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THE SCIENTIST’S SCRIBE
 Royal Holloway, University of London
 School of Biological Sciences

Undergraduate Dates & Deadlines Year III

Please also do not forget to register for the 2014 yearbook:
 
 http://www.gradfinale.co.uk/students/ register
 
 Please refer to Nikki Moss’ email of Nov 14th 2013 for details of this keepsake from your time at RHUL.

A number of our staff have had their work publicised in the national media recently. Prof Mark Brown, Dr Nigel Raine and Gemma Baron were interviewed by most national newspapers, Radio 5 Live and ITV for their work on pesticides and bees. Dr Dave Morritt appeared in a similar array of papers and on Radio 4 about his work on plastic rubbish in the Thames. Dr Francisco Ubeda was featured in the Daily Mail for his work on mood swings during menopause and Prof Robin Williams’s work on use of the amoeba in the study of Alzheimer’s is currently on the College news page.

Year II Prof Mark Brown will be talking to you all in the week after reading week, about conduct of a project and its selection. Please make sure you attend this session, which will be posted on Moodle.

The PG symposium this year will be on April 29 & 30.

from the Head of School


Since the last School E-Zine, there has been further research grant success for the School, with over £1M in income. Prof Paul Fraser has been awarded £773,000 from the EU for a study of the sustainable generation of high value plant products, Prof Simon Cutting has been awarded £367,000 from DEFRA/BBSRC for work on control of C. difficile while Prof George Dickson has secured £230,000 for his work on muscular dystrophy treatment.

Thursday 27 March 2014
 
 Hand in deadline for dissertations: Thursday 13 March 2014

Dates & Deadlines

Letter

I am so pleased to see the first edition of this newsletter. Please do give it your support, with articles, notices, campaigns etc. The more that is contributed, the more interesting it will be!

The hand in deadline for Term1/Term2 projects:


Postgraduate

There are a number of deadlines coming up this term, but perhaps one of the most important is the National Student Survey for those of you in your third year. It is critical that you take advantage of this opportunity to express your views, so that our sample size is as large and accurate as possible. The survey is completely anonymous and can be done in a few minutes. Please do it today! www.thestudentsurvey.com. As always, if you have any comments about the School, please do let me know!


!

Professor Alan Gange


In conversation with 


Professor Mark Brown
 BY MARY MIN
 Second Year Medical Biochemist!

!!

The use  of  Pyrethroid  pes0cide  has  affected  the  bees  in  our  dynamic  eco-­‐ system.  But  to  what  extent?   Recently  Professor  Mark  Brown,  Dr  Nigel  Raine  and  Gemma  Baron  (PhD   student)   published   a   paper   in   the   Journal   of   Applied   Ecology   which   delved   into   the   effects   of   the   use   of   the   Pyrethroid   pes0cide   on   individual   bees.   It   was   discovered   that   the   exposure   resulted   in   smaller   working  bees  which  subsequently  had  a  knock  on  effect  on  its  role  in  the   ecosystem  in  which  it  once  bloomed  in.     Mary   asks   Royal   Holloway's   Professor   Brown   about   his   research   interests   with  an  insight  into  his  recently  published  paper.   MM:  What  made  you  research  about  bees  (as  I  can  see  some  here)?
 MB:   Serendipity   really,   I   did   my   undergraduate   project   on   birds   and   I   did   my  PhD  on  ants.  With  the  birds  I  was  looking  at  parental  care  and  with   the  ants  I  was  looking  at  territoriality;  how  they  use  space   and   how   encounters   change   what   they   do!   AVer   my   PhD   I   was   unemployed   and   I   was   looking   for   postdoctoral   [posi0ons]  for  about  6  or  7  months  living  with  my  dad.  I   Bees applied  for  a  lot,  all  of  which  was  in  my  area  of  interest.   One   came   up   on   bumblebees,   looking   at   how   they   interact  with  parasites  which  is  all  about  encounters,  it’s  what  I  did  in  my   PhD  on  ants!  I  was  offered  the  posi0on  and  I  accepted  it  because  I  didn’t   have   any   other   offers!   I’ve   been   working   on   bees   ever   since   and   I’m   really  glad  I  got  that  opportunity.   MM:  So,  tell  us  what  your  research  is  about.
 Bees MB:   Okay,   so   we   basically   do   two   major   areas   of   research.   We’re  interested  in  how  hos0ng  parasites  interact  with  each   other,   so   why   do   some   parasites   hurt   their   host   a   lot,   why   some   hurt   them  a  li]le  bit  and  how  the  host  defend  themselves  against  parasites.   That’s  sort  of  the  big  general  ques0on  in  evolu0onary  biology,  but  we’re   also   interested   in   the   conserva0on   of   social   insects,   so   ants,   bees,   wasps   and  par0cularly  in  the  conserva0on  of  bees.  So  one  of  the  major  threats   that   bees   face   are   actually   parasites   -­‐   not   their   na0ve   parasites   but   emergent   parasites.   They   sort   of   spread   from   other   species   so   there,   the   two   interests   come   together   where   our   knowledge   from   parasites   and   our  knowledge  about  their  conserva0on  link  up  quite  nicely.  In  addi0on   to  those,  we  study  general  stuff  about  the  biology  of  social  insects,  ants,   bees   and   even   wasps   are   actually   really   cool   and   there   are   lots   of   ques0ons  about  them  that  haven’t  been  asked  and  that  we  want  to  find   the  answers  to.   MM:  If  you  were  to  begin  again,  are  there  any  changes  you  would  make   in  the  way  you  conducted  your  research?
 MB:  Oh  my  goodness,  that’s  a  really  good  ques0on!  I  would  have  more   skills   in   gene0cs   because   gene0cs   has   become   really   important   in   conserva0on   and   in   host   parasite   biology.   I   have   fairly   good  skills  but  nowadays  my  PhD  students  and  my  post   docs  have  a  lot  more  than  I  do  and  I  wish  that  I  have  had   Bees the   0me   and   opportunity   to   learn   more   so   all   of   those   organismal   biologists   who   are   reading   this,   make   sure  

