Breakthroughs

From Chaucer to climate change, discover the latest research and innovation from UCL’s community of experts

A selection of pictures - Geoffrey Chaucer, an iceberg, a close of of an eye and the inside of the British Museum

This article first appeared in issue 7 of Portico magazine, published October 2020.

Across UCL’s eleven faculties, our community of experts are constantly innovating, making significant discoveries and conducting vital new research. Catch up with the breadth of their breakthroughs in our showcase of recent achievements:

Sun seeker

A joint venture between the European Space Agency and NASA, launched in February 2020, Solar Orbiter is on a mission to take the most detailed images ever of the sun, allowing scientists to study it in much more detail than previously possible. It will also provide crucial information about how the star’s volatile activity affects its atmosphere.

On board are instruments proposed, designed and built at UCL that will help improve predictions of space weather events, which can disrupt and damage satellites.

UCL scientists and engineers are leading an international team on the Solar Wind Analyser, which measures the different elements of the solar wind and characterises their behaviour under different solar conditions. UCL is also a Co-Principal Investigator for the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager – a suite of telescopes that will provide finely detailed images of the hot and cold layers of the sun’s atmosphere and corona.
Learn more about the research

Delayed reaction

Women who engage in sexual activity weekly or monthly have a lower risk of entering menopause early, according to UCL research.

The findings were based on data from the US’s Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), the largest, most diverse and most representative longitudinal cohort study available to research aspects of the menopause transition.

First author on the research, PhD candidate Megan Arnot (UCL Anthropology), says, “The findings suggest that if a woman is not having sex, and there is no chance of pregnancy, then the body ‘chooses’ not to invest in ovulation. There may be a biological energetic trade-off between investing energy into ovulation and investing elsewhere, such as keeping active by looking after grandchildren.”
Learn more about UCL Anthropology

This article first appeared in issue 7 of Portico magazine, published October 2020.

Across UCL’s eleven faculties, our community of experts are constantly innovating, making significant discoveries and conducting vital new research. Catch up with the breadth of their breakthroughs in our showcase of recent achievements:

Sun seeker

A joint venture between the European Space Agency and NASA, launched in February 2020, Solar Orbiter is on a mission to take the most detailed images ever of the sun, allowing scientists to study it in much more detail than previously possible. It will also provide crucial information about how the star’s volatile activity affects its atmosphere.

On board are instruments proposed, designed and built at UCL that will help improve predictions of space weather events, which can disrupt and damage satellites.

UCL scientists and engineers are leading an international team on the Solar Wind Analyser, which measures the different elements of the solar wind and characterises their behaviour under different solar conditions. UCL is also a Co-Principal Investigator for the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager – a suite of telescopes that will provide finely detailed images of the hot and cold layers of the sun’s atmosphere and corona.
Learn more about the research

Delayed reaction

Women who engage in sexual activity weekly or monthly have a lower risk of entering menopause early, according to UCL research.

The findings were based on data from the US’s Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), the largest, most diverse and most representative longitudinal cohort study available to research aspects of the menopause transition.

First author on the research, PhD candidate Megan Arnot (UCL Anthropology), says, “The findings suggest that if a woman is not having sex, and there is no chance of pregnancy, then the body ‘chooses’ not to invest in ovulation. There may be a biological energetic trade-off between investing energy into ovulation and investing elsewhere, such as keeping active by looking after grandchildren.”
Learn more about UCL Anthropology

This article first appeared in issue 7 of Portico magazine, published October 2020.

Across UCL’s eleven faculties, our community of experts are constantly innovating, making significant discoveries and conducting vital new research. Catch up with the breadth of their breakthroughs in our showcase of recent achievements:

Sun seeker

A joint venture between the European Space Agency and NASA, launched in February 2020, Solar Orbiter is on a mission to take the most detailed images ever of the sun, allowing scientists to study it in much more detail than previously possible. It will also provide crucial information about how the star’s volatile activity affects its atmosphere.

On board are instruments proposed, designed and built at UCL that will help improve predictions of space weather events, which can disrupt and damage satellites.

