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Welcome to University College London - PDF by gabyion


									        4 PN              UCL MEETING

                                                 Welcome to University College London
           Peter Mobbs                           The Department of Physiology at UCL                The changing face of the
                                                 is delighted to welcome members of                 university
                                                 the Physiological Society to the                   If you came to the meeting in 1999 and
                                                 Christmas meeting. The last meeting at             come to this Christmas meeting then
                                                 UCL, which took place in June 1999,                you will discover just how much the
                                                 had five symposia and nearly two                   Department and UCL have changed.
                                                 hundred presentations. It will be a hard           The rate of change is set to accelerate.
                                                 act to beat but I have no doubt that the           In 2000 we opened our new Medical
                                                 forthcoming meeting organised                      School and Life Sciences Teaching
                                                 through the hard work of David Jordan              Facility in the Cruciform Building (the
                                                 and others will be even busier and                 former University College London
                                                 more exciting than the last. There will            Hospital). These laboratories and
                                                 be symposia on the athlete’s heart, ion            lecture theatres are state-of-the-art and
                                                 channels, hearing, cell signalling and             have been an enormous success by
                                                 energy balance, and designated lectures            enabling us to organise our practical
                                                 by Erwin Neher, Ian McDonald, Robert               teaching more efficiently. Five labs, 4
                                                 Irvine, Gordon Reid, Ingolf Blasig,                with a capacity of more than 80, 2
                                                 Roger Adamson and Gordon Smith.                    specially designed for ‘wet’, 2 for ‘dry’
                                                 These events, and the 9 designated                 work and 1 for pharmacology practicals
                                                 sessions ranging from cardiovascular               are centrally timetabled and managed
                                                 physiology to cellular signalling,                 by a team of 12 technicians. This
                                                 promise an extraordinarily interesting             organisation means that the real-estate
                                                 meeting.                                           works hard and returns value on the
                                                    Since you can find out all you want             huge initial investment. The technical
                                                 about the Department’s staff and their             staff, who used to be employed within
                                                 research from our website                          the departments of the Life Sciences
                                                 (, in this article   Faculty, have an environment in which
                                                 I have decided not to review all of our            they can share their expertise with
The ‘Cruciform Building’ – home to the Wolfson   activity but rather to concentrate upon            others and broaden their skills. The
Institute for Biomedical Research and our new    what is new.                                       academic staff now have a single point
biomedical teaching laboratories
                                                                                                    of contact for matters to do with prac-
                                                                                                    tical classes and the students have a
                                                                                                    fantastic shiny new set of labs, lecture
                                                                                                    theatres and computer facilities.
                                                                                                    Change is never universally welcomed.
                                                                                                    However, even those who spent longer
                                                                                                    than most mourning the demise of the
                                                                                                    Physiology Department’s own practical
                                                                                                    labs have been won over.
                                                                                                       Those who have recently spent any
                                                                                                    time at UCL will know that not all of
                                                                                                    the buildings are in a wonderful state
                                                                                                    of repair. Years of under-funding of the
                                                                                                    UK’s universities by government have
                                                                                                    led to problems with which everyone
                                                                                                    will be familiar – peeling paint, leaking
                                                                                                    roofs, rooms that are unbearably hot in
                                                                                                    summer and equally unbearably cold in
                                                                                                    winter. I have taken two film crews
                                                                                                     FEATURES                PN 5

around the Department in the recent          entrance to the
past and pointed to loose plaster and        central campus.
the hole in the wall in a lab where ‘the     A key element of
snow blows in during the winter’.            the science envis-
Fortunately, it hasn’t snowed in             aged in the Centre
London in the last few years! However,       is its connection
there is now light at the end of the         to the life sciences,
tunnel and not just that shining in          especially in the
through the chinks in the brickwork,         fields of nanode-
UCL won more than a hundred million          vices for biomed-
pounds in the last JIF round. This           ical applications
money will be of particular benefit to       and nanoscale
the life sciences; some members of the       imaging of biolog-
Physiology and Pharmacology Depart-          ical processes.
ments will have new laboratories in a           Earlier this year the Department said
Molecular Neuroscience building              a fond farewell to the Physiology
currently being erected at the foot of       Lecture Theatre. The theatre had been
the steps to the ‘Institute of Physiology’   in service for most of the period since
which was built a hundred years earlier.     the Department moved from the
Physiology’s auditory neuroscience           building that now houses the Slade
group will enjoy new laboratories and        School of Art in 1909. Generations of
increased opportunities for collabora-       physiology and medical students have
tion with colleagues at the Institute of     listened attentively, and only occasion-
                                                                                         Top The familiar and tranquil face of UCL
Laryngology and Otology in the new           ally slept, thanks perhaps in part to the
                                                                                         Above Behind the scenes the campus is being turned
Centre for Auditory Research being           hard wooden benching, through their         into a building site. Temporary buildings erected
built in the Grays Inn Road. Much of         lectures in this theatre. Starling, Hill    before the last war are demolished to make way for
the Physiology Department is currently       and Huxley all trod its boards. The         the Centre for Molecular Neuroscience

