Today's news

June 22, 2004


Two-thirds of medical students are women
Women doctors will outnumber their male colleagues within eight years because of a dramatic rise in the number of female medical students now in training, research by the British Medical Association has shown. Almost two-thirds of medical students are women, according to data for 2003, compared with just 29 per cent in the early 1960s. More than 4,700 female applicants were accepted into medical schools last year, surpassing the male intake by 1,800. Doctors' leaders said last night that the traditional perception of medicine as a male profession had come full circle, with women doctors likely to outstrip men by 2012.
( Times )

Admit poor to medical school, says BMA
Poor students should be admitted to medical school with lower A-level grades than the children of professional parents to stop the middle classes dominating the profession, the British Medical Association said yesterday. It published a report showing that only 2 per cent of medical students came from poorer homes.
( Independent )

100 fake colleges in visa scam
More than 100 "colleges" in England and Wales have been exposed as bogus vehicles for an immigration scam as a result of the first phase of a crackdown on the abuse of student visas, Home Office officials revealed last night. Bill Jeffrey, director of the Home Office's immigration and nationality directorate, told MPs last night that more than 100 of the 400 proved not to be genuine. Two months ago, Home Secretary David Blunkett announced that he and Education Secretary Charles Clarke were to set up a register of all education providers.
( Guardian, Financial Times, Daily Telegraph )

Smokers miss out on 50 years of medical advances
Most of the life-prolonging medical advances of the past 50 years have been lost on smokers because of their habit, according to a report published today by Sir Richard Doll, the researcher who first revealed the link between smoking and lung cancer. The 92-year-old professor will announce the findings in the conclusions of his 50-year study into the health risks of tobacco. Despite all the other improvements in modern medicine and public health, smoking still cuts 10 years off a person's life, he will say. The findings will be published in the British Medical Journal on Saturday.
( Independent, Times )

Commercial space mission goes sky high
The success of a privately funded voyage to 62 miles above the Mojave desert in California yesterday could revolutionise future flights from Earth and puts SpaceShipOne in pole position to win the $10 million (£5.5 million) Ansari X Prize for the first commercial space flight to transport three people to the edge of space and back twice within a fortnight. The prize, launched by a group of entrepreneurs and space enthusiasts in 1996 in the hope of spurring a private space race, has prompted teams to develop competing systems. SpaceShipOne 's attempts to secure the prize are expected later this year.
( Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Times, Independent, Financial Times )

DNA left at crime scene will reveal skin colour
Scientists have found a way to tell the eye and skin colour of a suspect from the DNA left at the scene of a crime. The colour of eyes is influenced by the interaction of several genes, according to the study published in the journal Trends in Genetics by Richard Sturm of Queensland University, Australia, and Tony Frudakis of the company Dnaprint Genomics, Florida, US.
( Daily Telegraph )

Neanderthal man was not so dumb after all
Analysis of ear bones from fossilised skulls dating back at least 350,000 years has shown that Neanderthal man's hearing was attuned to pick up the same frequencies as those used in modern human speech. Details of the study by researchers from the University of Alcalá in Spain are reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences .
( Independent, Times )

Dyslexia causes mooted
Dyslexia and similar disabilities may be caused by a delay in the development of important regions of the brain, scientists from Northwestern University in Illinois, US, say. This indicates that early intervention with specialist teaching could be critical to limit the impact that such problems have later in life. The findings are reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences .
( Times )

Oldest doctor awarded
The Rev Edgar Dowse, 93, has picked up a doctorate from the London School of Theology that makes him the country's oldest recipient of a PhD. Dr Dowse of Isleworth, southwest London, who spent four years on his 100,000-word thesis, said: "Now I can relax for a while."
( Times )

Room for improvement
A look at whether universities are evading their pastoral responsibilities to students by selling off their halls of residence to private firms.
( Guardian )

Carol Robinson: Society doyenne
An interview with Carol Robinson, the Cambridge chemist who was elected a fellow of the Royal Society earlier this month.
( Guardian )

Alternative guide to university
The Virgin 2005 Alternative Guide to British Universities - written by students for students - is now available from bookstores.
( Evening Standard )

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