UCL scientists and engineers are leading an international team on the Solar Wind Analyser, which measures the different elements of the solar wind and characterises their behaviour under different solar conditions. UCL is also a Co-Principal Investigator for the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager – a suite of telescopes that will provide finely detailed images of the hot and cold layers of the sun’s atmosphere and corona.
Learn more about the research

Delayed reaction

Women who engage in sexual activity weekly or monthly have a lower risk of entering menopause early, according to UCL research.

The findings were based on data from the US’s Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), the largest, most diverse and most representative longitudinal cohort study available to research aspects of the menopause transition.

First author on the research, PhD candidate Megan Arnot (UCL Anthropology), says, “The findings suggest that if a woman is not having sex, and there is no chance of pregnancy, then the body ‘chooses’ not to invest in ovulation. There may be a biological energetic trade-off between investing energy into ovulation and investing elsewhere, such as keeping active by looking after grandchildren.”
Learn more about UCL Anthropology

Mobile health

A smartphone app that allows users to check for jaundice in newborn babies simply by taking a picture of the eye may be an effective, low-cost way to screen for the condition.

Jaundice, where the skin and whites of the eyes turn yellow, causes 114,000 newborn deaths and 178,000 cases of disability a year worldwide, despite being a treatable condition. Three-quarters of deaths are in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

The new screening method, part of a pilot study led by UCL and UCLH, quantifies the yellowness of the eye via images captured on a smartphone camera. 

Mobile health

A smartphone app that allows users to check for jaundice in newborn babies simply by taking a picture of the eye may be an effective, low-cost way to screen for the condition.

Jaundice, where the skin and whites of the eyes turn yellow, causes 114,000 newborn deaths and 178,000 cases of disability a year worldwide, despite being a treatable condition. Three-quarters of deaths are in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

The new screening method, part of a pilot study led by UCL and UCLH, quantifies the yellowness of the eye via images captured on a smartphone camera. 

Mobile health

A smartphone app that allows users to check for jaundice in newborn babies simply by taking a picture of the eye may be an effective, low-cost way to screen for the condition.

Jaundice, where the skin and whites of the eyes turn yellow, causes 114,000 newborn deaths and 178,000 cases of disability a year worldwide, despite being a treatable condition. Three-quarters of deaths are in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

The new screening method, part of a pilot study led by UCL and UCLH, quantifies the yellowness of the eye via images captured on a smartphone camera. 

A newborn child lays in his mothers arms whilst someone places a smartphone to their face, with an app open which allows users to check for jaundice in newborn babies

Senior author Dr Terence Leung (UCL Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering) says, “In many parts of the world, midwives and nurses rely on sight alone to assess jaundice. However, this is unreliable, especially for newborns with darker skin.” First author Felix Outlaw (UCL Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering), says, “Given that smartphones are common even in poor and remote parts of the world, being able to use them to screen for jaundice would have a significant impact.”

A larger trial of the screening method involving more than 500 babies is now underway in Ghana.
Learn more about UCL Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering

Cancer discovery

Scientists at UCL have invented a new test to identify the earliest genetic changes of prostate cancer in blood.

The UCL Cancer Institute used Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) to establish if they could identify prostate cancer DNA in blood plasma. Previous studies have focused on tissue samples; however, this requires an invasive biopsy.

 Researchers say their successful discovery in blood represents a prostate tissue ‘fingerprint’ or early circulating biomarker, and when detected, identifies that cancer is active and spreading. As this can be discovered in a simple blood test, commonly known as a liquid biopsy, physicians could monitor cancer response to treatment regularly and in real-time. 

Moving forward, researchers will see if this test could complement or replace the traditional prostate-specific antigen test, which is used for prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment monitoring.
Learn more about UCL cancer research

Make a stand

A UCL-led study published in The Lancet Psychiatry reports that adolescents who spend too much time sitting still face a greater risk of depression by the age of 18.