housed in the Medical Sciences               benches, rickety motorised blinds and
Building, the elegant stone edifice that     squeaky blackboard have now disap-
stretches much of the way down Gower         peared and been replaced by comfort-
Street. The third floor of this will, as     able seating, computer projection facili-
part of the Molecular Neurosciences JIF,     ties, and improved lighting. Air condi-
be remodeled to provide purpose built        tioning, better acoustics and a decent
electrophysiology laboratories.              PA system render the need for hard
                                                                                         A computer generated aerial view of the new Centre
   UCL Physiology has long been at the       benching as an aid to attention redun-      for Molecular Neuroscience
forefront of developments in cellular
imaging. The Physiology Department
currently has several confocals and
baby confocals, a multi photon
machine, and is in the process of
purchasing further machines for the JIF
developments described above. New JIF
funded facilities available in our sister
and neighbouring Department of
Anatomy and Developmental Biology
in the Rockefeller Building include 3
conventional and 2 multi-photon
confocal microscopes. Clearly, UCL Life
Sciences is set to remain at the fore-
front in the imaging field. Another JIF
development, the Centre for Nanotech-
nology, will be built near the Blooms-
bury Theatre and the Gordon Street
        6 PN                 UCL MEETING

           David Attwell –                 dant. In line with UCL’s policy of          binaural processing of sound in the
         recently made a
                                           naming rooms and buildings after            central auditory system and adds
      fellow of the Royal
                  Society                  famous academics the new lecture            significantly to our already consider-
                                           theatre has been christened the A V         able strengths in auditory physiology.
                                           Hill Lecture Theatre. Starling will main-   His presence, the new JIF funded
                                           tain his presence within it through the     Centre for Auditory Research combined
                                           recently restored oil painting of him at    with the already significant strengths
                                           his bench in the Department in 1927         of the Institute of Laryngology and
      Michael Hausser –
                                           that will soon hang in the same posi-       Otology, together establish UCL as an
   recently promoted to                    tion it occupied in the old theatre. His    international player in all aspects of
 Professor and awarded                     former place in the Department, and         hearing research. Paola Pedarzani has
     a Wellcome Senior
                                           the continuing presence of Sir Bernard      an outstanding record of contribution
Research Fellowship has
          moved to new                     Katz are honoured through the naming        to our understanding of the ways in
      laboratories in the                  of buildings and rooms in the Depart-       which calcium-activated and other
    Wolfson Institute for                  ment and around the campus.                 potassium channels contribute to the
   Biomedical Research
                                                                                       shaping of action potentials, spike
                                           News of new faces and old                   trains and signal processing in the CNS.
          Angus Silver –
                                           The real-estate is not the only feature     UCL’s traditional strengths in ion
   recently appointed to
     a Wellcome Senior
                                           to have undergone significant change        channel physiology have also been
    Research Fellowship                    since the last meeting of the Physiolog-    strengthened by the Pharmacology
                                           ical Society at UCL. There have also        Department’s acquisition of Martin
                                           been major changes in the staff. Mike       Stocker from Göttingen as a Wellcome
                                           Spyer, the then Head of Department,         Senior Research Fellow – he too is one
                                           has taken over as Dean of the Medical       of the key players in calcium-activated
                                           School. Mike, as energetic as ever,         potassium channel physiology. Sandip
         Sandip Patel –                    continues his work on the autonomic         Patel has a proleptic lectureship in
  a Wellcome Research                      nervous system within his laboratory        Physiology and currently holds a Well-
   Career Development
                                           in the Department on the Royal Free         come Research Career Development
         Fellow recently
 appointed as a lecturer                   campus. Alex Thompson leaves us at          Fellowship. Sandip’s research focuses
     in the Department                     the end of the year to join the School      upon signaling by NAADP and adds to
                                           of Pharmacy and replace Trevor Smart        an already powerful group of staff
                                           as Head of Pharmacology there. Trevor       interested in the coordination of
                                           has moved in the opposite direction         cellular events by calcium signaling.
                                           and is now Head of the Pharmacology         Steve Harridge, currently a Wellcome
      David McAlpine –
       a member of the
                                           Department at UCL. We wish Alex             Research Career Development Fellow in
     Centre for Auditory                   every success in her new job. Sally         the Department, has been appointed to
          Research was                     Page, Barbara Banks, Lynn Bindman,          a proleptic lectureship. His research on
     recently promoted
                                           David Allan and Bastien Gomperts            human skeletal muscle function is an
        to a Readership
                                           have all retired. However, Barbara, Sally   important component of the research
                                           and Lynn continue to make significant       within our MSc School of Health and
                                           contributions to teaching in the            Performance.
                                           Department. Though retired, Bastien,           Other welcome events in the last
      Paola Pedarzani –                    together with Peter Tatham, another of      year included the election of David
     recently appointed
                                           the Department’s cell physiologists,        Attwell to the Fellowship of the Royal
     as a lecturer in the
            Department                     have written a major new textbook           Society. David has worked both on the
                                           “Signal Transduction”.                      retina and the importance of amino
                                             The Department is delighted to have       acid transport for the physiology and
                                           recently captured David McAlpine from       pathophysiology of the brain. He was
                                           Sheffield, Paola Pedarzani from             pivotal in the generation of the appli-
                                           Göttingen and Sandip Patel from             cation for the JIF award to fund the
                                           Oxford. All were appointed as lecturers     Centre for Molecular Neuroscience.
                                           since the last meeting. David               Michael Hausser, who holds a proleptic
                                           McAlpine’s research centres on the          lectureship in the Department, won a
                                                                                                   FEATURES                PN 7

