University College London

  1. Loneliness linked to '18% of cases of depression in older adults'

    Almost one in five cases of depression in older adults could be prevented if loneliness were eliminated, research suggests.

    Loneliness was linked to up to 18% of depression cases in adults aged over 50, researchers from University College London (UCL), King's College London, Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust and Imperial College London found.

    The researchers found that people's subjective experiences of loneliness were linked to developing depression up to 12 years later, independent of more objective measures of social isolation.

    'Sense of belongingness'

    Senior author Dr Gemma Lewis, from UCL's Division of Psychiatry, said: "We found that whether people considered themselves to be lonely was a bigger risk factor for depression than how many social contacts and support they had.

    "The findings suggest that it's not just spending time with other people that matters, but having meaningful relationships and companionship."

    Dr Lewis added: "Our study has important public health implications, as it suggests that community-based approaches designed to reduce loneliness could reduce depression rates.

    "Building relationships, meaningful connections and a sense of belongingness may be more important than just increasing how much time people spend with others."

    The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging, in the US, and a consortium of UK Government departments coordinated by the National Institute for Health Research. It is published in The Lancet Psychiatry.

  2. Robots used to clean airport in coronavirus fight

    Robots that can clean door handles and seats are being trialed at a Yorkshire airport to see if they can help in the fight against the coronavirus.

    Robot cleaner

    The University of Leeds has been using the machines at Leeds Bradford Airport and in Leeds city centre where they spray objects with a mist of diluted alcohol.

    The robots use artificial intelligence to identify objects that need regular cleaning, like seats, bike stands or doors.

    They then work together to avoid crashing into things or people.

    The project, which involves the universities of Leeds and Birmingham, and University College London, was set up in May to look at how robots can help slow the spread of the virus.

    Dr Mohammed Shaqura, from the University of Leeds, said: “The aim is to have robots that can regularly disinfect those spaces, doing away with the need for people to clean them and the risks they would face in becoming contaminated themselves.

    “We are using machine learning techniques to have the robots fully autonomous, so they "know" which objects need cleaning – and will only require high-level supervision from operators.”

  3. UCL to review two buildings named after eugenicists

    Sarah Lee

    BBC London

    UCL

    University College London (UCL) plans to rename two of its buildings currently named after two prominent eugenicists Francis Galton and Karl Pearson.

    Victorian scientist Galton, who coined the term eugenics, endowed UCL with his personal collection and archive, along with an endowment that funded the country’s first professorial chair of eugenics.

    UCL President & Provost, Professor Michael Arthur, said: “UCL has a problematic history with eugenics which has, and continues, to cause significant concern for many in our community and has a profound impact on the sense of belonging that we want all of our staff and students to have.

    “This is evident from the fact that some of the university’s most prominent buildings are still named after eugenicists such as Galton and Pearson.

    "Although UCL is a very different place than it was in the 19th century, any suggestion that we celebrate these ideas or the figures behind them creates an unwelcoming environment for many in our community.

    "That is why I have today asked our Buildings Naming and Renaming Committee to review the current naming of spaces and buildings as a priority.

    “While this is an important first step towards address our past, we clearly need to go much further and look at what further practical and targeted steps we can take to address racism and inequality."

  4. Tributes paid to healthcare workers who died with Covid-19

    Family

    Tributes have been paid to two London healthcare workers who died after contracting coronavirus.

    Jennie Sablayan, a haematology nurse, and Afua Fofie, a healthcare assistant, both died after testing positive for the virus.

    Ms Sablayan, 44, had been working at the University College London Hospital (UCLH) for more than 18 years, having previously trained in the Philippines

    She was described by UCLH as an "expert in her field" who treated patients with leukaemia and lymphoma with kindness and dedication.

    According to a GoFundMe set up to raise money in her memory, she died on 5 May and leaves behind a husband and two daughters.