The research team used data from 4,257 adolescents, who have been participating in longitudinal research from birth as part of the University of Bristol’s Children of the 90s cohort study. The children wore accelerometers to track their movement for at least 10 hours over at least three days, at ages 12, 14 and 16.

“We found that it’s not just more intense forms of activity that are good for our mental health, but any degree of physical activity that can reduce the time we spend sitting down is likely to be beneficial,” says the study’s lead author, PhD student Aaron Kandola (UCL Psychiatry).

Just 60 minutes of light activity (such as walking, doing chores or standing for classroom lessons) daily at age 12 was associated with a 10% reduction in depressive symptoms at age 18.
Learn more about UCL Psychiatry

Senior author Dr Terence Leung (UCL Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering) says, “In many parts of the world, midwives and nurses rely on sight alone to assess jaundice. However, this is unreliable, especially for newborns with darker skin.” First author Felix Outlaw (UCL Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering), says, “Given that smartphones are common even in poor and remote parts of the world, being able to use them to screen for jaundice would have a significant impact.”

A larger trial of the screening method involving more than 500 babies is now underway in Ghana.
Learn more about UCL Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering

Cancer discovery

Scientists at UCL have invented a new test to identify the earliest genetic changes of prostate cancer in blood.

The UCL Cancer Institute used Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) to establish if they could identify prostate cancer DNA in blood plasma. Previous studies have focused on tissue samples; however, this requires an invasive biopsy.

 Researchers say their successful discovery in blood represents a prostate tissue ‘fingerprint’ or early circulating biomarker, and when detected, identifies that cancer is active and spreading. As this can be discovered in a simple blood test, commonly known as a liquid biopsy, physicians could monitor cancer response to treatment regularly and in real-time. 

Moving forward, researchers will see if this test could complement or replace the traditional prostate-specific antigen test, which is used for prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment monitoring.
Learn more about UCL cancer research

Make a stand

A UCL-led study published in The Lancet Psychiatry reports that adolescents who spend too much time sitting still face a greater risk of depression by the age of 18.

The research team used data from 4,257 adolescents, who have been participating in longitudinal research from birth as part of the University of Bristol’s Children of the 90s cohort study. The children wore accelerometers to track their movement for at least 10 hours over at least three days, at ages 12, 14 and 16.

“We found that it’s not just more intense forms of activity that are good for our mental health, but any degree of physical activity that can reduce the time we spend sitting down is likely to be beneficial,” says the study’s lead author, PhD student Aaron Kandola (UCL Psychiatry).

Just 60 minutes of light activity (such as walking, doing chores or standing for classroom lessons) daily at age 12 was associated with a 10% reduction in depressive symptoms at age 18.
Learn more about UCL Psychiatry

Senior author Dr Terence Leung (UCL Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering) says, “In many parts of the world, midwives and nurses rely on sight alone to assess jaundice. However, this is unreliable, especially for newborns with darker skin.” First author Felix Outlaw (UCL Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering), says, “Given that smartphones are common even in poor and remote parts of the world, being able to use them to screen for jaundice would have a significant impact.”

A larger trial of the screening method involving more than 500 babies is now underway in Ghana.
Learn more about UCL Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering

Cancer discovery

Scientists at UCL have invented a new test to identify the earliest genetic changes of prostate cancer in blood.

The UCL Cancer Institute used Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) to establish if they could identify prostate cancer DNA in blood plasma. Previous studies have focused on tissue samples; however, this requires an invasive biopsy.

 Researchers say their successful discovery in blood represents a prostate tissue ‘fingerprint’ or early circulating biomarker, and when detected, identifies that cancer is active and spreading. As this can be discovered in a simple blood test, commonly known as a liquid biopsy, physicians could monitor cancer response to treatment regularly and in real-time. 

Moving forward, researchers will see if this test could complement or replace the traditional prostate-specific antigen test, which is used for prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment monitoring.
Learn more about UCL cancer research

Make a stand

A UCL-led study published in The Lancet Psychiatry reports that adolescents who spend too much time sitting still face a greater risk of depression by the age of 18.

