Feature article in New Scientist

May 24, 2012 at 3:52 PM

BSMS Doctoral researcher, Natasha Agabalyan, recently became a published author in New Scientist (Dec 2011 issue). Her 4-page feature article is based on her research – tissues turning into bone.

natasha_thumb.jpgNatasha is currently in the second year of her PhD with Professor Darrell Evans studying the mechanism behind tendon ossification.

Tendons are an essential and often neglected component of the musculoskeletal unit. Indispensable in transmitting force from muscle to bone, tendons undergo a huge amount of mechanical stress and provide considerable strength to movements.

The information on the basic biology of tendons is scarce and relatively little is known about the development of tendons, especially when taken as part of the musculoskeletal system.

Whether it is through exercise, age or repetitive strains, tendons are often damaged and repair is poor.  Athletes suffering tendon injuries are often in the news and subsequent performance rarely returns to normal.  In many cases these injuries can results in the laying down of bone-like material within tendon tissue.  Resulting in painful and debilitating conditions, the cellular processes underlying this mechanism are still poorly understood.  The overall objective of Natasha’s study is to identify the basis of the mechanism that results in the ossification of tendons and recognise the role played by the resident tendon cell population.

Alongside her research, Natasha is a budding science writer. She says,

“I have found a passion for writing about science, as it allows me to creatively express my fascination for science.”

She currently runs a blog named ‘The Science Informant’ in which she explores various science topics, from why we faint to the psychology of appetite.  She is also Science Editor of the University of Sussex’s newspaper, 'The Badger' and regularly contributes to various online magazines including 'Cosmos Magazine' and 'Guru Magazine'.

The article for New Scientist is based on the topic of her research – tissues turning into bones – and gives a broad, up-to-date view of the subject.

The piece covers:

  • the debilitating disease FOP (Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva);
  • an introduction to tendons, and how tendon ossification can affect most of the population;
  • some exciting new therapy prospects being studied at the moment.

Natasha says:

“A huge amount of work went into writing the 4 page feature – especially as I am a beginner to the field of science writing and New Scientist has such rigorous requirements – but being published in my favourite magazine is a huge thrill! I can’t wait to write the next one!”


Read Natasha's full article by following the link in her blog.


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