Wellcome Senior Research Fellowship         variety of
and has recently been made a professor.     biomedical disci-
Angus Silver, another proleptic lecturer,   plines and allows
also won a Wellcome Senior Fellowship.      students to decide
                                            which to
New enterprises in teaching                 specialize in at
The teaching front has seen many            the end of the
changes in the past three years. The        first year. The
Medical School launched upon its new        need for such a
6-year curriculum in September 2000.        programme has
Students now spend 5 years studying         been highlighted
medicine and an additional year             by its success in
pursuing an intercalated BSc. The new       attracting appli-
medical degree programme is systems-        cants, in the current year there were 10
based and integrates basic medical and      applications for every place on offer.
clinical science with professional skills   Despite increasing student numbers on
and competencies throughout the             this new course, the BSc Physiology
programme. It incorporates all the          continues to flourish and it remains a
recommendations of the General              particularly popular choice as an inter-
Medical Council’s report “Tomorrow’s        calated degree topic.
Doctors”, while conserving the                 A further development in teaching
strengths of the pre-existing curricula,    has been the establishment of an MSc
many of which were established by           School of Health and Performance on        Top Students at work in the new laboratories

members of the Physiology Depart-           UCL’s Archway Campus. This school,         Above A first glimpse of the Centre for Auditory
ment including Michael Duchen and           directed by Bruce Lynn, provides           Research

Barbara Banks (now retired). Right from     advanced teaching in subjects
the onset, students have clinical           concerned with human health, sport
contact, with patients, doctors and         and performance and includes MScs in
other health professionals on the three     Physiotherapy, Sports and Exercise
main clinical sites and in community        Medicine and Sport, Health and Society.
placements. Much of the first 2 years
continues to be taught by members of        I have used the space available to me
the departments of the Faculty of Life      here to highlight the many changes the
Sciences. For a major new educational       Department has seen over the past
initiative the new medical curriculum       three years. However, UCL Physiology
suffered remarkably few teething trou-      remains a hive of research activity and
bles and each of the first 2 cohorts of     as welcoming and friendly as in the
students have commented favourably          past. I very much look forward to
upon the course.                            seeing you at the UCL meeting. You
   Last year the Department began a         will be able to catch up with new
new BSc Programme – Biomedical              research by the old hands as well as
Sciences. Linda Harrison as Programme       that by those new to the crew. We all
Tutor has done an outstanding job in        hope you will enjoy your visit.
piloting this new degree through its
first year. The programme has 50 places     Peter Mobbs
and was born out of the recognition         Department of Physiology
that school leavers have increasingly
little familiarity with subjects such as
Physiology, Pharmacology and Cell
Biology. For students unsure of which
field they wish to study, the Biomedical
Sciences degree programme at UCL
provides a solid introduction to a wide

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