that you   actually   really   get   on   top   of   the   molecular   stuff   because   it’s   a   really  important  tool  for  us!   MM:  What  are  your  research  plans  for  the  next  few  years?
 MB:  Oh  my  god  to  get  more  funding,  but  more  seriously..  we  understand   the   basic   dynamics   of   emerging   infec0ous   diseases   and   wild   bees   now,   what   I   want   to   know   in   five   years’   0me,   I   want   to   be   able   to   say   what   impact   they’re   really   having,   how   can   we   manage   commercial   bees   so   that  wild  bees  are  okay  and  are  there  any  other  emerging  diseases  that   we  haven’t  found  yet  that  actually  are  really  importantly.   MM:   How   would   you   explain   the   broader   significance   of  your  research  to  an  educated  layperson?
 MB:   So   bees   are   absolutely   essen0al,   they   pollinate   Bees crops   and   wildflowers.   Without   bees   and   other   pollinators   we   would   lose   about   a   third   of   out   diet,   we’d   lose   all   the   really   good   bits,   all   the   fruit,   a   lot   of   vegetables   would   disappear   and   if   we   lost   the   wildflower   the   world   would  be  a  much  poorer  place  to  look  at  and  that  would  be,  I  think  very   sad.   The   work   we’re   doing   is   related   to   the   conserva0on   of   those   bees   and   the   impact   of   parasites   that   are   having   direct   effects   on   the   management  of  the  conserva0on  of  bees.  So  I  guess  another  answer  to   the  ques0on  where  I’d  be  in  five  years’  0me,  hopefully  I’ll  be  in  a  world   where  bees  are  actually  doing  be]er.   MM:  In  general,  where  do  research  strengths  and  weaknesses  lie  in  the   world?
 MB:   I   think   we’re   really   good   at   answering   very   specific   ques0ons.   As   scien0sts  and  the  scien0fic  community  as  a  whole  we’re  much  less  good   at   answering   ques0ons   that   you   can’t   answer,   with   good   scien0fic   experiments,   and   taking   those   answers   out   to   real   world   prac0ce.   In   conserva0on   that’s   central   to   what   you   do,   but   surprisingly   a   lot   of   conserva0on  biologists  don’t  do  it  and  I  think  we  need  to  get  a  lot  be]er   about  doing  that  without  abandoning  pure  research.   MM:  Where  do  you  professionally  see  yourself  in  five  years?
 MB:  Here,  *laughs*  hopefully  here.  I’m  very  happy  at  Royal  Holloway.  I   enjoy   the   undergraduate   students,   you’re   a   really   nice   bunch   on   the   whole.  It’s  a  fantas0c  place  to  do  research,  a  great  group  of  academics,   it’s  a  fun  place  to  work  and  it’s  also  a  very  professional  place  to  work  and   I  like  all  those  things.   MM:  So,  is  your  recently  published  paper  in  Nature  taking  a  step  in  that   direc0on?  
 MB:   Yes,   the   paper   that   came   out   on   Monday,   was   one   of   by   a   PhD   student   Gemma   Baron,   who   is   a   co-­‐supervised   student   of   myself   and   Nigel   Raine.   Gemma’s   work   is   on   the   interac0on   between   parasites,   pes0cides  and  the  impact  they  have  on  bees.  Gemma’s  work  which  came   out  on  Monday  got  loads  of  media  coverage  which  was  fantas0c,  it  was   in  all  the  papers!  ITV  came  and  filmed  us  in  the  school  in   the  aVernoon  and  there  was  a  camera  crew  in  the  labs.  It   was  all  very  exci0ng.  It’s  about  the  impact  of  a  par0cular   Bees pes0cide  on  bumblebee  colonies.  Watch  this  space,  in  a   few   weeks’   0me   we   have   a   really   big   paper   coming   out   which  I’m  hoping  will  get  a  lot  of  coverage  about  emerging  diseases  and   bumblebees.   But   I   can’t   say   anymore   because   it’s   under   a   media   embargo.   MM:  And  lastly,  do  you  have  a  pet  bee?
 MB:   *Laughs*   I   wouldn’t   recommend   having   pet   bees,   I   would   recommend  keeping  a  nice  garden  where  you  can  sit  in  the  sun  watching   the   bees   pollinate   your   flowers   for   free   and   just   realise   how   beau0ful   they  are.  

