How We Look

Issue 8 | June 2008

Reflection in sunglasses of young person taking a photograph

How We Look

***Articles reviewed and updated in November 2014***

What do we mean by ‘normal’? Why do we take the form we do? Why do we do so much to change what nature has given us? What might we look like in the future? This issue looks at the remarkable interplay between the biology that sculpts our form and the culture that interprets, embellishes and adapts this form.

Browse through the individual articles, check out our image galleries and quizzes and watch our film interviews. This issue was first published in 2008; in 2014, all of the individual resources were reviewed and updated for accuracy and currency. Please do note, however, that the PDF of the original 2008 issue has not been updated.

Face the facts

Building a face

Making a face depends on a remarkably complex process of cell migration and differentiation

Recognition and response

Over time we become adept at distinguishing face types we see regularly and less good at deciphering faces of other ethnic groups

Who are you?

Some people are less able to identify or interpret facial expressions

Faces on the brain

The brain has specific areas devoted to the face

Read my face

Whether or not the face is the ‘window to the soul’, it certainly can provide a way to assess someone’s internal state

Is he fit?

Hormones can affect how faces look – and how we react to them

Happy faces – sheep style

Can animals draw information from faces in the way we can? The evidence seems to suggest that, to some degree, they can

Bodytalk

Human shape

What decides our physical form?

Your own two feet

Bipedalism is one of the defining features of humans

Muscles and skeleton

Genes and upbringing determine how our bodies grow

Inside story

How do we know where our body begins and ends?

Phantom limbs

Can you feel something that’s no longer there?

Seven ways to study human development

Much is known about how organisms – including humans – develop. How has this knowledge been obtained?

Sexual dimorphism

Are males always bigger than females? Sometimes, nothing could be further from the truth…

Gaydar?

Humans are adept at rapidly drawing information about other people from the way they look. But is it possible to assess sexual orientation?

Rubber arm

How the brain can be fooled into thinking an inanimate object is part of the body

In limbo: dealing with extreme body dysmorphia

Should doctors comply with requests to amputate healthy limbs?

Judging books by their covers

Stereotyping is a short-term strategy that often causes long-term problems

Growth and form

Evo-devo

Research combining evolution and developmental biology – ‘evo-devo’ – has become increasingly popular in recent years

Genes and body plans

To build something, you need instructions – for bodies, a genome

Genes that affect how we look

Researchers are beginning to identify the genetic factors responsible for our physical appearance

Developmental disorders

There are many thousands of genetic disorders that affect physical or intellectual development (or both)

Entertainment or exploitation?

Physical difference on display

From Sonic hedgehog to sasquatch: how genes get their names

Why doe some genes have such odd names?

Blue eyes and red hair

The genetic basis of blue eyes and the classic Celtic look – red hair and pale skin – has been discovered

Environmental effects

Our physical appearance can be altered while we are still in the womb

What is my fate?

In effect, embryogenesis boils down to the fate of cells – making sure a nose cell turns into a nose cell where a nose should be

Am I normal?

A quest for perfection?

Why are we so rarely satisfied with our looks?

When bigger isn’t always better

Dwarfism is rare, but not that rare. Is it something to be treated or just part of life’s rich tapestry?

Disorderly behaviour

Eating disorders are on the increase. Is our obsession with appearance to blame?

Biological sex and ‘brain sex’

What happens when the two don’t match? And is there a third way?

Ageing and society

Attitudes to ageing tend to be negative. Why is this? And has it always been the case?

Tattoo me

Body modification is one way of expressing identity

Looking the wrong way

Inferring ‘types’ from external appearance has led science down some unfortunate roads

Alphanumeric appearance

Each of us is unique. Technology is now providing new ways to capture and record that uniqueness

Albinism

Having no skin pigment at all makes you stand out from the crowd, but can also lead to stigmatisation

Walking into trouble

Abnormal gaits can be diagnostic of serious underlying conditions, affecting the locomotory systems or the brain systems that control them

Whose beauty?

