iansealy / Ian Sealy

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Huffduffed (292)

  1. The Life Scientific: Tim Spector and personalised diets for long term health

    Many of us take dietary rules for granted such as eating little and often, not skipping meals and keeping a check on our calorie intake. But genetic epidemiologist Professor Tim Spector argues we need to re-evaluate what we think we know about a good diet: diversity in both the types of food we eat and in the unique mix of microbes we nurture in our gut is the most important factor for health.

    In a multi disciplinary career following early training as a rheumatologist, Tim founded the UK Twins Registry at Kings College London to unravel the extent to which genes contribute to a vast range of human conditions and diseases. But the puzzling differences he observed in identical twins would fuel his current research on the gut microbiome and the discovery that each of us has a unique mix of gut bacteria – in effect a chemical factory that dictates our highly individual responses to different foods.

    Tim tells Jim Al-Khalili how his research has evolved to successfully develop a new scientific approach to personalised nutrition – through technology that during the pandemic has famously been pressed into service to track Covid symptoms across the UK, and that’s now revealing how a diverse diet has huge implications for Covid-19 outcomes.

    —Huffduffed by iansealy

  2. The Life Scientific: Sharon Peacock on hunting pandemic variants of concern

    Microbiologist Sharon Peacock has led one of the genuine science success stories of the pandemic. Professor Peacock is the founding director of COG-UK, the COVID-19 Genomics UK consortium. COG-UK is the network of 600 scientists and labs around the country which has acted as our surveillance system for the appearance and spread of new and dangerous variants of concern.

    Thanks to Professor Peacock and her colleagues, the UK was way ahead of other countries in establishing a national network of SARS-CoV-2 sequencing and genomic analysis although she was the target of criticism when COG-UK was being set up in the spring of 2020. However, as she tells Jim Al-Khalili, it paid off. For example, it was the sequencing of virus samples by the consortium that last December identified the fast-spreading Alpha or so-called Kent variant. This was the variant responsible for the terrible second wave of deaths and hospitalisations last winter. It was a combination of the overwhelmed hospitals, rocketing infection rates and the discovery of Alpha that persuaded the government to tighten the rules for that Christmas and institute the lockdown in January.

    Before the pandemic, Sharon Peacock was a pioneer and advocate for the application of pathogen genome sequencing in the National Health Service to tackle the growing menace of antibiotic resistance. She is a consultant in microbiology and Professor of Public Health and Microbiology at the University of Cambridge. This is not a list of titles and achievements which Sharon could have possibly imagined when she left school at 16, to work full time in her local corner shop.

    —Huffduffed by iansealy

  3. Reading the Landscape with Mary-Ann Ochota: Pegsdon Hills

    How many times have you been out for a walk and spotted intriguing shapes in the landscape? Your instinct tells you that these dips, hollows, lumps, bumps and oddly shaped stones aren’t natural features, but what on (and under) the earth are they? Mary-Ann Ochota is an anthropologist who writes about these curious archaeological forms and how to understand them. In her book, Hidden Histories, she shows how anyone can become a landscape detective, and start to read the history of the countryside from the clues around them. On today’s Ramblings she takes Clare Balding for a walk around the Pegsdon Hills on the Hertfordshire-Bedfordshire border, and through 6000 years of British history.

    —Huffduffed by iansealy

  4. Episode 3. Chasing digital footprints

    Early in the pandemic, Taiwan legally gathered location data from more than 600,000 of its citizens to stem the spread of coronavirus. South Korea, another east Asian democracy, has similar legal measures in place. How far are those of us who live in democratic societies willing to trust "big government" with our data? The FT’s Greater China correspondent Kathrin Hille speaks to Taiwan’s digital minister Audrey Tang and the country’s former deputy prime minister Chen Chi-mai about this data-driven approach to solving a public health emergency. Hosted by John Thornhill, innovation editor at the Financial Times.

    —Huffduffed by iansealy

  5. Covid-19: Six Months On

    It’s been six months since lockdown started, what have we learned since then about Covid-19? David Aaronovitch examines what we know about the science, symptoms and policies.

    —Huffduffed by iansealy

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