!


Dallas Buyers Club and the ethics behind providing the terminally ill access to experimental treatments
 
 BY CHANDIKA JAYASEKERA


!

Second Year Biochemist

Dallas Buyers   Club   is   an   Oscar   nominated   2013   biographical-­‐drama   film   telling   the   true   story   of   Ron   Woodroof,   a   Texas-­‐based   homophobic   rodeo   enthusiast  who  was  diagnosed  with  HIV  in  1986,  a  0me  in  which  the  s0gma   surrounding   the   HIV/AIDS   epidemic   was   at   its   prime.   Having   previously   been   let   down   and   nearly   killed   by   the   side   effects   of   ineffec0ve   drugs,   while   poten0ally   lifesaving   drugs   remained   unapproved   by   the   Food   and   Drug  Administra0on  (the  US  drug  regulatory  body),  the  film  focusses  on  the   redemp0on  of  his  character  through  his  worldwide  search  for  experimental   drugs   and   his   founda0on   of   the   Dallas   Buyers   Club,   an   organisa0on   providing  these  unapproved  drugs  to  HIV  vic0ms.  The  film  also  serves  as  a   cri0cism  of  drug  regulatory  bodies  and  also  addresses  the  ques0on:  “what   rights   do   terminally   ill   pa0ents   have   to   experimental   drugs   that   may   poten0ally  prolong  their  lives?”    The  film  is  another  addi0on  to  the  ongoing   debate   surrounding   this   ethical   issue,   an   issue   whose   complexity   ensures   that  this  worldwide  debate  will  con0nue  for  a  very  long  0me.     Compassionate Access

The opponents   of   organisa0ons   such   as   the   Dallas   Buyers   Club   state   that   they   do   very   li]le   to   help   the   health   of   the   terminally   ill   apart   from   providing   them   with   a   feeling   of   false   hope   while   poten0ally   purng   the   quality   of   their   life   at   risk.     Inevitably,   when   you   provide   someone   with   an   untested   treatment   which   may   save   their   life,   inappropriate   expecta0ons   would   put   upon   it,   even   it   is   against   the   pa0ent’s  be]er  judgement.    If  the  opponents  of  compassionate  access  are   right,  and  all  these  treatments  would  do  is  provide  the  recipient  with  false   hope  then  the  ques0on  the  pa0ent  is  leV  with  is  this:     “Would  it  be  be,er  approach  the  end  of  your  life  with  a  feeling  of  hope,   false  or  otherwise,  or  hopelessness?”  

“Reality vs. Fiction in Gravity”
 BY JUSTINE BRAITHWAITE 


Second Year Film Studies

Gravity, released  in  2013  and  directed  by  Alfonso  Cuarón,  is  a  film  about  Dr.   Ryan   Stone   (Sandra   Bullock),   a   medical   engineer   on   her   first   mission   to   repair   the   Hubble   space   telescope.   However,   the   mission   goes   horribly   wrong   and   Stone   and   her   colleague   Ma]   Kowalski   (George   Clooney)   are   leV  stranded  in  space  with  their  only  hope  of  escape  riding  on  shu]les  on   the   Interna0onal   and   Tiangong   space   sta0ons.   Gravity   marks   a   great   landmark   in   the   portrayal   of   space   in   film,   with   some   of   the   technology   developed   for   the   produc0on   of   Gravity   being   on   the   curng   edge   of   CGI   technology.  But  just  how  true  to  life  is  Gravity’s  presenta0on  of  space?  