Facial symmetry and averageness seem to be considered attractive across cultures. But what about body size?

Fat chance

How far should we go in tackling the ‘obesity epidemic’?

Beauty spot

Hips do lie

We do seem to find slim figures appealing – though ratios seem to be more important (and it depends whether we are hungry or not)

‘Darling, you’re so average…’

The key to beauty? Symmetry and ‘averageness’

Changing colours

Skin colour fashions come and go, but both darkening and lightening pose a threat to health

Looking good

Is our concern about our appearance mere vanity – or does beauty confer social advantages?

Case study: Saartjie Baartman

How the ‘Hottentot Venus’ from South Africa was put on show in England

Animal appearance images

While this isn’t a literal case of a leopard changing its spots, there are many ways and reasons animals alter their appearance

Ethical questions

It’s the future: Marrying machines

Could we create lifelike robots to have relationships with?

It’s the future: Miteymuscle

We imagine the possibilities of laminated scaffolding in muscle beds

It’s the future: Artificial wombs

We imagine how artificial wombs might allow a woman in her 80s to have more children

It’s the future: Pre-birth cosmetic enhancement

Enhancement in utero? We imagine the possibilities...

It’s the future: Artificially enhanced athletes

Could the Olympics one day allow all types of enhancement?

Real Voices interviews

Real Voices interview: Nichola Dean

We spoke to Nichola and Stefan about what it’s like having achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism

Real Voices video interview: Henrietta, Adam and Helen from Changing Faces

Meet three people from Changing Faces, the facial disfigurement charity, who talk about dealing with difficult social situations and the attitudes and stereotypes that people with a visible difference can encounter

Real Voices interview: Henrietta Spalding

Meet Henrietta, of the charity Changing Faces, who has a facial paralysis condition

Real Voices interview: Jan Upfold

We spoke to Jan Upfold, a market researcher, who has undergone cosmetic surgery on several occasions

Activities and lesson ideas

Sexual dimorphism quiz

Try our special ‘sexual dimorphism’ quiz, which challenges your assumptions about what the male and female of a species should look like

Lesson idea: It’s the future

What might we look like? how might we change the way we look? Examine some potential scenarios and brainstorm a few others

Further resources and activities on appearance and development

As well as ‘Big Picture’, the Wellcome Trust has funded many other organisations to produce the following activities and resources to engage young people and help them understand more about how we look

Fast Facts

Each issue of 'Big Picture' comes with a sprinkling of Fast Facts, fascinating snippets of information on the topic covered.

Browse through all of our Fast Facts indexed by topic

Health and Climate Change

Issue 9 | January 2009

Earth as it would appear should the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets melt, raising ocean levels by an estimated 67.5 metres

Health and Climate Change

***Articles reviewed and updated in October 2014***

The Earth’s climate is changing. In fact, it has always been changing. What is different now is the speed of change and the main cause of change – human activities. This issue asks: What are the biggest threats to human health? Who will suffer as the climate changes? What can be done to minimise harm? And how do we cope with uncertainty?

Browse through the individual articles, check out our image galleries and poster, and consider our lesson ideas, which include an interactive game. This issue was first published in 2009; in 2014, all of the individual resources were reviewed and updated for accuracy and currency. Please do note, however, that the PDF of the original 2009 issue has not been updated from its original form.

Catch up on climate change

Changes to environment and ecosystems: a climate change primer

Interested in climate change but not sure where to start? Our primer will help you understand the basics

Connecting climate change

The factors behind climate change are complex, dynamic and interlinked

How does climate change affect human health?

Climate change brings with it an increase in malnutrition, mental health conditions, infectious disease spread and even death

Five ways to study climate change

Are you interested in studying climate change? There are many different scientific disciplines that analyse the subject

Too hot for comfort

Organisms – including humans – are adapted to a narrow range of temperatures

The heat is on

Our climate is changing; with greenhouse gas emissions still rising, the planet is poised to undergo a profound change

Go for Gaia

In the 1970s James Lovelock developed the idea that Earth can be seen as a giant self-regulating organism – the Gaia hypothesis

The known impact of climate change

Documented evidence of the biological impact of climate change

Past, present and future

Reconstructing the past

How do we know what the Earth’s climate was like in the past?