The research team used data from 4,257 adolescents, who have been participating in longitudinal research from birth as part of the University of Bristol’s Children of the 90s cohort study. The children wore accelerometers to track their movement for at least 10 hours over at least three days, at ages 12, 14 and 16.

“We found that it’s not just more intense forms of activity that are good for our mental health, but any degree of physical activity that can reduce the time we spend sitting down is likely to be beneficial,” says the study’s lead author, PhD student Aaron Kandola (UCL Psychiatry).

Just 60 minutes of light activity (such as walking, doing chores or standing for classroom lessons) daily at age 12 was associated with a 10% reduction in depressive symptoms at age 18.
Learn more about UCL Psychiatry

The remains of the Red Lion in Whitechapel

Dramatic dig

Archaeology South-East, part of UCL’s Institute of Archaeology, has discovered the remains of the Red Lion, thought to be the earliest Elizabethan playhouse, in Whitechapel.

The playhouse, believed to have been built around 1567, was set up by John Brayne, who later went on to construct The Theatre, Shoreditch, in 1576 with James Burbage, his brother-in-law and member of acting company The Lord Chamberlain’s Men.

The Theatre was the first permanent home for acting troupes, and a venue that staged a young Shakespeare’s plays in the 1590s.
Learn more about Archaeology South-East

Dramatic dig

Archaeology South-East, part of UCL’s Institute of Archaeology, has discovered the remains of the Red Lion, thought to be the earliest Elizabethan playhouse, in Whitechapel.

The playhouse, believed to have been built around 1567, was set up by John Brayne, who later went on to construct The Theatre, Shoreditch, in 1576 with James Burbage, his brother-in-law and member of acting company The Lord Chamberlain’s Men.

The Theatre was the first permanent home for acting troupes, and a venue that staged a young Shakespeare’s plays in the 1590s.
Learn more about Archaeology South-East

Dramatic dig

Archaeology South-East, part of UCL’s Institute of Archaeology, has discovered the remains of the Red Lion, thought to be the earliest Elizabethan playhouse, in Whitechapel.

The playhouse, believed to have been built around 1567, was set up by John Brayne, who later went on to construct The Theatre, Shoreditch, in 1576 with James Burbage, his brother-in-law and member of acting company The Lord Chamberlain’s Men.

The Theatre was the first permanent home for acting troupes, and a venue that staged a young Shakespeare’s plays in the 1590s.
Learn more about Archaeology South-East

Bland designs

The design of new housing developments in England is overwhelmingly ‘mediocre’ or ‘poor’, with less-affluent communities the worst affected, according to a national audit conducted by UCL for CPRE, the countryside charity, and Place Alliance.

The report, an audit of more than 140 housing developments built across England since 2007, stated that 75% of them should not have gone ahead. One in five should have been refused planning permission outright, as their poor design was contrary to advice given in the National Planning Policy Framework, while a further 54% should not have been granted permission without significant improvements having been made to their design first.

The audit proposed a range of recommendations for the government, house builders and local councils, which included designing at higher densities than is the norm; research found this had strong benefits, as compact developments tend to be designed more sensitively.
Learn more about The Bartlett School of Planning

Bland designs

The design of new housing developments in England is overwhelmingly ‘mediocre’ or ‘poor’, with less-affluent communities the worst affected, according to a national audit conducted by UCL for CPRE, the countryside charity, and Place Alliance.

The report, an audit of more than 140 housing developments built across England since 2007, stated that 75% of them should not have gone ahead. One in five should have been refused planning permission outright, as their poor design was contrary to advice given in the National Planning Policy Framework, while a further 54% should not have been granted permission without significant improvements having been made to their design first.

The audit proposed a range of recommendations for the government, house builders and local councils, which included designing at higher densities than is the norm; research found this had strong benefits, as compact developments tend to be designed more sensitively.
Learn more about The Bartlett School of Planning

Bland designs

The design of new housing developments in England is overwhelmingly ‘mediocre’ or ‘poor’, with less-affluent communities the worst affected, according to a national audit conducted by UCL for CPRE, the countryside charity, and Place Alliance.