If a  person  has  been  given  a  limited  amount  of  0me  to  live,  isn’t  it  a  basic   There   are   many   small   inconsistencies   in   the   presenta0on   of   gravity,   in   human  right  to  a]empt  to  prolong  that  period  by  any  means  necessary  as   par0cular,   in   the   film.   For   a   film   0tled   ‘Gravity’   one   would   imagine   that   long   as   no   others   are   harmed?     If   this   person   is   prepared   to   accept   the   these   small   devia0ons   from   reality   risks,  what  right  does  anyone  have  to   would   have   been   ironed   out   very   bar   them   access   to   poten0ally   early   in   the   crea0ve   process.   For   lifesaving  medica0on?    These  are  the   ‘The quality of a person’s life at the time of death example,   Stone’s   body   moves   like   m a i n   a r g u m e n t s   u s e d   w h e n   she’s   floa0ng   in   zero   gravity   and   yet   defending   the   idea   of   providing   t e r m i n a l l y   i l l   p a 0 e n t s   her   hair   stays   firmly   planted   to   her   is just as important as the time at which they “ c o m p a s s i o n a t e   a c c e s s ”   t o   head.  There  is  also  a  scene  in  which   experimental   drugs.   Proponents   of   she   begins   to   cry   aVer   realising   that   t h i s   i d e a   h av e   o rga n i s a 0 o n s   die.’ she  may  actually  die  in  space.  As  she   worldwide,  the  most  well-­‐known  one   cries  we  are  shown  a  close-­‐up  of  her   being  US-­‐based  Abigail  Alliance.     as   a   tear   rolls   down   her   cheek   and   floats   off   her   face.   In   reality   the   tear   would   have   floated   right   out   of   her   The  UK-­‐based  organisa0on  is  known  as  The  Right  to  Try  Campaign,  whose   eye.   founda0on   was   inspired   by   high   profile   cases   such   as   that   of   3   year   old   Lily   MacGlashan,  who  was  denied  an  unapproved  treatment  for  neuroblastoma   by  the  NHS  before  going  to  America  for  successful  treatment.   The Hippocratic Oath There   are   several   valid   arguments   against   compassionate   access,   many   of   them   based   around   the   side   effects   of   the   drugs.   The   first   of   these   is   the   argument   that   if   a   doctor   was   to   provide   a   pa0ent   access   to   an   experimental   drug   with   poten0ally   harmful   side   effects,   the   Hippocra0c   Oath,   which   states   that   medical   prac00oners   must   “never   do   harm   to   anyone”,   would   be   violated.     However,   although   this   argument   may   be   clear   cut   against   any   other   pa0ent,   the   terminally   ill   could   argue   that   there   is  no  worse  harm  than  death,  and  providing  these  drugs  would  fulfil  what   Hippocrates   stated   in   Epidemics   1,   that   medical   prac00oners,   above   all   else,  must  “do  good.”     ‘The  quality  of  a  person’s  life  at  the  0me  of  death  is  just  as  important  as  the   0me  at  which  they  die.’     This   statement   is   another   argument   used   against   compassionate   access,   saying  that  providing  pa0ents  with  be]er  access  to  alterna0ve  forms  of  end   of  life  care,  such  as  hospices,  is  more  beneficial  than  providing  them  with   poten0ally  harmful  treatments.    However  this  argument  can  be  countered   by   the   fact   that   pa0ents   with   a   limited   life   expectancy   should   be   allowed   the   same   right   as   any   other   individual,   to   determine   their   own   benefit:   risk   ra0o.      

Hope

Not only   does   the   film   distort   the   laws   of   gravity,   there   are   also   a   few   notable   spa0al   inconsistencies.   To   escape   to   earth   Stone   is   required   to   travel   in   between   space   shu]les,   in   completely   different   orbits   at   a   distance   of   around   100   miles,   in   order   to   find   a   working   escape   shu]le.   However,   theore0cally,   even   though   the   journey   Stone   takes   is   possible   it   would   be   very   difficult   for   even   the   most   experienced   astronaut   to   achieve   this  with  the  appropriate  equipment.  Let  alone  the  single  jetpack  Kowalski   uses  which  was  last  used  in  an  actual  space  mission  in  the  late  1980’s.  In  all   likeliness  an  actual  astronaut  would  not  even  have  a]empted  such  a  fu0le   mission  because  of  just  how  low  the  success  rate  actually  is.   On   this   note,   another   completely   unrealis0c   element   of   the   film   is   the   equipment  used  by  the  astronauts.  Underneath  Stones  suit  she  wears  a  set   of   modest   undergarments   and   that   is   all.   When   in   reality   individuals   travelling  in  space  a  required  to  wear  many  layers  of  protec0ve  clothing  to   shield  them  from  the  incredibly  low  temperature  in  space,  debris  and  fire.   Which  is  important  to  note  because  there  is  a  scene  in  which  Stone  is  on   the   Tiangong   space   sta0on,   which   catches   fire.   In   reality   she   wouldn’t   have   survived  the  blast  even  if  she  had  been  wearing  all  the  necessary  protec0ve   clothing  items.   Overall,  Gravity  is  an  excellent  film  in  its  piercing  visuals  and  rive0ng  story   line.  But  when  considering  how  much  effort  went  into  making  the  film  as   realis0c   as   possible   it   seems   strange   that   there   are   so   many   small   dispari0es   between   the   presenta0on   of   working   in   space   in   the   film   and   what  space  is  actually  like.  


Serendipity in science! BY DAVID LAMB
 Second Year Molecular Biologist ! Some of   the   greatest   scien0fic   discoveries   of   all   0me   were   made   en0rely   by   accident.   When   you   take   a   cursory   glance   at   the   history   of   science,   it   can   some0mes  look  like  a  long  list  of  extra-­‐ordinary  flukes;  a  sort  of  ‘right  place  at   the  right  0me’  business.  Yet  somehow  we’ve  arrived  at  this  roman0c  no0on  of   scien0sts  as  deliberate  and  purposeful  inquisitors  of  nature,  the  very  concepts   of   the   ‘eureka’   moment   and   ‘Newton’s   apple’   imply   that   we   think   scien0sts   are   perfect   induc0ve   logicians,   with   varying   degrees   of   genius.   However,   I   think   this   is   only   part   of   the   picture;   blind   accidents   and   dumb   luck   have   a   much  larger  role  in  scien0fic  progress  than  you  might  think.  