Using the past to predict the future

How do we know what is going to happen next to the Earth – and to humans?

Imagining the future

We can measure things now, and infer what the past was like, but how do we predict what will happen next?

How can modelling be applied to human health?

The challenge is to understand how the key factors affecting health will be altered by climate change

Just a tick

Modelling of tick ecology can pinpoint areas at risk of tick-borne diseases

Dealing with uncertainty

How can we decide what to do when the future is unclear?

Difficult choices

Human psychology may be an obstacle to quick action when it comes to climate change

Climate change and people

Heating up

What do hotter temperatures mean for everyday life?

A growing problem

Agriculture: good news for some, bad news for most

Sea level rise

Rising sea levels are already threatening low-lying countries, as well as coastal regions

Mosquito measures

Will climate change promote the spread of malaria?

Stormy weather

Climate change promises to bring more turbulent weather

Cholera

What is cholera, and how is it affected by climate change?

Social impact

How will communities or countries cope with climate change?

Reducing methane emissions

Could changing our diet help?

Climate and civilisation

Have changes in climate had a hand in the collapse of civilisations?

Vulnerable groups

Coastal communities

Coastal communities are likely to be hard hit by climate change

The animals

How will populations respond to climate change?

Food sources

How climate change could affect the future of the food we eat

Rural communities

Poor farmers will bear the brunt of climate change

The West

With its extensive infrastructure and resources, the West is better placed to withstand climate change – but it will not escape unscathed

Urban communities

More people now live in cities than in rural areas

Coral reefs

These beautiful structures protect coastal regions and provide food and livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people

A moving story

Climate change affects people’s mental as well as physical health

An age of uncertainty

Controversy? What controversy?

Raging arguments over climate change? Not among the experts…

Who’s who in climate scepticism

Who are the main factions in the debate and what do they believe?

Media coverage

Have the media created a spurious debate about climate change?

Using the media

Climate change activists and sceptics both attempt to use the media to promote their point of view

Uneasy bedfellows

What happens when science, the public and politics meet?

Is climate change really to blame?

Uncertainty extends to the health impacts of climate change

A model of health

Compared with climate modelling, health impact modelling is in its infancy

Dual processes

Climate change has seen parallel scientific and political processes

Economic perspectives

What is climate change’s impact on our bank balance?

A maverick view? Challenging the consensus

Can science cope with those who rock the boat?

Where next?

Public health response

How might public authorities protect people’s health in the future?

Adapt or avoid?

We will need to adapt to cope with the impact of climate change – but is there more we can do?

We can work it out

What does it take to get people working together?

Spinoff benefits

Many changes aimed at tackling climate change will bring extra benefits

Cutting carbon

How do we do it?

Stabilising greenhouse gas emissions

How likely is it that greenhouse gas emissions will be curbed?

Activities and lesson ideas

Climate Health Impact game

Explore the effects of climate change on the world’s population

Health and Climate Change poster

Download a copy of our poster, which explores the connections between carbon cycle and climate change

Further resources and activities on health and climate change

This topic stimulates interdisciplinary interest and much debate across the subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics

Real Voices interviews

Real Voices interview: Geoff Hill

Meet Geoff, who gives his perspective on climate change from the West Midlands

Real Voices interview: Kevin Mududa

Meet Kevin, who gives a local perspective from Kenya on climate change and its implications for human health

Real Voices interview: Kim Nguyen-Thi

Meet Kim, a doctor in Vietnam who gives her perspective on climate change

Fast Facts

Each issue of 'Big Picture' comes with a sprinkling of Fast Facts, fascinating snippets of information on the topic covered.

