring is all that these employees do. Most of their contacts are also other employees, and most of their content is promoting or discussing products or events from their employer. This is despite the 'views are my own' disclaimer, which at this point is a bit like a vestigial tail, because it is truly difficult to imagine people who have no other interests outside of their employer's. 

Social media allows us a powerful opportunity to effect positive change in this world. I am wary of coming across as a preachy 'you're doing social media wrong!' type of person, but this is such a lost opportunity! Instead of embracing the diversity of viewpoints that are afforded to us by engaging with different people, and discussing a wide range of topics, we are instead ending up with a bland, homogenous persona that is devoid of any authenticity. It limits our development, denies us the richness of fascinating discussions, and saddest of all, keeps us from forging meaningful relationships with each other. After all, isn't that the whole point of social media in the first place? 

Image credit: Pete Gamlen from http://goo.gl/g6HSwl___

posted image

2015-06-10 16:24:08 (54 comments; 13 reshares; 102 +1s; )Open 

"The Laboratory is not a Single's Bar"

Today I was asked at very short notice if I would like to be a guest on +BBC World Have Your Say for a discussion about Women in Science following the disastrous comments made by Sir Tim Hunt (http://goo.gl/cNJ8Ea).

Being on live radio is something I've never done before, despite hosting the multitude of Google+ HOAs so I was understandably nervous! But I think it went really well, and managed to show why his comments were so problematic. The other guests on the show were also fantastic, and it's really worth listening to this discussion if you can. 

Short clip: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02tczpd

Full programme: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02st6q9

"The Laboratory is not a Single's Bar"

Today I was asked at very short notice if I would like to be a guest on +BBC World Have Your Say for a discussion about Women in Science following the disastrous comments made by Sir Tim Hunt (http://goo.gl/cNJ8Ea).

Being on live radio is something I've never done before, despite hosting the multitude of Google+ HOAs so I was understandably nervous! But I think it went really well, and managed to show why his comments were so problematic. The other guests on the show were also fantastic, and it's really worth listening to this discussion if you can. 

Short clip: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02tczpd

Full programme: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02st6q9___

posted image

2015-06-07 14:55:00 (34 comments; 0 reshares; 134 +1s; )Open 


Hiking in Puck's Glen

A few weeks ago we had an unexpectedly sunny spell here in Scotland. To those of you who are uninitiated to the wonders of Scottish weather, this was an exceedingly rare event, so we decided to make the most of it and explore a hiking trail that I've been meaning to check out for ages. Situated about 1.5 hrs drive from Glasgow, along the shores of Loch Lomond, the trail is known as "Puck's Glen" and is absolutely charming. 

The pine forests are timeless and still, the silence punctuated by the sound of the wind in the trees above or the soft gurgling of the freshwater spring nearby with icy cold water. The trail is set along a series of waterfalls and pools, spanned by beautiful wooden bridges and mossy banks. The dappled sunlight filters through the greenery above, giving the place and ethereal quality. I almost expected to... more »


Hiking in Puck's Glen

A few weeks ago we had an unexpectedly sunny spell here in Scotland. To those of you who are uninitiated to the wonders of Scottish weather, this was an exceedingly rare event, so we decided to make the most of it and explore a hiking trail that I've been meaning to check out for ages. Situated about 1.5 hrs drive from Glasgow, along the shores of Loch Lomond, the trail is known as "Puck's Glen" and is absolutely charming. 

The pine forests are timeless and still, the silence punctuated by the sound of the wind in the trees above or the soft gurgling of the freshwater spring nearby with icy cold water. The trail is set along a series of waterfalls and pools, spanned by beautiful wooden bridges and mossy banks. The dappled sunlight filters through the greenery above, giving the place and ethereal quality. I almost expected to stumble across a gathering of wood nymphs or fairies sitting on the soft moss. 

The solitude was desperately needed after the manic hustle and bustle of London, and I could feel myself recharging. Scotland is an amazing place and there is still so much left to explore here. ___

posted image

2015-04-29 17:57:33 (29 comments; 31 reshares; 212 +1s; )Open 

Why is Chemotherapy Given in Cycles?

A friend recently asked why chemotherapy infusions are spaced out. Is it to allow the body a chance to recover between treatments, or is chemo actually more effective when given in cycles? How does it work?