understanding of   astrophysics   no   ma]er   how   long   they   were   around   for.   How   fortunate  we  are  to  be  born  so  soon  in  the  life  of  the  universe  that  everything   is  s0ll  close  enough  to  be  seen!     But  what  does  that  mean  for  science?    What  about  its  tradi0on  of  deduc0on   and  logic  and  pure  ra0onality,  does  it  all  ul0mately  boil  down  to  luck?  By  no   means,   I   s0ll   there   is   great   skill   and   reason   involved   in   the   progression   of   science,  it’s  just  important  not  to  deny  the  role  of  luck  so  far.   Alexander  Fleming  was  a  trained  scien0fic  mind,  when  he  walked  into  the  lab   that   fateful   day   and   no0ced   something   unexpected   he   didn’t   just   brush   it   aside   and   start   over,   he   no0ced   its   implica0ons   and   set   about   looking   deeper;   this   is   the   essence   of   Science.   It   is   not   necessarily   about   pure,   ra0onal   or   conscious   deduc0on   (though   that   would   be   ideal),   but   more   no*cing   those   unexpected   phenomena   and   flukes   when   they   arise   in   nature,   documen0ng   them,   and   a]emp0ng   to   understand   them.   Perhaps   science   is   more   about   being   watchful,   and   not   lerng   even   the   seemingly   insignificant   li]le   anomalies  escape  your  a]en0on.    

Science is   more   akin   to   photography   when   considered   in   these   terms.   The   photographer,  like  the  scien0st,  is  dependent  ul0mately  on  his  equipment;  its   scope,  resolu0on  and  quality  will  all  affect  the  outcome  of  his  work.  He  must   be   ever   watchful   and   observant,   with   all   his   We   know   that   Alexander   Fleming   discovered   powers   of   observa0on   trained   on   his   subject.   an0bio0cs   purely   by   accident,   when   through   There   is   also   a   combina0on   of   luck   and   his   poor   laboratory   protocol   he   allowed   a   “…the seeds of Einstein’s theory” proficiency,  neither  is  more  important,  without   fungus   to   contaminate   a   petri   dish   of   fortunate   accidents   we   could   not   hope   to   prolifera0ng   bacteria.   The   very   next   morning   make   much   progress   at   all,   and   without   the   he   no0ced   that   there   was   a   clear   and   ability  to  no0ce  and  u0lize  these  mistakes  then   impregnable   ring   around   the   fungus   that   the   we   would   also   be   unable   to   advance.   As   developmental   biologist   Hans   growing  bacterial  colony  could  apparently  not  invade.  He  subsequently  found   Spemann  noted:  “You  may  well  make  a  discovery  without  intending  to  do  so,   out   that   the   fungus   itself   released   a   protein   that   would   prevent   bacterial   but  not  without  no0cing  it.”   growth   as   a   natural   self-­‐defence   mechanism.   Hey   presto,   an0bio0cs   for   the   masses.  No  longer  do  people  die  by  the  millions  of  silly  old  infec0ons.  I  can’t   think  of  a  single  person  I  know  who  hasn’t  undergone  an0bio0c  treatment  at   some  point  in  their  lives,  all  because  of  a  lab-­‐accident.   Even   the   seeds   of   Einstein’s   theory   of   rela0vity   can   be   traced   back   to   the   mishaps  of  a  few  plucky  19th  century  astronomers  who  set  out  to  measure  the   speed   of   light   bouncing   off   of   the   speeding   Earth   in   the   direc0on   it   was   travelling.   According   to   Newton   it   should   be   faster   than   normal   light,   as   you’d   have   to   add   the   speed   of   light   to   the   speed   of   the   Earth.   Just   as   if   a   man   is   walking  down  the  carriage  of  a  moving  train,  his  total  speed  is  a  combina0on   of   the   train’s   speed   and   his   own   walking   pace.   But   bizarrely,   when   they   measured,   it   was   the   same.   Light   did   not   get   faster   (or   slower)   at   all,   in   fact   light  is  always  travelling  at  the  speed  of  light  rela0ve  to  anyone,  however  fast   they’re   moving   themselves.   Luckily   they   documented   this   phenomenon   well   enough  for  a  young  Albert  Einstein  to  ponder  many  decades  later  and  in  turn   revolu0onise  the  en0re  field  of  physics.   In  fact,  these  examples  of  lucky  observers  pale  in  comparison  to  the  example   made   famous   by   physicist   Lawrence   Krauss   in   his   book   ‘A   Universe   from   Nothing’.  As  we  all  know,  the  universe  is  expanding,  which  means  everything   is   gerng   further   away   from   everything   else.   More   space   is   literally   being   created   between   things   pushing   them   further   apart.   Recently   we   discovered   that   not   only   is   the   universe   expanding,   but   the   rate   of   expansion   itself   is   accelera0ng,   so   in   a   short   few   billion   years,   every   galaxy   will   be   so   far   away   from  every  other  galaxy  that  each  one  will  be  effec0vely  isolated.  Galaxies  will   be  the  dessert  islands  of  space,  surrounded  by  nothing  but  an  incredibly  vast   expanse   so   big   that   even   light   can’t   traverse  it.    

Biodiversity - A major challenge for the 21st century


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BY JESSICA BRODHOLT
 First Year Zoologist!