Browse through all of our Fast Facts indexed by topic

Genes, Genomes and Health

Issue 11 | January 2010

Image from a rotating DNA double helix animation

Genes, Genomes and Health

***Articles reviewed and updated in December 2014*** 

Mind-boggling progress has been made in our ability to sequence a genome accurately and quickly, and in our ability to process and understand the huge amount of data that sequencing produces. What do these developments mean for each of us – our health, our identity, and the world we live in – now and in the future?

Browse through the individual articles and check out our activities and lesson ideas. This issue was first published in 2010; in 2014, all of the individual resources were reviewed and updated for accuracy and currency. Please note, however, that the PDF of the original 2010 issue has not been updated.

Genome basics

All in sequence

Why is determining an organism’s genome sequence important?

A brief history of DNA

A look at some DNA milestones

Great expectations

The draft human genome held many surprises for researchers

Bare essentials

Some necessary molecules we can only get from our diet

Genes and health

Can you resist?

Genetic variations play a part in disease resistance

Nature and nurture

Most conditions involve an interaction between genes and environment

Seeing into the future

Why finding the genes linked to a particular disease is just the beginning of finding a treatment or cure

Sequencing bacteria

Knowing the genetic sequence of an organism can help us trace how it spreads

What do we know now?

How is current research investigating the genetic basis of disease?

Single-gene and chromosome disorders

Some conditions are caused by genetic ‘abnormalities’

Getting personal

Is the future of pharmaceuticals really all me, me, me?

Future plans

Long-term population studies help researchers plan for future discoveries today

Exploring genes and genomes

Animation: DNA sequencing – the Sanger method

This animation on the most commonly used method of sequencing DNA – the dideoxy or chain termination method – was developed by Fred Sanger in 1977

Video: Sequencing my genome

Sir James Watson, one of the two co-discoverers of the structure of DNA, talks about the time his genome was sequenced

$1,000 genome

Getting your genome sequenced is rapidly becoming more affordable

More than genes

The genome is far from just a collection of genes

Understanding RNAs

Exploring the many roles of RNA

Measuring up

How does the human genome compare with the genomes of other organisms?

Whose genes?

The reference human genome combines the DNA of several people

Exploring epigenetics

Is it through epigenetics that environment affects our DNA?

Model organisms in genetics research: the zebrafish

Ben Stockton finds out how the zebrafish came to be a model organism

Model organisms in genetics research: the mouse

How did the mouse come to be a model organism?

Model organisms in genetics research: the nematode worm

Ben Stockton finds out how the nematode worm came to be a model organism

Sequencing technologies

How have gene sequencing technologies developed, and what does this mean for researchers today?

Animation: What is gene editing and how does it work?

Watch this short animation to learn about gene editing, a rapidly developing field that could have big implications for human health

Genes and you

Beyond nuclear

Mitochondria mean that there’s a bit more of mum in all of us

Understanding the links

How do researchers tease apart genetic and environmental factors?

The genomes in us

Like it or not, our bodies are teeming with billions of microorganisms

It’s all history now

How DNA studies help to trace the origins of modern humans

Getting physical

Small genetic changes can mean big physical differences

In your genes

How much of ‘me’ is determined by my genome?

Putting the Y into you

What the Y chromosome tells us about our past

Historical aspects

A brief history of DNA

A look at some DNA milestones

It’s all history now

How DNA studies help to trace the origins of modern humans

Model organisms in genetics research: the zebrafish

Ben Stockton finds out how the zebrafish came to be a model organism

Model organisms in genetics research: the mouse

How did the mouse come to be a model organism?

Ethical questions

Whose rights? Insurance and genetic information

Genetic advances have great potential for improving health, but they also raise questions about privacy and who should have access to personal information such as genetic data. Take a look at the made-up scenario below to explore issues that are far from black and white

Whose rights? Genetic testing before birth

Take a look at the made-up scenario below to explore issues around prenatal genetic testing that are far from black and white

Whose rights? Whole-genome screening

Take a look at two made-up scenarios to explore issues that are far from black and white

Video: National DNA Database

Should everyone in the UK be added to the National DNA Database?