The report, an audit of more than 140 housing developments built across England since 2007, stated that 75% of them should not have gone ahead. One in five should have been refused planning permission outright, as their poor design was contrary to advice given in the National Planning Policy Framework, while a further 54% should not have been granted permission without significant improvements having been made to their design first.

The audit proposed a range of recommendations for the government, house builders and local councils, which included designing at higher densities than is the norm; research found this had strong benefits, as compact developments tend to be designed more sensitively.
Learn more about The Bartlett School of Planning

Iceberg

Overheating

A warming global climate could cause sudden and potentially catastrophic losses of biodiversity in regions across the globe throughout the 21st century.

The findings in a UCL-led study predict when and where there could be severe ecological disruption in the coming decades and suggest that the first waves could already be happening.

Lead author Dr Alex Pigot (UCL Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research) and colleagues from the US and South Africa used climate-model data from 1850 to 2005, and cross-referenced it with the geographic ranges of 30,652 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and other animals and plants. The data was available for areas across the globe, divided up into 100 by 100km square grid cells.

Using climate-model projections for each year up to 2100, they predicted when species in each grid cell will begin experiencing temperatures that are consistently higher than the organism has previously experienced across its geographic range, for a period of at least five years. The researchers found that in most ecological communities across the globe, a large proportion of the organisms will find themselves outside of their niche (comfort zone) within the same decade. And on average, 73% of all the species facing unprecedented temperatures before 2100 will cross that threshold simultaneously.
Learn more about UCL Biosciences

Overheating

A warming global climate could cause sudden and potentially catastrophic losses of biodiversity in regions across the globe throughout the 21st century.

The findings in a UCL-led study predict when and where there could be severe ecological disruption in the coming decades and suggest that the first waves could already be happening.

Lead author Dr Alex Pigot (UCL Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research) and colleagues from the US and South Africa used climate-model data from 1850 to 2005, and cross-referenced it with the geographic ranges of 30,652 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and other animals and plants. The data was available for areas across the globe, divided up into 100 by 100km square grid cells.

Using climate-model projections for each year up to 2100, they predicted when species in each grid cell will begin experiencing temperatures that are consistently higher than the organism has previously experienced across its geographic range, for a period of at least five years. The researchers found that in most ecological communities across the globe, a large proportion of the organisms will find themselves outside of their niche (comfort zone) within the same decade. And on average, 73% of all the species facing unprecedented temperatures before 2100 will cross that threshold simultaneously.
Learn more about UCL Biosciences

Overheating

A warming global climate could cause sudden and potentially catastrophic losses of biodiversity in regions across the globe throughout the 21st century.

The findings in a UCL-led study predict when and where there could be severe ecological disruption in the coming decades and suggest that the first waves could already be happening.

Lead author Dr Alex Pigot (UCL Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research) and colleagues from the US and South Africa used climate-model data from 1850 to 2005, and cross-referenced it with the geographic ranges of 30,652 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and other animals and plants. The data was available for areas across the globe, divided up into 100 by 100km square grid cells.

Using climate-model projections for each year up to 2100, they predicted when species in each grid cell will begin experiencing temperatures that are consistently higher than the organism has previously experienced across its geographic range, for a period of at least five years. The researchers found that in most ecological communities across the globe, a large proportion of the organisms will find themselves outside of their niche (comfort zone) within the same decade. And on average, 73% of all the species facing unprecedented temperatures before 2100 will cross that threshold simultaneously.
Learn more about UCL Biosciences

Digital poetry

Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is the first major literary work, in any language, to be developed into a web and mobile-phone app with original scholarship, due to a new project by academics at UCL, the University of Saskatchewan (USask) and The National Library of Wales.

The free app features a 45-minute audio performance of the General Prologue of the Tales, along with the digitised original manuscript.

While listening to the reading, users have access to supporting content such as a translation in modern English, commentary, notes and vocabulary explaining Middle English words used by Chaucer.