Joining the ranks of biologists concerned with the preservation of biodiversity, Professor emeritus Edward O. Wilson of Harvard University argues that maintaining our planet’s biodiversity is one of the key issues humanity faces at this moment. He wrote in The Economist (The World in 2014, 131) that biodiversity is critical for Earth’s survival, the way we know it and questions whether we will ever stop to think about the harm we are inflicting on the planet. After all, biodiversity directly benefits humans by ensuring we have access to enough food for survival, has enabled the development of biotechnology and there are several plants from which pharmaceuticals can be derived, many of which we may know nothing about yet. There are also some indirect benefits to having a high diversity of organisms such as environmental and climatic regulation, along with the purification of freshwater and air.

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The media tends to disguise the declining biodiversity of the planet by focusing on how many new species are discovered each year. For instance it was made known in 1758 that Carl Linnaeus (a Swedish botanist and zoologist) began the taxonomic classification system, which is still in use today. He estimated there to be roughly 20,000 species worldwide, an estimate which has since been proven inaccurate due to the number of species already discovered peaking closer to 2 million. It is now believed there could be as many as 5 million to 100 million species yet to be discovered.

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C u r r e n t l y, s c i e n t i s t s a r e Here’s the   amazing   part:   If   intelligent   “…the harm we are inflicting on the planet” discovering approximately 20,000 life   were   to   evolve   in   any   of   these   new species a year, but as galaxies   during   the   coming   ‘age   of   Professor Wilson writes: “at this isola0on’,   they   themselves   would   have   rate, and taking the low-end estimate of 5m species remaining to be classified, the task will not be completed no   method   of   knowing   that   the   universe   was   expanding.   If   they   looked   until the middle of the 23rd century.” outwards  they’d  see  nothing  beyond  the  few  stars  huddled  together  in  their   own   galaxy,   suspended   in   endless   black   void.   They   wouldn’t   be   able   to   The outstanding question being how can we care for the plethora of measure   red-­‐shiV   or   the   astronomical   distances   between   celes0al   bodies,   species on Earth and attempt to prevent the extinction of so many of these they   would   have   no   concep0on   of   black   holes   or   singulari0es.   They   would   when we are not even aware of their existence? have   to   assume   that   a   simple,   eternal,   steady   state   model   of   the   universe   is   th true.   To   put   it   simply,   they’d   never   get   further   than   a   basic,   18   century  

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There are already projects being undertaken to maintain the biodiversity of our planet which are believed to have slowed the loss of biodiversity by one fifth already. But it is crucial that this effort be continued before another species has to face extinction. The current extinction rate is the loss of 0.01% of species every year (between 1,000 and 10,000 times more than the natural extinction rate) according to figures from the WWF.

Side effects of the pharmaceutical industry BY EMILY HILBOURNE 
 Second Year Medical Biochemist !

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Hereby, now is the time that humans face the moral dilemma of do we continue to exploit the environment for our own benefit or do we preserve the world as it is for future generations by preventing the decline and/or extinction of thousands of species? Now is the time to decide.

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The Science Of faith BY CHRISTOPHER HUCKLE
 Second Year Medical Biochemist


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Science is  glorious.  We  look  at  this  world  and  its  inhabitants,  or  beyond  this   world  into  space  or  the  realms  of  theore0cal  physics  and  mathema0cs.  We   discover   miracles   and   then   we   invent   our   own.   We   fall   in   love   with   the   infinite   splendour   of   the   universe   and   wonder   at   the   infinite   poten0al   of   the  future.  

The year   754AD   saw   the   world’s   first   known   pharmacy   open   in   Baghdad.   This  soon  became  a  popular  sight  in  the  medieval  Islamic  world,  and  soon   the   Europeans   co]oned   on.   The   early   1900s   saw   major   discoveries   including   that   of   penicillin   and   since   then   the   number   of   drugs   being   discovered  has  increased  exponen0ally.     Today   889   million   prescrip0ons   were   dispensed   overall   in   2009,   according   to  UK  na0onal  sta0s0cs.     These  are  prescrip0ons  given  by  doctors  based  on  trial  data  and  published   ar0cles  in  pres0gious  journals  such  as  the  Bri0sh  Medical  Journal.  Doctors   need  this  to  guide  them  through  the  ever  evolving  world  of  medicine.  But   there   is   also   unpublished   data.   It   sits   in   filing   cabinets   hoping   to   be   forgo]en,  because  it  goes  against  everything  it  should  in  fact  support.  The   people   behind   the   drug   do   not   want   you   to   know   it   even   exists.   Here   is   why.  