Personal perspectives

Real Voices interview: Anaar Sajoo

Meet Anaar, as she tells Chrissie Giles about her life as a genetic counsellor

What Turner syndrome is like for me

An interview with Kylie about her life with Turner syndrome, a chromosome disorder that is thought to affect 3,000 women and girls in the UK

What primary ciliary dyskinesia is like for me

An interview with Rachael, a civil servant and part-time student, who tells us how a genetic condition called primary ciliary dyskinesia affects her life

What androgen insensitivity syndrome is like for me

An interview with a 25-year-old female about her experiences of living with an intersex condition. Born a woman, she carries XY, not XX, sex chromosomes

Real Voices interview: Matt Ellison

Meet Matt, who is living with the prospect of developing Huntington’s disease

Real Voices interview: Dr Elizabeth Murchison

Meet Elizabeth, a cancer researcher focusing on Tasmanian devils

Activities and lesson ideas

Ginger Dawn, Breeder and Heroes games

Play these free online games and explore more about genes and inheritance

Further resources and activities about genetics and genomics

The Wellcome Trust has funded many organisations that produce activities and resources to engage and educate young people about genetics and genomics

Lesson idea: National DNA Database

Should everyone in the UK be added to the National DNA Database?

Fast Facts

Each issue of 'Big Picture' comes with a sprinkling of Fast Facts, fascinating snippets of information on the topic covered.

Browse through all of our Fast Facts indexed by topic

Food and Diet

Issue 14 | June 2011

High-protein foods

Food and Diet

***Articles reviewed and updated in August 2016***

Humans, like all living things, cannot survive without food. For many of us, though, food is about so much more than sustenance. Culture, identity, religion, relationships, mood, fashion, pleasure – what we choose to eat touches on many aspects of our lives. In this issue, we look at what drives us to eat, what happens to food once we’ve eaten it, and what impact our dietary choices have on not only our health and wellbeing, but also that of others across the world.

Browse through the individual articles, check out our videos and image galleries, and consider our lesson ideas. This issue was first published in 2011; in 2016, all of the individual resources were reviewed and updated for accuracy and currency. Please do note, however, that the PDFs of the original 2011 issue and infographic have not been updated.

Chemistry of consumption

Measuring energy

How do we measure the energy in food?

Bare essentials

Some necessary molecules we can only get from our diet

Inherited metabolic diseases

Defects in enzymes can lead to disease

Can’t eat, won’t eat?

How does having an aversion to a food differ from an allergy?

Hard to tolerate

The way we metabolise chemicals varies between populations

Animation: Atheroma in the artery

Watch or download our animation showing the development of atheroma in the artery

Why do we eat?

The science of being hungry

Appetite involves the brain, stomach and hormones

Skinny genes

What part do our genes play in body size?

Happy meals

Eating food can make us feel good

Matter of taste

How do we recognise different tastes?

Sensing food

We use many senses when eating

Part of the process

Why do we process food?

Differences in taste

Genetic variation between people means that it’s easier for some of us to eat our greens

What is a healthy diet?

Diet and behaviour

How might your diet affect how you behave?

A healthy weight

BMI is one way to define a healthy weight

Caloric restriction

Will eating less give you a longer life?

Cultural differences in diet and health

Is a Mediterranean diet better for us?

Diet, disease and development

Studying how diet affects health costs a lot and takes a long time

Epigenetic effects

Our parents’ diets can influence our health

What’s inside your fat cells?

Inside the world of white, brown and beige fat

Building a baby: maternal diet

How can a mother’s diet determine her child’s future health?

Video: Building a baby (part 1)

Watch or download our video, which explores the link between a mother’s diet and her baby’s health

Video: Building a baby (part 2)

Follow Jennifer as she concludes her journey to find the recipe for a healthy pregnancy

Diet and disease images

Take a look at different nutrients and foodstuffs and discover some of the diseases that can occur if your diet is lacking in certain vitamins

Nutrition in low- and middle-income countries images

These images highlight some of the problems in nutrition and food production faced by people living in low- and middle-income countries

Feast or famine?

