King’s in the news - round-up of February 2019

King’s and Guy’s, St Thomas’ and King’s College Hospital’s research makes headlines around the world. From the rationale behind kidnap negotiations to the health benefits of skipping breakfast, we’ve selected a few recent stories to share with you.


Will you have your DNA sequenced?

Robert Plomin, Professor of Behavioural Genetics at King’s, on the NHS providing paid for DNA sequencing.

Genomics England, a company owned by the Department of Health, has announced that it’s seeking people who are willing to pay to have their DNA sequenced. Professor Plomin welcomes the move. He believes that the benefits of whole genome sequencing (as opposed to the partial sequencing undertaken by many DNA testing services) both for research and for predicting possible health issues for individuals, mean that ultimately the NHS will move to a model where it is free at the point of delivery.

Speaking of DNA, we also found out this month that Rosalind Franklin, best known for the image of the structure of DNA she took whilst working at King’s, is to have a Mars rover named in her honour. The name was chosen following a public call for suggestions that drew nearly 36,000 responses from right across Europe.

Read more about the NHS plans to sequence DNA in The Spectator.
Read more the naming of the Mars rover on the BBC.



Why kidnapping rarely pays

Anja Shortland, Reader in Political Economy at King’s, on best practice in ransom negotiations.

The best response to a ransom demand is never to agree immediately to a kidnapper’s demands. If the kidnappers have time, they will keep doubling the price and judge the response to this accordingly. If the kidnappers agree to the first ransom offer they are given, they are probably negotiating from the back of a car and are desperate to return the hostage already.

Getting the right price requires haggling out a compromise that both satisfies the kidnappers and is affordable (and ethically acceptable) for the victims’ representatives. Economic reasoning tells us where this undignified bartering ends: kidnappers will release when the cost of holding onto the hostage exceeds what they expect to gain from the next ransom increment.

Read more in The Conversation


The Strand
Image courtesy of King's College London Archives

Promming along the Strand

The Strand has been open to traffic for over a thousand years, but ambitious new plans from the City of Westminster could see the area between Waterloo Bridge and St Clement Danes pedestrianised. The plans would create a brand new public space right on King’s Strand Campus doorstep and is also intended to help improve air quality and traffic congestion.

Read more about the proposals from City of Westminster


Skipping breakfast

Professor Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King's and Jeff Leach, Visiting Research Fellow at King's discuss new research into the effects of skipping breakfast.

Breakfast, we are told, is the most important meal of the day. [It] helps us reduce weight by speeding up our metabolism – this helps us avoid hunger pangs and overeating later in the day.

[But] the health benefit of breakfast has now been completely debunked by a new systematic review. Evidence is also accumulating that restricted eating times and increasing fasting intervals can help some people lose weight.

There is no one size fits all. Prescriptive diet guidelines filled with erroneous information look increasingly counterproductive and detract from important health messages.

Read more in The Conversation



One in 13 teenagers has experienced PTSD

One in 13 young people in England and Wales experiences post-traumatic stress disorder by the age of 18, the first research of its kind suggests.

A King’s study of more than 2,000 18-year-olds found nearly a third had experienced trauma in childhood. And a quarter of these then developed PTSD, which can cause insomnia, flashbacks and feelings of isolation.

Senior researcher Professor Andrea Danese, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, said: ‘Our findings should serve as a wake-up call. Childhood trauma is a public-health concern - yet trauma-related disorders often go unnoticed. Young people with PTSD are falling through the gaps in care and there is a pressing need for better access to mental health services.’

Read more in BBC News

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