King's in the news - March 2018

King’s research makes headlines around the world. From HRH Prince Harry speaking at King’s about veterans’ mental health, to King's research into the effect of exercise on ageing, we’ve selected a few recent stories to share with you in case you missed them.

Prince Harry with Professor of Psychological Medicine, Sir Simon Charles Wessely (Picture: Dan Dyball and Dan Leightely )

Prince Harry speaks at the 2018 Veterans' Mental Health Conference

King’s was honoured this month to welcome Prince Harry to the Veterans’ Mental Health Conference. The Prince delivered a speech on mental resilience and rehabilitation in the military and challenging public misconceptions about mental health among veterans. He also called for continued collaboration to support veterans as they integrate into communities.

Commenting on some of the public misconceptions about mental health among military veterans, Prince Harry said:

‘Reports show the majority of the public still consider most veterans to be damaged by their service. In reality, just 2.4 per cent of those people leaving the forces in the last three years were medically discharged because of mental health, and just 0.9 per cent because of post-traumatic stress. As a recent King’s study shows us, the proportion of veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress is very similar to the general population. This misconception is having an incredibly negative impact on veterans as they transition, especially when looking for a new job and career.’

Read more and watch Harry’s speech


A lifetime of regular exercise slows down ageing

BBC News was amongst those reporting on a recent King’s College London and University of Birmingham study that found that staying active slows down the ageing process. Researchers compared a group of 125 amateur cyclists aged 55 to 79 to a comparable group of adults who did not take part in regular physical activity. The study showed that those who exercised regularly did not increase their body fat or cholesterol levels with age and did not suffer from a dramatic loss of muscle mass and strength. Professor Stephen Harridge, Director of the Centre for Human & Applied Physiological Sciences at King’s, said:

‘The findings emphasise the fact that the cyclists do not exercise because they are healthy, but that they are healthy because they have been exercising for such a large proportion of their lives.’

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Professor Anne Marie Rafferty CBE

Does the NHS need an independent health policy committee?

Professor Anne Marie Rafferty, Professor of Nursing Policy and Professor Jonathan Grant, Vice-President/Vice-Principal (Service), reported in The Guardian on the recommendation of a student-led health commission at King’s. The commission’s report proposes establishing an independent health policy committee modelled on the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee. Taking the politics out of NHS policy could help put an end to short-term planning and quick fixes. This would allow an additional focus on longer-term goals such as improving life-style choices that have the potential to make significant savings in the future.

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Stephen Hawking outside Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, in 2015 (Lwp Kommunikáció [CC / Flickr])

What can Stephen Hawking’s life teach us about motor neurone disease?

This March we sadly saw the loss Professor Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest scientific minds of our era. Professor Hawking was diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease in 1963 when he was a graduate student at Cambridge. He was given only two years’ to live, but the disease progressed much slower than doctors predicted. In a short video for The Financial Times, Professor Christopher Shaw, Professor of Neurology at King’s, outlines how analysis of Professor Hawking’s DNA could find genetic variants that lead to new therapies in the future.

Watch the video


Is Donald Trump pushing the ‘madman’ theory of diplomacy to the limit?

Professor John Bew, Professor in History and Foreign Policy, commented in the New Statesman on Trump’s offer to talk with Kim Jong-un. He points out that the ‘madman’ theory of diplomacy – where one’s position is strengthened by convincing the opponent that you are ‘crazy’ enough to do something dangerous – has a long tradition going back at least as far as that master political strategist of the Renaissance, Niccolò Machiavelli. Unfortunately, as Professor Bew points out, Trump’s ‘gamble on direct talks with Kim Jong-un is based on an exaggerated sense of his own genius for deal-making rather than a careful reading of history or a painstakingly constructed plan.’

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