Eating animals: a meaty problem?

Can we establish new directions for food policy based on sustainable development?

Food miles: what’s fair?

Consider this food policy issue from different perspectives

Food for thought

Do ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria exist?

Separate food fibs from food facts

Do we need to take vitamins?

A well-balanced diet will usually meet the recommended daily intake for vitamins and minerals

Is there such a thing as a ‘superfood’?

The reputation of superfoods owes more to smart marketing – and magical thinking – than scientific studies

Does it matter when you eat?

Answers to this question have changed over time

Which weight-loss diets work?

Diets can work, as long as you stick to them

Is fat bad?

We all need some fat, but not too much

What’s wrong with too much caffeine?

Why do we reach for a cup of tea or coffee when we are tired? Find out how caffeine works and why consuming too much can be bad for you

Should we be aiming for five a day?

We’re all encouraged to eat a diet packed full of fresh fruit and vegetables, but what’s the evidence that this is good for us?

Is eating salt bad?

What’s the reality of the amount of salt we eat and the effects it has on our health?

Should all people over 55 be given statins?

What are the pros and cons of giving all over-55s these drugs?

Historical aspects

Studying the stomach

A shooting accident in 1822 was the beginning of a gory but very useful series of experiments to understand how the human stomach plays a part in digestion

Exploring ancient diets

Research shows that food preparation is ancient history

Killing off the calorie

When did the term ‘calorie’ fall from favour?

Video: Ye olde kitchen challenge

Watch our video about cooking ancient recipes

Historical views of the body images

These images give a taste of the different ways that the human body has been viewed over time

Anatomy

The anatomy of appetite

What actually is appetite? And why do some people become severely obese while others are able to maintain a stable weight without effort?

The anatomy of appetite: annotated image

What factors influence what we eat?

Video: Hungry for progress

Watch a video on appetite, genes and drugs

Video: Modelling the stomach

Watch a mechanical stomach being used to demonstrate how the human stomach works

Video: Testing digestion with a model stomach

See how an experiment to test the delivery of probiotics (or ‘friendly bacteria’) to the intestines could be carried out using a model stomach

Researching health and disease

Biobanks

How do researchers tease apart the interactions of lifestyle and genes in the development of common diseases?

International cohort studies

Find out about international cohort studies, which track the health of a given group of people over time. What challenges can this kind of research present?

Nutritional studies

Nutritional researchers have a tough job getting good results from studies. Why?

Genetic studies

What form do these studies take and how do they help us to pin down the role of the human genome’s 20,000 or so genes in different diseases?

Real Voices interviews

Real Voices interview: Julie Wilson

Meet a nursery assistant living with phenylketonuria

Real Voices interview: James Wannerton

Meet the man who can taste sounds

Real Voices interview: Georgine Leung

Meet Georgine, a nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation in London

Activities and lesson ideas

Lesson ideas for ‘Eating animals: a meaty problem?’

Discuss this food policy issue from ‘Big Picture: Food and Diet’ in the classroom

Lesson ideas for ‘Food miles: what’s fair?’

Discuss this policy issue in the classroom

More lesson ideas for ‘Big Picture: Food and Diet’

Here are some ideas for further activities around food and diet issues that you could do in class

Further resources and activities on food and diet

The Wellcome Trust has funded many organisations to produce activities and resources to engage and educate young people about the science of food and diet

Fast Facts

Each issue of 'Big Picture' comes with a sprinkling of Fast Facts, fascinating snippets of information on the topic covered.

Browse through all of our Fast Facts indexed by topic

Exercise, Energy and Movement

Issue 15 | January 2012

Growing bone

Exercise, Energy and Movement

***Articles reviewed and updated in August 2016***

All living things move. Whether it’s a plant growing towards the sun, bacteria swimming away from a toxin or you walking home, anything alive must move to survive. For humans though, movement is more than just survival – we move for fun, to compete and to be healthy. In this issue we look at the biological systems that keep us moving and consider some of the psychological, social and ethical aspects of exercise and sport.

