In case you’ve never heard of it before, Pint of Science is a worldwide science festival that brings researchers to local spaces to share their scientific discoveries with you – with no prior knowledge required. It’s all about making science more accessible to everyone, which can only be a good thing in our books.
The Projects Team hit up the session at the Espresso Library in Cambridge on Monday the 9th May entitled: ‘Not all genes are equal,’ which featured talks from scientists Dr Giles Yeo and Dr Miguel Constância. The session was sponsored by Cambridge Rare Disease Network (CRDN), meaning a big focus on rare diseases!
Giles took to the floor to prove to us why obesity, what we weigh and our relationship with food is not a choice. In fact, whether we can fit into our jeans one month and not the next can have an overwhelming amount to do with what’s in our genes. He introduced us to leptin, a protein produced by fat cells that is a hormone acting mainly in the regulation of appetite and fat storage, and taught us what happens in the body when people have too little or no leptin.
Spoiler: Their bodies think that they are starving, which causes them to gain a lot of weight. He also showed us the evolutionary perspective behind this, namely in the form of the blind mexican cave fish, which needed to develop insatiable appetites in order to survive on the measly number of unlucky plankton that may float by and become dinner for the cave fish who had been evolutionarily trained to be forever hungry.
See what the Projects Team had to say about it!
Philippa, our Senior Projects Officer
Hannah, our Projects Officer
Mary Rose, our Chief Operating Officer (COO)
Obesity is, unfortunately, a subject which is often met with a lot of stigma; people are often seen as lazy or not trying hard enough to lose weight. Giles made it clear that this is not the case, demonstrating how subtle variations in our genes could make substantial differences in our body weight. However, as a result of these negative attitudes, many people do not get the appropriate care or advice they need – something which is also common in rare diseases. Giles’ take home message was to stress the need for further education and awareness, both for the medical professional and wider public.’
Cheers to the many pints of knowledge and discussion.
Until next time!