The pharmaceu0cal   industry   is   in   fact   epically   deceiving   everyone.   The   woeful   story   of   Reboxi0ne   provides   one   of   many   examples.   This   is   an   an0depressant  designed  to  treat  unipolar  depression,  but  is  actually  worse   It's   easy   whilst   delving   into   the   hows,   whats   and   whys   to   see   a   hugely   than   useless.   When   it   first   came   onto   the   market   in   1997,   the   published   complex   pain0ng   with   splashes   of   stardust,   cardiovascular   systems   and   trial   data   was   overwhelmingly   in   its   favour.   It   was   be]er   than   a   placebo,   atomic  interac0ons.  So  naturally  when  musing  over  all  this,  a  big  ques0on   safe  and  effec0ve.  The  trial  itself  was  well  designed,  and  only  fair  tests  were   oVen  wanders  in:  where  did  it  all  come  from?   conducted.  However,  in  October  2010  a  systema0c  review  was  carried  out   We  have  the  wonderful  theories  of  the  Big   obtaining   all   of   the   data   produced   during   Bang   (not   the   TV   show,   mind   you),   t h e   t r i a l s ,   b o t h   p u b l i s h e d   a n d   primordial   soup   and   evolu0on,   which   unpublished.   From   here,   a   completely   eloquently  give  us  plausible  ideas  of  how   “…the infinite potential of the future” different   story   came   to   light.   Reboxi0ne   it   all   happened...   But   what   about   why   it   was   no   longer   a   wonder   drug,   but   happened?   What   about   concepts   of   unveiled  as  nothing  be]er  than  a  placebo,   purpose,   love   and   imagina0on?   What   and   was   in   the   conclusion   of   the   review,   about  faith  in  something  divine?   seen   as   merely   “an   ineffec0ve   and   poten0ally   harmful   drug”.   The   vast   I  dare  say  that  every  person  has  faith  in  something.  I  had  faith  that  my  chair   majority  of  the  trial  data  for  this  drug  was  not  published  in  1997,  but  kept   wouldn't   collapse   when   I   sat   down   to   write   this.   Any   scien0st   has   faith   in   hidden.   Sadly,   this   story   is   not   uncommon.   Drug   companies   simply   don   not   theories  they  believe  are  true  but  as  of  yet  cannot  completely  prove.  Faith   want  to  publish  data  that  makes  their  drugs  look  bad.  Despite  regula0ons   should   not   be   blind,   but   is   based   on   evidence.   So   why   are   science   and   faith   to  prevent  this,  they  are  s0ll  able  to  bypass  this  perfectly  legally.     so  oVen  seen  as  incompa0ble?  

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In terms  of  learning  about  the  universe,  I  believe  they  are  two  sides  of  the   same  coin.  Science  is  the  how,  faith  is  the  what  and  why.  Flip  open  a  Bible   and  you'll  find  descrip0ons  of  shining  stars,  but  you  won't  learn  how  they   fuse  atoms  to  do  so.  Conversely,  open  a  neuroscience  textbook  and  you'll   learn   about   serotonin   in   the   brain,   but   it   can't   describe   love.   You   need   to   look  in  the  right  place  for  the  right  thing.  

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I'm not  silly  enough  to  dismiss  overwhelming  evidence  for  the  sake  of  my   beliefs,  we  can't  deny  truth  when  it's  plain  to  see,  but  neither  do  I  see  any   contradic0on  between  scien0fic  truth  and  my  faith.  There  have  been  0mes   when   I've   thought   “Hang   on   a   moment...”   before   having   to   do   more   research.  When  pondering  such  concepts,  who  wouldn't  have  to  stop  and   rethink  now  and  then?  But  never  have  I  come  to  a  place  where  I've  thought   “I  give  up,  one  clearly  disproves  the  other”.  Never.    My  beliefs  give  me  the   drive   and   joy   to   discover   more   about   the   methods   behind   the   universal   pain0ng,   and   what   I   learn   does   nothing   if   not   reinforce   my   amazement   and   apprecia0on  of  the  painter.  

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So in  my  studies,  from  the  smallest  cell  to  the  largest  ecosystem,  I  do  not   see   a   complete   hub   where   God   needs   to   be   shoehorned   in   somehow.   No,   I   see   that   pain0ng,   beau0fully   framed   by   somebody   who   poured   such   passion,   imagina0on   and   joy   into   each   brush   stroke,   making   it   all   come   alive.   I   am   a   biochemist   with   a   faith   that   flows   through   every   molecule   I   study;  a  Bible  verse  wrapped  around  Avogadro's  constant.  

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But how  exactly  do  science  and  faith  fit  together?    

Ben Goldacre,   a   doctor   and   published   author,   writes   on   this   con0nuous   ba]le   to   fix   the   rather   corrupt   pharmaceu0cal   industry.   Bringing   to   light   how  u]erly  misled  pa0ents  and  doctors  are  by  ‘needlessly  flawed  research’   in   his   book   ‘Bad   Pharma’.   He   prompted   parliament   to   finally   start   addressing   this   issue   of   unpublished   data.   In   essence,   if   some   data   is   leV   unpublished,  the  data  that  is  published  creates  a  distorted  image  of  a  drug,   leading  doctors  to  prescribe  drugs  on  incorrect  facts.     This   frankly   unethical   nature   of   the   pharmaceu0cal   industry   in   today’s   0me   is  harming  pa0ents  in  a  way  that  is  nothing  smaller  than  betrayal.  A  change   is  needed.      

Ibogaine natural remedy against treacherous pills
 BY GRZEGORZ WASILEWSKI
 Second Year Medical Biochemist !

