By Evangelia Rakou Stage 2 Biomedical Sciences Student
Who is Henrietta Lacks?
It might come as a surprise to you that one of the people who changed the course of medical research was not even a scientist herself. Henrietta Lacks was an African American woman and mother of five who died from cervical cancer in 1951.
After complaining of vaginal bleeding, she was diagnosed with the disease and sadly passed away several months after her diagnosis. However, her cells continue to impact the world and revolutionise modern medicine years after her death.
By Luisa Roa Gil 3rd year Physiological Sciences student
You might expect to instantly recognise the name of someone that contributed to the discovery of DNA structure, revealed the cause of high blood pressure, and became the first African-American woman to obtain a chemistry PhD, right?
However, you may be shocked by how many do not know the story of Dr Marie Maynard Daly – a woman who made multiple advances in science and opened doors for young scientists.
Picture this, it’s 6pm on a Thursday, you’re just back from a long day of lectures, you’re hangry as hell and those birds-eye potato waffles are calling your name…but trust me, there is a whole world of foods and flavours at your disposal if you just meal plan! As Iona Gannon, 2nd year nutrition student swears by, “an extra 30 minutes spent planning at the weekend will save you so much time and money, even just three speedy meals a week and you will thank yourself”. You never know, you might even be the next Gordan Ramsey, minus the raging temper hopefully!
For a little while now I’ve been looking for ways to help the LGBT+ and disabled communities but was never sure where to go or what I could do. I do still want to find other ways to help, but I found my starting point as an EDI (Equality, Disability, and Inclusivity) representative in the School of Biomedical, Nutritional and Sport Sciences.
How I got the role
I originally applied to be the LGBT+ rep, thinking “well I’m really queer so that’ll work,” but Dr Parry, head of the EDI committee at the time, thought I’d be better suited for the marginalised genders role, seeing as I’m very vocal about being trans. I didn’t have much of a choice when I was 19 going on 12 but I’m still open about it now, when I easily pass as a cis man (not looking quite 20 yet but getting there).
Working with poo turned out to be exactly the summer experience I wanted!
I worked at the national Cryptosporidium Reference Unit (CRU) at Public Health Wales in Swansea with Professor Rachel Chalmers and her team. I received a Scholarship from the Society for Applied Microbiology (SfAM) for this placement, writing the application together with Rachel.
Cryptosporidium is a parasite that causes diarrhoea, is found globally
and is typically passed from animals, other people, food and fresh water
sources. It is currently a human health issue due to the significant effect it
has in developing countries and the lack of specific treatments to fight the
parasite. Quite often how well you recover from the illness depends on how
healthy you were to begin with!
By Charlotte Ripley – Food and Human Nutrition Student
A trip to Italy?! Yes please!
In June, I attended a Food and Health Summer School in Italy, mixing with students from the University of Padova and the University of Sydney.
The focus was on the effects of different food components on overall health and well-being, with topics ranging from the effect of soil on the micronutrient content of foods to the worldwide issue of obesity – so the week was specifically aimed at those with a medical or food science background. Thankfully, everything was taught in English, as even Duolingo wouldn’t have prepared me for terms such as ‘squalene’, ‘fetotoxic’ or ‘teratogenicity’.
Though the week was primarily lecture based, we visited 2 different food producers (Grandi Molini Italiani – one of Europe’s largest flour mills – and Prosciuttificio Attilio Fontana Montagnana – a family-run prosciutto factory) and got to see some of Padova’s biggest attractions (Orto Botanica, Palazzo Bo and the Museum of History and Medicine). We even had our very own gala dinner to celebrate the end of the summer school – luckily, the lectures didn’t quite put me off the free wine on the tables.
Moving to uni can be lots of change for anybody. When you’re also living with a disability or a medical condition, getting through each day, let alone being able to study can be a challenge.
I’ve just finished my first year studying biochemistry and living and learning with physical disability has often been hard! I thought I’d share a few things that have helped, and so here are my practical top tips for starting university for those living with disability/long term medical condition.
Women make, and have made, vital contributions to science. This is a statement that should not need to be said, but too often women have not received the credit they deserve.
This year to highlight the achievements of Women in Science we ran a blog competition in the School of Biomedical Sciences. The challenge was to write a blog to highlight the contribution women have made to science.
The 2019 winner was Lilla Marshall (2nd year pharmacology), receiving £50. The close runner up was Caitlin Cosimini (Stage 3 Biomedical Sciences), congratulation to both, here is Lillia’s blog.
Three Interesting Tales of Women in Science
By Lilla Marshall
Historically, science has been dominated by men. Since the year 2000, only 12.7% of Nobel Prizes for Physiology and Medicine have been awarded to women.
I wasn’t the best in my stats module last semester, but even I can see the problem there. Even in popular culture, if you asked the general public to name as many female scientists as they could – the majority would say Marie Curie and “that lady who had her work on DNA stolen” (meaning Rosalind Franklin).