The answer is a bit of both. Traditional chemotherapy involves drugs that are toxic for rapidly dividing cells. The theory is that because cancer cells are dividing very quickly, they will succumb to the toxic chemotherapy quicker than normal cells would. The fact that chemo affects rapidly dividing cells also explains their typical side effects; hair loss because hair follicle cells are constantly dividing, nausea and diarrhoea because the cells lining the digestive system are constantly dividing and so on. So if you take too much chemo too soon, then normal cells would be affected even more, which in turn could lead to even... more »

Why is Chemotherapy Given in Cycles?

A friend recently asked why chemotherapy infusions are spaced out. Is it to allow the body a chance to recover between treatments, or is chemo actually more effective when given in cycles? How does it work?

The answer is a bit of both. Traditional chemotherapy involves drugs that are toxic for rapidly dividing cells. The theory is that because cancer cells are dividing very quickly, they will succumb to the toxic chemotherapy quicker than normal cells would. The fact that chemo affects rapidly dividing cells also explains their typical side effects; hair loss because hair follicle cells are constantly dividing, nausea and diarrhoea because the cells lining the digestive system are constantly dividing and so on. So if you take too much chemo too soon, then normal cells would be affected even more, which in turn could lead to even more nasty side effects. 

But it’s also important to remember that the cancer cells in a tumour are at various stages of the cell cycle. The cell cycle is a programme that every cell goes through during growth and division - cells first need to double their DNA and then divide into two. 

The way chemo works is by causing DNA damage, so that cancer cells kill themselves. This happens through a process known as ‘apoptosis’. So a chemotherapy infusion kills all the cells that are in the DNA synthesis phase of the cell cycle, but doesn’t affect cancer cells that are in the other stages. By spacing it out and giving an infusion a few weeks later, the doctors are able to target the cells they couldn’t get the first time around. Normal cells usually repair the damage from chemotherapy more effectively than cancer cells, so damage to cancer cells should progressively build up without causing permanent damage to normal cells

When I explained this to my friend, she mentioned how "it’s a lot like waiting for dandelions to get big enough so they can be ripped out effectively. It’s much harder when they are tiny. But you want to actually get to them before the flowers set seed". It’s a brilliant analogy, and explains really well why chemotherapy is given in cycles. 

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/swallowtailgardenseeds/15644450971/

H/T to +Mary Anne Mohanraj for the wonderful analogy!
#ScienceEveryday  ___

posted image

2015-03-02 20:53:56 (87 comments; 14 reshares; 193 +1s; )Open 

Musings of an Academic Refugee

Three months ago, I started working at Cancer Research UK as a Science Communications Manager. The position was a temporary one; a part time, maternity cover for just one year, but I was told during my interview that there would be a possibility of making it a permanent position depending on "how things worked out". 

At first, my contract was just for working from Monday to Wednesday. But within 3 weeks of starting, I was made full time (so Monday to Friday) and then in less than 3 months I was made permanent. For the first time in my life, I have a job and an income without an obvious expiry date. This is remarkable; in science, especially for grad students and postdocs, short term contracts with low pay, with no real guarantees of a permanent position is a way of life that we tolerate well into our late 30s/early 40s. 
more »

Musings of an Academic Refugee

Three months ago, I started working at Cancer Research UK as a Science Communications Manager. The position was a temporary one; a part time, maternity cover for just one year, but I was told during my interview that there would be a possibility of making it a permanent position depending on "how things worked out". 

At first, my contract was just for working from Monday to Wednesday. But within 3 weeks of starting, I was made full time (so Monday to Friday) and then in less than 3 months I was made permanent. For the first time in my life, I have a job and an income without an obvious expiry date. This is remarkable; in science, especially for grad students and postdocs, short term contracts with low pay, with no real guarantees of a permanent position is a way of life that we tolerate well into our late 30s/early 40s. 

I have always loved science, and ever since I was a teenager, I always wanted to be a scientist. I loved the way science could answer questions. Curiosity about the world around us is one of the things that defines our species, and science was always a way for me to engage with what those answers were. So it was a little difficult to reconcile the fact that I would be leaving a career in research behind, with this new job. But then...actually getting paid for and being able to make a living out of science communication is something that I never thought could happen either. There is immense satisfaction in being appreciated for something that I am good at, and the sense of validation that comes with it feels priceless. I feel incredibly lucky to be where I am right now. 