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Why should   we   trust   pharmaceu0cal   companies   and   their   pills   when   dealing  with  alcoholism,  drug  addic0on  or  psychoanalysis?    

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The increased   use   of   legal   drugs   is   associated   with   more   deaths   per   year   in   comparison  to  the  use  of  illegal  drugs.  You  should  check  the  sta0s0cs  if  you   do  not  believe  me.  A  prime  example  is  the  introduc0on  of  the  prohibi0on   period   in   America   in   the   early   20th   century   which   brought   out   more   problems  with  alcoholism  than  ever  before.  


It has   been   a   century   since   we   know   of   Ibogaine,   a   psychoac0ve   alkaloid   occurring  in  an  African  tree.  Its  wide  range  of  uses  in  trea0ng  addic0on,  pain   and   psychotherapy   has   introduced   a   new   sense   of   therapy   for   those   individuals  who  seek  alterna0ve  treatment;  by-­‐passing  legalised  medica0on.    

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Ibogaine alleviates   physical   withdrawal   symptoms   of   opiate   detoxifica0on   by   reserng   and   refreshing   for   example   the   opiate   receptor   sites   without   giving   major   side   effects.   Treatment   takes   1-­‐2   days   aVer   consump0on   and   puts   the   pa0ent   into   a   visual   psychedelic   state,   re-­‐serng  your  brain  chemistry  back  to  normal.  

and the  algae  hasn’t  been  found  independently.  The  algae  can  be  found   in   the   egg   capsules   of   the   salamander   (thought   to   benefit   from   the   carbon   dioxide   it   produces)   and   as   the   embryo   matures,   it   enters   its   cells   and   stays   throughout   the   salamander’s   life.   It   is   not   yet   clear   exactly  what  benefit  the  alga  provides.  Allowing   the  salamanders  cells  to  use  its  photosynthe0c   products   seems   unlikely   as   the   salamander   “Think twice before you spends  most  its  0me  underground.  

swallow your pills…”

However Ibogaine  may  never  be  introduced  into   mainstream   medicine.   Many   are   unaware   of   Ibogaine’s   remedies   due   to   its   lack   of   popularity   due   to   its   low   cost   -­‐   oblivious  to  its  poten0al  of  effec0veness.    

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This ar0cle  is  wri]en  to  make  you  think  twice  before  you  swallow  your  pills.   To   play   with   the   idea,   that   there   are   many   natural   occurring   compounds   which  need  to  be  researched  and  dug  out  for  the  world  to  see.  

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Present Day Endosymbiosis 
 Associations Involving Animals  
 
 BY ELLIOTT LLOYD
 First Year Biologist


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 All animals,   as   well   as   all   other   eukaryotes,   are   a   result   of   an   endosymbio0c  event  around  two  billion  years  ago  between  an  ancestral   prokaryo0c   cell   and   a   proteobacterium   to   eventually   form   mitochondria.   Purng   it   simply,   we   are   complex,   evolved   colonies   of   prokaryotes.   Today,   endosymbio0c   events   are   common   involving   animals,  albeit  on  a  smaller  scale,  and  here  are  a  few  examples  which   will  hopefully  knock  you  off  your  chair.
 
 Corals   primarily   get   their   food   from   unicellular   eukaryotes   called   dinoflagellates   through   photosynthesis.   The   dinoflagellates   can   live   independently   and   when   they   are   found   in   an   endosymbio0c   rela0onship   inside   the   cells   of   corals,   they   are   referred   to   as   zooxanthellae.   Per   cubic   millimetre,   coral   0ssue   may   contain   up   to   thirty-­‐thousand  zooxanthellae.  Because  corals  rely  on  zooxanthellae  to   produce  their  food  (as  glycerol)  using  photosynthesis,  they  can  only  be   found  in  shallow  waters  with  enough  light  penetra0ng  through,  usually   less  than  60m  deep.  Coral  bleaching  occurs  when  the  zooxanthellae  die,   which   is   associated   with   environmental   stress   like   increased   temperature   and   acidity   (which   can   be   caused   by   increase   carbon   dioxide   concentra0on   in   the   water).   With   global   warming,   this   will   become  more  common.
 
 The   Eastern   Emerald   Elysia,   Elysia   chloro*ca,   is   a   species   of   sea   slug   that  ingests  the  cells  of  a  yellow-­‐green  alga  species,  Vaucheria  litorea,   and   instead   of   totally   diges0ng   them,   it   incorporates   its   chloroplasts   into   its   own   0ssues.   So,   as   well   as   feeding   by   inges0ng   food,   it   can   now   also   photosynthesise   (which   we   biologists   call   mixotrophy).   However,   this   is   only   made   possible   because   Elysia   chloro*cai   has   somehow   incorporated   algal   genes   for   proteins   vital   for   the   func0oning   of   the   chloroplasts  into  its  own  genome.
 
 The   Spo]ed   Salamander,   Ambystoma   maculatum,   has   an   endosymbio0c   rela0onship   with   a   species   of   green   algae,   Oophila   amblystoma*s.  This  salamander  is  the  only  known  vertebrate  to  do  this  

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The Scientist's Scribe  

Issue 1. March 2014