UCL Research Roundup: February 2019

UCL Research Roundup: February 2019

UCL is a world leader in science and technology research. Corlett Novis gives us a quick overview of what’s been going on at UCL over the last month.

 

“MASTERSWITCH” FOUND IN HUMAN IMMUNE SYSTEM

A new immune pathway has been discovered in the human body which could lead to new treatments for devastating auto-immune diseases like cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease. The pathway, regulated by a microscopic “master switch” called microRNA-142, was discovered in a joint study between the UCL Cancer Institute and Kings College London which was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation on February the 11th. One of the lead researchers, professor Graham Lord, commented that “These findings represent a significant step forward in the understanding of the immune system and we believe many people worldwide may benefit.”

 

PRESTIGIOUS BIODIVERSITY AWARD GRANTED TO UCL ACADEMIC

The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award has been given to Professor Dame Georgina Mace (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) in order to recognise her contributions towards documenting the decline of biodiversity in recent years. The award was jointly shared with fellow academic Gretchen Daily from the University of Stanford in the US. In recognising their contributions, the committee noted that “the two are leaders in documenting the alarming declines in global biodiversity in the midst of our planet’s sixth extinction crisis and have developed policy and economic instruments for effective biodiversity protection.”

Source: UCL News

£12.6 MILLION GRANT AWARDED TO UCL FOR NEW AI RESEARCH CENTERS

New funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) will be used by UCL to establish two new research centres dedicated to AI research. These Centres for Doctoral Training (or CDTs) will be dedicated to two separate lines of enquiry. The first is ‘Foundational Artificial Intelligence’ which will have very close ties with industry in order to help students launch careers as AI scientists or as entrepreneurs. The second will be dedicated to ‘AI-enabled Healthcare Systems’ which will also have industry partners, including Great Ormond Street Hospital.

 

HEAVY TELEVISION USAGE LINKED TO MEMORY DECLINE IN OVER 50s

According to new UCL research, watching television for more than 3.5 hours a day will facilitate a decline in verbal memory in later life. Published on the 28t of February in the journal Scientific Reports, the study analysed data from 3,662 individuals from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) and found that those who watched TV for more than 3.5 hours a day were twice as large of a decline in memory than those who did not. The study found this to be independent of other socio-economic, behavioural and lifestyle factors including time spent sitting down.

According to UCL researcher Dr Daisy Fancourt, “there has been interest for over a decade in the effect of television viewing behaviours on cognition, but much of this literature has concentrated on children. Much less attention has been paid to the effects of television viewing at the other end of the lifespan, despite it being hypothesised for over 25 years that watching excessive television could contribute to the development of dementia.”

Featured Image: Electron microscope image of human t-cells (red).