Digital poetry

Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is the first major literary work, in any language, to be developed into a web and mobile-phone app with original scholarship, due to a new project by academics at UCL, the University of Saskatchewan (USask) and The National Library of Wales.

The free app features a 45-minute audio performance of the General Prologue of the Tales, along with the digitised original manuscript.

While listening to the reading, users have access to supporting content such as a translation in modern English, commentary, notes and vocabulary explaining Middle English words used by Chaucer.

Digital poetry

Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is the first major literary work, in any language, to be developed into a web and mobile-phone app with original scholarship, due to a new project by academics at UCL, the University of Saskatchewan (USask) and The National Library of Wales.

The free app features a 45-minute audio performance of the General Prologue of the Tales, along with the digitised original manuscript.

While listening to the reading, users have access to supporting content such as a translation in modern English, commentary, notes and vocabulary explaining Middle English words used by Chaucer.

Geoffrey Chaucer

The app also contains key new findings about the Tales by UCL medievalist Professor Richard North. Search for ‘General Prologue’ in Play Store or the App Store.
Access the app online

Class action

An Institute of Education study has found that one in 20 teachers in England are reporting a long-lasting mental-health problem and their wellbeing has not improved over the past three decades.

The working paper, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, is the first piece of research to examine the mental health and wellbeing of teachers in England over time. Researchers analysed data from more than 20,000 teachers and education professionals collected at different waves between 1992 and 2018 from three large population-based surveys.

Lead author Professor John Jerrim says, “The teaching profession in England is in the midst of a crisis and one potential reason why it’s struggling to recruit and retain enough teachers is due to the pressures of the job.”
Learn more about the Institute of Education

Arts therapy

Good news for the over 50s: engaging with the arts will help you to live longer. A new UCL study measured engagement in the ‘receptive arts’, such as going to museums, galleries and concerts, and linked this to mortality. 

The team analysed data from 6,710 adults aged 50 and over from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and followed up with the group after 14 years. The findings showed that adults who engaged in the arts on a frequent basis had a 31% lower risk of dying (2.4 deaths per 1,000 person years) at any point during the follow-up period compared with those who had not.

Lead author Dr Daisy Fancourt (UCL Epidemiology & Health Care) says, “Our study has significance given the current focus on schemes such as ‘social prescribing’ and ‘community service referrals’ that are being used to refer people to community arts activities in a number of countries. In addition to other literature exploring the benefits of such engagement for specific mental and physical health conditions, our results suggest there might also be broader benefits, including helping to promote longer lives.”
Learn more about the Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care

The app also contains key new findings about the Tales by UCL medievalist Professor Richard North. Search for ‘General Prologue’ in Play Store or the App Store.
Access the app online

Class action

An Institute of Education study has found that one in 20 teachers in England are reporting a long-lasting mental-health problem and their wellbeing has not improved over the past three decades.

The working paper, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, is the first piece of research to examine the mental health and wellbeing of teachers in England over time. Researchers analysed data from more than 20,000 teachers and education professionals collected at different waves between 1992 and 2018 from three large population-based surveys.

Lead author Professor John Jerrim says, “The teaching profession in England is in the midst of a crisis and one potential reason why it’s struggling to recruit and retain enough teachers is due to the pressures of the job.”
Learn more about the Institute of Education

Arts therapy

Good news for the over 50s: engaging with the arts will help you to live longer. A new UCL study measured engagement in the ‘receptive arts’, such as going to museums, galleries and concerts, and linked this to mortality. 

The team analysed data from 6,710 adults aged 50 and over from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and followed up with the group after 14 years. The findings showed that adults who engaged in the arts on a frequent basis had a 31% lower risk of dying (2.4 deaths per 1,000 person years) at any point during the follow-up period compared with those who had not.

