Archive by Author

A New Link Suggested Between Autism, Schizophrenia and Bipolar disorder

2 Mar

by Sarah Williams

For many years it has been known that certain psychiatric disorders and symptoms tend to occur more frequently in families than within the general population and the evidence that genetics has a part to play in this is unquestionable.

Genetic studies of autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder show that the risk of developing the disease is related to the amount of genetic information shared with an affected individual.  The likelihood of inheriting these disorders is at least 80%.  This value is equivalent to the value for Type I diabetes and greater than that for breast cancer and Parkinson’s disease.  However, it is important to realise these statistics only indicate the risk and that there are many genetic and environmental influences in these diseases.

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Could you withstand a nuclear fall out?

2 Mar

by Amberley Stephens

Humans couldn’t, a cockroach couldn’t, however Deinococcus radiodurans can.  It has been named one of the world’s toughest bacteria. Humans are killed by around 400-1000 rads of ionising radiation, a cockroach would be killed after 4000-10000 rads (radiation absorbed dose)  and would not survive nuclear fall out, contrary to popular belief. D.radiodurans can happily live and replicate through 1.5million rads of ionising radiation and survive up to 3million rads.

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Interview: Vincent O’Connor

2 Mar

interview: Amberley Stephens                              text: Alex Oldman

Vincent O'Connor: a self-portrait

Vincent O’Connor originally applied for medicine, and failed to get the grades…yes he is a failed medic! However his reason for choosing medicine was purely because it was a ‘good professional career’. Luckily for us he didn’t go down that path! He took time out to reapply and revaluate his future during which he travelled, skied and worked in the dole office.

Vincent got into Medicine after applying for a second time. However, the University of Reading looked far more appealing, offering a degree in Physiology and Biochemistry. His choice of course was inspired by a fundamental interest in science which had come from working in a lab as a technician at weekends and during the summer. Vincent took the place at Reading University and after a year out went on to do a PhD at UCL where his interest in neurochemistry and cellular receptors grew. He moved to Frankfurt with his wife and small child to work at the Max Plank Institute (MPI) for Brain Research. He was there for six years, and almost unbelievably Vincent didn’t learn any German, claiming that it was unnecessary to learn the language! He then progressed with his research and read into synaptic plasticity at the National Institute for medical research before coming to Southampton in 1999.

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