King’s in the News - May 2018

King’s research makes headlines around the world. From the King’s professor defying ageing to the similarities between Trump’s presidency and Boris Yeltsin’s premiership, we’ve selected a few recent stories to share with you in case you missed them.

Hangry young man

Yes, hanger is a real emotion

King’s lecturer Sophie Medlin appeared on the BBC’s Woman’s Hour to discuss the science behind ‘hanger’, the anger or irritability people feel when hungry. As Sophie explained:

‘The chemicals in our brain that trigger hunger are the same ones that trigger for anger and rage and impulsive type behaviours, so that’s why you get that same response.’

Whilst articles about hanger might often be illustrated by a photograph of a stressed-out woman, Sophie pointed out that men may actually be more susceptible as they have more receptors for the chemicals responsible in the brain.

Read more on the BBC website.

Sajid JavidSajid Javid, image courtesy of Chatham House

It’s time to press reset on immigration policy

Professor of Economics and Public Policy Jonathan Portes offered some advice to the new Home Secretary Sajid Javid in The Independent. In the wake of the Windrush scandal, he calls for an end to quotas on skilled workers, for students to be taken out of targets and for a change in culture at the Home Office. He said:

‘Pressing the reset button on an immigration policy that has failed in every possible way – economically, poitically and morally – would not just be right thing to do, it would be a real boost for “Global Britain”, both at home and abroad.’

Read more in The Independent.

Bowl of peanuts

The new blood test for peanut allergies

Researchers at King’s have developed a new blood test that could make it much easier and cheaper to identify children with peanut allergies. Currently used methods include a skin-prick test which can result in over-diagnosis or a feeding test which can be time-consuming and sometimes lead to severe allergic reactions. The new proposed test, called the mast activation test (MAT), doesn’t run the risk of false-positives or causing anaphylactic shock.

The MAT is five times more cost-efficient compared to the feeding test and could be adapted to test other food allergies.

Read more

Donald TrumpDonald Trump, image courtesy of Gage Skidmore

The similarities between Trump's presidency and Boris Yeltsin's Russian premiership

Dr Ruth Deyermond, Lecturer in Post-Soviet Security, believes that there is a striking parallel between Trump’s presidency and the premiership of Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s first post-soviet president. She said:

‘Like Trump, Yeltsin was a deeply divisive figure, a political street fighter who survived by playing individuals and factions against each other and through complex transactional relationships with figures inside and outside government. Yeltsin was a charismatic and unconventional politician who appeared to relish political drama and theatrical public appearances.’

She also noted that the international arena is where the similarities are most dangerous. In both instances ‘questions of how far the individual is prepared to go to survive, how reliable they are as a partner, and so how far other states can support them, come into play and run the risk of damaging the country’s alliances.’ She warned that ‘Washington urgently needs to start a “de-Yeltsinisation” before further damage is done to the US’s international position. At the moment, however, the chances of that seem worryingly remote.’

Read more in The Independent.

Norman Lazarus

The King’s professor defying ageing

Each year, the Sunday Times publishes its list of the wealthiest individuals in the UK. But we all know that money isn’t the only measure of wealth worth counting. The Alternative Rich List seeks to celebrate other factors that lead to a rich life: finding inner contentment, striving to make the world a better place and understanding your own intrinsic value.

High on this year’s list was King’s Emeritus Professor of Physiology Norman Lazarus. Norman has been described as ‘the octogenarian professor who holds secret of eternal youth’. His research with his friend and colleague Professor Stephen Harridge at King's focuses on the benefits of exercise for healthy human ‘ageing’. He participated in a recent study that showed regular exercise could help the immune system defy the typical ageing process as well as protect against loss of muscle mass and strength.

Norman has this advice for people wanting to stay healthy into older age:

‘Find an exercise that you enjoy in whatever environment that suits you and make a habit of physical activity. You will reap the rewards in later life by enjoying an independent and productive old age.'