Lead author Dr Daisy Fancourt (UCL Epidemiology & Health Care) says, “Our study has significance given the current focus on schemes such as ‘social prescribing’ and ‘community service referrals’ that are being used to refer people to community arts activities in a number of countries. In addition to other literature exploring the benefits of such engagement for specific mental and physical health conditions, our results suggest there might also be broader benefits, including helping to promote longer lives.”
Learn more about the Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care

The app also contains key new findings about the Tales by UCL medievalist Professor Richard North. Search for ‘General Prologue’ in Play Store or the App Store.
Access the app online

Class action

An Institute of Education study has found that one in 20 teachers in England are reporting a long-lasting mental-health problem and their wellbeing has not improved over the past three decades.

The working paper, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, is the first piece of research to examine the mental health and wellbeing of teachers in England over time. Researchers analysed data from more than 20,000 teachers and education professionals collected at different waves between 1992 and 2018 from three large population-based surveys.

Lead author Professor John Jerrim says, “The teaching profession in England is in the midst of a crisis and one potential reason why it’s struggling to recruit and retain enough teachers is due to the pressures of the job.”
Learn more about the Institute of Education

Arts therapy

Good news for the over 50s: engaging with the arts will help you to live longer. A new UCL study measured engagement in the ‘receptive arts’, such as going to museums, galleries and concerts, and linked this to mortality. 

The team analysed data from 6,710 adults aged 50 and over from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and followed up with the group after 14 years. The findings showed that adults who engaged in the arts on a frequent basis had a 31% lower risk of dying (2.4 deaths per 1,000 person years) at any point during the follow-up period compared with those who had not.

Lead author Dr Daisy Fancourt (UCL Epidemiology & Health Care) says, “Our study has significance given the current focus on schemes such as ‘social prescribing’ and ‘community service referrals’ that are being used to refer people to community arts activities in a number of countries. In addition to other literature exploring the benefits of such engagement for specific mental and physical health conditions, our results suggest there might also be broader benefits, including helping to promote longer lives.”
Learn more about the Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care

Close up on an eye

In the red

Scientists at the UCL Institute of Opthalmology have discovered that staring at a deep-red light can significantly improve declining eyesight. 

In the UK, there are currently around 12 million people aged over 65 and all will have some degree of visual decline because of retinal ageing. Lead author Professor Glen Jeffery says, “To try to stem or reverse this decline, we sought to reboot the retina’s ageing cells with short bursts of longwave light.”

Participants were given a small prototype LED torch and were asked to look at its deep-red 670nm light beam for three minutes a day for two weeks. The technology is simple and safe, and at around £12 per unit, would be an accessible solution.
Learn more about UCL Institute of Opthalmology

In the red

Scientists at the UCL Institute of Opthalmology have discovered that staring at a deep-red light can significantly improve declining eyesight. 

In the UK, there are currently around 12 million people aged over 65 and all will have some degree of visual decline because of retinal ageing. Lead author Professor Glen Jeffery says, “To try to stem or reverse this decline, we sought to reboot the retina’s ageing cells with short bursts of longwave light.”

Participants were given a small prototype LED torch and were asked to look at its deep-red 670nm light beam for three minutes a day for two weeks. The technology is simple and safe, and at around £12 per unit, would be an accessible solution.
Learn more about UCL Institute of Opthalmology

In the red

Scientists at the UCL Institute of Opthalmology have discovered that staring at a deep-red light can significantly improve declining eyesight. 

In the UK, there are currently around 12 million people aged over 65 and all will have some degree of visual decline because of retinal ageing. Lead author Professor Glen Jeffery says, “To try to stem or reverse this decline, we sought to reboot the retina’s ageing cells with short bursts of longwave light.”

Participants were given a small prototype LED torch and were asked to look at its deep-red 670nm light beam for three minutes a day for two weeks. The technology is simple and safe, and at around £12 per unit, would be an accessible solution.
Learn more about UCL Institute of Opthalmology

Photography Stocksy, Alamy, Getty Images

This article first appeared in issue 7 of Portico magazine, published October 2020.

Photography Stocksy, Alamy, Getty Images

This article first appeared in issue 7 of Portico magazine, published October 2020.

Photography Stocksy, Alamy, Getty Images

This article first appeared in issue 7 of Portico magazine, published October 2020.