I've had a tough couple of years, and it's an ongoing process to recognise that the circumstances involved were beyond my control, and the people involved were not my responsibility. It's very easy for troubleshooting to turn into victim-blaming, i.e. berating myself for not seeing the red flags that I somehow should have seen. My self-confidence was buoyed up only because of my friends who believed in me when I wasn't able to. 

A few weeks ago, I gave a talk to a group of final year PhD students about 'Science Communication as an Alternative Science Career' (or, as I titled it, “Musings of an Academic Refugee” :P). I've attended plenty of talks like this during my student days but never thought I'd be invited to give one. One key piece of advice that seems obvious is that outside of academia, no one really cares how many papers you have authored; for a career in science communication, what matters is evidence and examples of good scicomm. "Just Google my name" is a pretty satisfying reply to give when asked to provide these examples at a job interview :P. 

For the first time in a long time, thinking about my career does not fill me with dread like it used to, when I considered the grim reality of how few postdocs make it into permanent positions in academia. I jokingly refer to myself as an 'academic refugee', but there is a grain of truth to that description too. It is possible to love science, and continue working in science, outside of academia. It is possible to make a living out of something that brings you joy.

There is a life outside academia. ___

posted image

2015-01-04 15:20:03 (20 comments; 5 reshares; 134 +1s; )Open 

Nature's Ice Sculptures

It was a really cold frosty morning here in Cambridge and I luckily had my macro lens with me to capture it. I love how delicate the lighting and the colours are here.

Nature's Ice Sculptures

It was a really cold frosty morning here in Cambridge and I luckily had my macro lens with me to capture it. I love how delicate the lighting and the colours are here.___

posted image

2014-12-29 16:07:47 (21 comments; 22 reshares; 176 +1s; )Open 

Malignant Melanoma: Drug Resistance is Futile

As we approach the end of 2014, I want to write about targeted cancer therapy, using malignant melanoma as an example. In this article, I explain how a new drug (vemurafenib) works, and why resistance sometimes develops, and the latest research into how we can overcome this problem. 

Most melanomas have a mutation in a key gene known as B-RAF. Mutant B-RAF is a signal that tells the cancer cell to keep dividing - it is an accelerator that is jammed, so the cancer cell replicates endlessly. Knowing this mechanism allows us to target mutant B-RAF, which is the epitome of targeted therapy. Yet all is not quite as it seems, and most cancers develop resistance to B-RAF inhibitor drugs; how can we prevent the development of drug resistance, and how can we combat it when it happens? 

"Cancer is not one single disease. Evena... more »

Malignant Melanoma: Drug Resistance is Futile

As we approach the end of 2014, I want to write about targeted cancer therapy, using malignant melanoma as an example. In this article, I explain how a new drug (vemurafenib) works, and why resistance sometimes develops, and the latest research into how we can overcome this problem. 

Most melanomas have a mutation in a key gene known as B-RAF. Mutant B-RAF is a signal that tells the cancer cell to keep dividing - it is an accelerator that is jammed, so the cancer cell replicates endlessly. Knowing this mechanism allows us to target mutant B-RAF, which is the epitome of targeted therapy. Yet all is not quite as it seems, and most cancers develop resistance to B-RAF inhibitor drugs; how can we prevent the development of drug resistance, and how can we combat it when it happens? 

"Cancer is not one single disease. Even a hundred different instances of melanoma, though pathologically classified as the same disease, will have a hundred different variations; is B-RAF mutated? What about the other proteins in the ERK pathway? What about other pathways? Do the metastases have the same mutations as the primary tumour, and if not, how different are they? There is a dizzying array of possibilities, and in turn cancers have a dizzying array of variations within them. This is known as the biological heterogeneity of cancer, and it demands therapeutic heterogeneity in the way we approach it. The same treatment cannot be indiscriminately applied to all cancers. Targeted therapies that can home in on the unique vulnerabilities of a cancer with precision are the way of the future. Indeed, vemurafenib was a breakthrough in every sense of the word; it allowed a once untreatable disease to become treatable."

Read the full article here: http://www.jargonwall.com/cancer/malignant-melanoma-drug-resistance-futile/

#ScienceEveryday___

Buttons

A special service of CircleCount.com is the following button.

The button shows the number of followers you have directly on a small button. You can add this button to your website, like the +1-Button of Google or the Like-Button of Facebook.






You can add this button directly in your website. For more information about the CircleCount Buttons and the description how to add them to another page click here.

Buddhini SamarasingheCircloscope