In 2018, influenza made headlines, with the 2017/18 flu season heralded on of the 'worst ever' for the National Health Service with the highest number of influenza-related hospital admissions since 2010. This flu season has been markedly different. But why is there so much variation?
This month, we spoke with Dr John McCauley, Director of the World Health Organization's Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza, at the Francis Crick Institute, and Dr Othmar Engelhardt, Principal Scientist in the Division of Virology at the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control. In this episode, we discuss how different subtypes and strains of influenza can have different effects in the population, and how microbiologists are working on preparing vaccines for the upcoming flu season.
For more information about influenza, why not read our blog Déjà flu: can science help the NHS cope with the annual burden of respiratory infections? from the Hot Topic lecture at the Microbiology Society Annual Conference 2018: https://microbiologysociety.org/blog/d-j-flu-can-science-help-the-nhs-cope-with-the-annual-burden-of-respiratory-infections.html
This is our first episode of a new series called 'Domino Effect'. In this episode, Lena (@drlenaciric) interviews Paul (@PaulHoskisson) about his research history, his hobbies and the importance of science communication. Next time it will be Lena's turn in the hot seat!
If you would like to get involved in a future episode of Domino Effect, e-mail email@example.com
To book a place at the Microbiology Society Annual Conference 2019: microbiologysociety.org/event/annual-…nference.html
The panic that sets in just before taking the stand at a conference is all too common. Wouldn’t it be great if there was some way to get presenting experience in a relaxed, friendly environment?
The Junior Awards for Microbiology (JAM Talks) are the monthly seminar series based in Birmingham that allows early career researchers to gain experience presenting to an audience of their peers.
This month, we talked to Alice Lanne and Anja Djokic - both part of the JAM Talks Organising Committee - to discuss their involvement in the talks and their views on the importance of presenting experience for early career researchers.
Why Microbiology Matters
To celebrate our 75th anniversary in 2020, we’re inviting members to nominate the discovery or event that best showcases why microbiology matters and helps us demonstrate the impact of microbiologists past, present and future.
To make your submission, click on the link below
This month, we spoke with Dr Alexandre de Menezes, soil microbiologist. Last year, Dr de Menezes went to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone to see how the nuclear disaster is impacting the microbes in the soil, over 30 years later. We will cover what the soil microbiome is, why is it important and how microbes are affected by radiation
This month, we have spoken with Dr Nicholas Johnson about the ongoing outbreak of West Nile Virus in Europe. Dr Johnson researches arboviruses, which are spread by mosquitoes at the UK's Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
To find out more about the research done at APHA: www.gov.uk/government/organisa…ency/about/research
For outbreak reports from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control: ecdc.europa.eu/en/home
To find out more about Flaviviruses: jgv.microbiologyresearch.org/content/jo…v.0.000672
This month, we've caught up with microbiologist Ruth MacLaren, owner and founder of Sciencedipity.
This May, Ruth was at the Eden Project running a number of activities as part of their launch week for their new exhibit Invisible Worlds.
To find out more about the Invisible Worlds exhibit: https://microbepost.org/2018/06/20/invisible-worlds-at-the-eden-project/
To find out more about The Microbiology Society's engagement and outreach grants, see: https://microbiologysociety.org/education-outreach/get-involved.html
Malawi, in Sub-Saharan Africa, has the highest incidence and mortality of cervical cancer in the world. Nearly all cases of cervical cancer are caused by human papillomavirus, or HPV.
Earlier this year, the Microbiology Society funded one of our members, Dr Ramya Bhatia, to travel to Malawi as part of a research collaboration between Nkhoma Hospital and the University of Edinburgh.
In this podcast, Ramya talks to us about her time in Malawi, and Nkhoma's highly successful cervical cancer screening programme.
Image credit: Derek Brumby/Thinkstock
This month, we’re bringing you a real highlight from our Annual Conference in Edinburgh: a live discussion about the state of microbiome research.
A panel of experts gave their views on whether microbiome research is an opportunity, or whether it’s been over-hyped.
It was a really lively event with a great audience, and it was chaired by our very own Dr Benjamin Thompson.
Prof Julian Marchesi, Imperial College London
Prof Jim Prosser, University of Aberdeen
Dr Lindsay Hall, University of East Anglia
Dr Thorunn Helgason, University of York
Have you ever wondered about the kinds of microbes that are present in your kitchen? In the fruit bowl or the fridge, on your chopping boards or cleaning cloths?
Good Germs Bad Germs is a citizen science project from the University of Oxford, allowing people to experiment on the microbial life in their kitchens and to visualise the results.
This month, we went to Oxford to visit one of the households taking part in the project, and spoke to researchers Dr Jamie Larimer and Dr Beth Greenhough about they've found.
More information at www.goodgerms.org
Images courtesy of the researchers
In 2008, researchers from Google announced that they could predict outbreaks of the flu up to two weeks before the US authorities, by monitoring people's Google search behaviour.
The algorithm tracked searches for flu symptoms and remedies, which would increase in the build-up to an outbreak. Flu is a serious disease that can cause up to half a million deaths each year – so Google flu trends caused a lot of excitement in the field when it emerged.
But for all the hype, it didn't actually work. In the end, Google flu trends failed pretty badly. So what went wrong?
This month, we speak to public health experts and computer scientists to find out, and learn how the field of 'Digital Epidemiology' has moved on to successfully track disease outbreaks online.
We hear from Professor Guy Poppy and Dr Sian Thomas from the Food Standards Agency in the UK about a tool to track norovirus using tweets, and all the #vomit that entails.
And we speak to Professor Alessandro Vespignani from Northeastern University in the US about how Twitter can help to build virtual synthetic worlds where researchers can model the spread of flu.
Music: Anonymous420, Lee Rosevere and Candlegravity
SFX: fattirewhitey and kinoton on freesound.org
Image: artlensfoto on thinkstock