    UCLH chief executive Marcel Levi said: "UCLH staff and patients will remember Jennie for her hard-working and unassuming approach during her 18 years of invaluable service. We will miss her terribly, her humour, her compassion, her friendship and her humbleness in supporting her team and her patients.

    "Our thoughts are with her husband Joel and her two children, her friends and other loved ones."

    Ms Fofie, a healthcare assistant on the Pamela Bryant Ward at Teddington Memorial Hospital, died last month, however her family were not ready to share details at the time.

    The Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare Trust confirmed her death and described her as being "known for her infectious laugh and willingness to go the extra mile for patients and her colleagues".

    It added: "She always put her patients first and her loss will be keenly felt by those who knew her and worked alongside her.

  5. Concerns raised over new NHS tracing app

    Thomas Mackintosh

    BBC London News

    Concerns have been raised by a London academic about the privacy of a new NHS app designed to trace people with coronavirus.

    Council and healthcare workers on the Isle of Wight will be the first to try the contact-tracing app - and if successful it could be made available to the rest of the public in the UK.

    But, Prof Susan Michie , who is part of UCL's Health Psychology and Director of the Centre for Behaviour Change, said the app trial has many issues that need to be addressed.

    "I am slightly concerned tht there has not been enough consultation with the public," Prof Michie said.

    "There are a lot of concerns which are being raised by the public about the governance of it, the security and privacy of it - and the private company that is owning it.

    "So whether or not the public will take it up in the numbers that are needed is a question mark."

    new nhs app
  6. Two suspects still sought over 'racist coronavirus attack'

    Thomas Mackintosh

    BBC London News

    Video content

    Video caption: 'I don't want your coronavirus in my country:' Student attacked in London

    Two suspects are still wanted over an attack on a UCL student from Singapore who has said he was beaten up by a group of men who told him: "I don't want your coronavirus in my country."

    Jonathan Mok, 23, said he was walking down Oxford Street on 28 February when he heard shouts of "coronavirus".

    When he confronted the four men, he previously told the BBC, they launched a surprise attack that left him badly hurt.

    The Met Police said it was treating the attack as "racially aggravated" and arrested two teenagers in March.

    Two boys, aged 16 and 15, were arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated assault and remain on bail, the Met Police has said.

    Detective Sergeant Emma Kirby, the officer in the case, said: “This attack left the victim shaken and hurt.

    "There’s no room on our streets for this kind of violent behaviour and we are committed to finding the perpetrators.

    “I am keen to speak to anyone who has information about this assault."

  7. 'There will be more waves of coronavirus'

    Thomas Mackintosh

    BBC London News

    Prof Anthony Costello

    An academic at the University College London (UCL) has warned that the UK is "going to face further waves" of the coronavirus.

    Prof Anthony Costello, of UCL's Institute for Global Health, said: "If we're going to suppress the chain of transmission of this virus in the next stage we all hope that the national lockdown and social distancing will bring about a large suppression of the epidemic so far - but we're going to face further waves.

    "And so we need to make sure that we have a system in place that cannot just do a certain number of tests in the laboratory, but has a system at district and community level."

    He added that "the harsh reality" is that "we were too slow with a number of things" which may have led the UK to have "probably the highest death rates in Europe".

    But Prof Costello said we "should not have any blame at this stage".

    "We can make sure in the second wave we're not too slow," he said.

  8. Mercedes make breathing aid freely available

    Andrew Benson

    BBC Sport’s chief F1 writer

    Mercedes has made the design of a new breathing-aid device it helped develop freely available to help fight coronavirus.

    The device helps patients with lung infections breathe more easily when an oxygen mask alone is insufficient.

    The device was designed in conjunction with University College London.

    Breathing device

    UCL Hospital consultant Professor Mervyn Singer said: "These devices help save lives by ensuring ventilators are used only for the most severely ill."

    The UK government has ordered 10,000 of the devices.

    Mercedes said they were being produced "at a rate of up to 1,000 a day" at its engine-design base in Brixworth, Northamptonshire.