From plants to publishing – a biologist’s story

"I still remember those classic experiments, counting bugs and plants in a quadrat, covering a leaf with black paper and seeing what happened."

As part of this year’s Biology Week celebrations, organised by the Society of Biology, we interviewed Elizabeth Moylan, Biology Editor here at BioMed Central and asked her about what first got her interested in biology and how she ended up working in publishing.

Tell us about what first got you interested in biology, and what you went on to study.

I can’t really remember a ‘light bulb’ moment where I fell in love with the subject so to speak. I guess growing up, the natural world is all around you and it was just fascinating to find things out.

I liked messing around in the garden, and enjoyed all those Attenborough programmes, and at school biology lessons were fun! I still remember those classic …

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Eating for two? The impact of diet, exercise and obesity during pregnancy

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As the global obesity epidemic continues, more and more overweight and obese women are becoming pregnant. It is estimated that around 15-20% of pregnant women in the UK have a body mass index (BMI) higher than 30, which can have serious health consequences for both mothers and their children.

The consequences of obesity during pregnancy

Obesity poses risks to mothers throughout gestation and childbirth, as well as in the postpartum period. During pregnancy, the risk of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia is elevated in obese women, and those with a BMI over 30 are more likely to suffer miscarriages and infections. There are also many risks to babies born to obese women, including stillbirth, preterm delivery, congenital …

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Fungal all the way: kicking off #fungalfortnight

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Let me ask you all a question. What have fungi ever done for you?

Well, from that slice of toast you had for breakfast to inspiring a medical breakthrough that has meant we can now survive once-fatal infectious diseases, the truth is fungi have done more for us than we give them credit for.

In fact, the fungal kingdom is the one we tend to forget when we think about the kingdoms of life, but despite this, fungi are surprisingly ubiquitous and, quite frankly, rather important. So important in fact, that we have launched an open access scientific journal entirely dedicated to them: Fungal Biology and Biotechnology.


Fungal Biology and Biotechnology publishes original scientific research and reviews covering all areas …

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House fly genome could reveal insights into insecticide resistance

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A global team of researchers, led by Jeffrey Scott at Cornell University, have successfully sequenced the house fly genome, published today in Genome Biology. In this guest post, Professor Scott tells us more about why the research represents a significant scientific advance.

An optimist is a fellow who believes a housefly is looking for a way to get out

George Jean Nathan

 House flies are responsible for a great deal of human misery. They transmit over one hundred human diseases, including antibiotic resistance strains. Fly transmitted trachoma alone causes 6 million cases of childhood blindness each year. We hope that the house fly genome will open new opportunities for controlling this pest.

House fly larvae also live in a virtual sea …

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Making multiple changes to lifestyle factors can reduce risk of developing colorectal cancer

Intestines (cropped)

Deborah Gilbert from Bowel & Cancer Research and Mohamed A Thaha the National Centre for Bowel Research and Surgical Innovation at Queen Mary University of London discuss a recent article published in BMC Medicine in which it has been found that adoption of a combination of five key healthy behaviors is associated with a reduction in the risk of developing bowel cancer.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most prevalent cancer and the second most common cancer killer. In recent decades, although cancer care has improved and more people survive longer, many CRC cases are still diagnosed at a late stage, when survival is much less likely. For this reason, much attention is now focused on …

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Thrombosis – what you need to know

Thrombosis facts

Thrombosis – blood clots that form in an artery or vein – is the one disorder that causes all three of the world’s top cardiovascular killers: heart attack, stroke and venous thromboembolism (VTE). Today is World Thrombosis Day, and to mark it, the Editors of Thrombosis Journal have put together some of the key things you ought to know about thrombosis and the associated risks.

An estimated 17.3 million people die every year from cardiovascular disease, making it the number one cause of deaths globally. This is estimated to increase to 20.3 million deaths by 2030. Given these numbers, it is undoubtedly vitally important for us to understand the mechanisms and causes of these diseases.

Heart attacks and strokes are, …

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Life after the Millennium Development Goals: Raising the voices of marginalized communities

Eight goals for 2015

Whilst not perfect, the Millennium Development Goals have helped to focus the work of the global health community. But what happens post 2015? Guest blogger Ana Lorena Ruano, Managing Editor of International Journal for Equity in Health tells us about new research into giving a voice to marginalized communities.

The Millennium Declaration of 2000 presented the world with eight Millennium Development Goals, which aimed to improve social and economic development and to eradicate poverty.

Despite the goals’ shortcomings, the last decade and a half has shown the global health community how useful they can be when it comes to focusing attention and funding into specific areas. Today, the global consensus is to renew these goals through the embracement of …

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Schizophrenia: quality of life and drug treatment

Brain Activity

To recognize World Mental Health day and its focus on living with schizophrenia we‘ve taken a look at some recent research emphasizing quality of life and treatment for those affected by this chronic mental condition.

Seven adults out of every 1,000 have schizophrenia, with half of affected individuals not receiving appropriate care. Over 90% of untreated people are from low- and middle- income countries. The WHO Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) aims to scale up services for mental disorders in these countries by ensuring proper care, psychosocial assistance and medication.

Quality of life

Living with schizophrenia affects daily life. A recent study from the UK, highlighted in the news, showed that delusion prone schizophrenic patients are less likely …

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How the Nobel Prize helps us find out where we are, in every sense

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The Nobel Prizes were announced this week, and the people and findings that are given the most significant award in science can tell us a lot about where science is, and what pressing questions researchers are answering.

For one thing, it tells us where the academy thinks we’ve achieved the most. This year’s nobel prize for physiology or medicine went to John O’Keefe and the Mosers – May-Britt and Edvard, “for their discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain”.

O’Keefe used neurophysiological methods to show that certain hippocampus nerve cells were activated when mice were in a particular spot, and that these built an inner map of the environment. The Mosers then found …

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How safe is the air we breathe?


Research in the field of particle and fiber toxicology doesn’t often hit in the headlines, but these researchers have been vital in uncovering human health ‘black holes’ – illness-causing issues on a grand scale. We take a look into the field, some of its history and what’s still left to uncover.

There’s a material that humans have been using for perhaps as long as 5,000 years. It absorbs sound effectively, is resistant to heat and fire, as well as electrical and chemical damage, and it’s affordable too. By the mid-20th century we were using it in everything from concrete, bricks and pipe insulation, to lawn furniture and flooring. In Japan it was even used in the process of rice …

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