Browse through the individual articles and check out our discussion questions and lesson ideas. We’ve also picked out content from other issues that we think is especially relevant. This issue was first published in 2012; in 2016, all of the individual resources were reviewed and updated for accuracy and currency. Please do note, however, that the PDFs of the original 2012 issue, infographic and poster have not been updated.

Made to move

From four legs to two

Why did humans evolve to be bipedal?

Adjusting to life on two legs

What changed when we began to walk on two legs?

Out of this world

Long-term low gravity can seriously affect the human body

Walk like a man

What steps are involved in walking?

Moving figures infographic

A numerical look at exercise, energy and movement

Muscles and movement

Types of muscle

Our bodies contain three main types of muscle

A closer look at skeletal muscles: muscle fibres

Skeletal muscles are made up of two groups of muscle fibres, adapted for different functions

How do muscles contract?

What causes muscle contractions?

Wasting away

Why diet, injury or a lack of use can all affect your muscles

Involuntary movement

Why do we sometimes move without meaning to?

Making muscles

How to build muscle

Exercise and the heart

The heart is a muscle, which can grow with exercise

Feeling sore

Why might exercise leave us sore?

Animation: Sliding filament theory

Watch or download our animation showing muscle contraction and the sliding filament theory

Muscles and tendons images

We’ve chosen these images to put muscles and tendons under the microscope

Bones and the skeleton

Bare bones

A look at what our skeletons do

Video: Bone biomechanics

Watch or download our video of biomechanics expert Dr Sandra Shefelbine as she uses elaborate models and her own body to explain arm movement

Factors affecting bone strength

How can our diet and exercise regimes affect the strength of our bones?

Thinning bones

Age, diet and exercise can contribute to thinning bones

Breaking bones

Even healthy bones can break if exposed to great enough forces

Bones and the skeleton images

Browse our gallery of bones and skeletons to get closer to what’s inside all of us

Breathing

Learn to breathe

A look at how breathing is controlled

Take a deep breath

How do we measure how much oxygen we can use?

Step in time

Why feeling the rhythm can help you keep running

Something to say?

Is our move to two legs linked to our ability to speak?

Lungs, heart and respiration images

Our lungs, our heart and the rest of our respiratory and circulatory systems are vital for getting oxygen into and around our bodies

Respiration and energy

Cellular respiration poster

Download a copy of our poster on respiration

Mitochondria

Explore the structure and function of our intracellular energy factories

Glycolysis

Take a look at the opening stages of cellular respiration

Aerobic respiration

A closer look at the reactions following glycolysis, should oxygen be available

Anaerobic respiration

The processes of anaerobic respiration differ between animals and plants

Energy is money

This illustrated analogy uses money to show how bodies store different forms of energy

Fit in mind and body?

Everything in moderation?

What do we need to do to be healthy?

Wearing out

Is the future of bone and cartilage replacement to grow your own?

Under strain

Why extreme exercise can be harmful

Psychology in sport

How your thinking can affect performance

Mental health and exercise

How exercise can change our mental state

Location, location, location

Does it matter where you exercise?

Fitness tests

This video by Tom Warrender of Classroom Medics examines body fat and VO2 max tests

Ethical questions

Performance-enhancing drugs

Explore current and future scenarios around controlled substances in sport

Prosthetics

Exploring current and future scenarios around artificial body parts in sport

Physiological limits

Can we predict an ultimate limit to human performance?

Diet in sport

Exploring a current and future scenario around diet in sport

The placebo in performance

A look at the placebo effect in performance

Fitness fads

A look at different exercises that have become the latest craze in keeping us healthy

Video: Exercise mythbusting

How much should we exercise? Why do muscles get sore? Are fitness drinks worth it? Find out the answers to these questions and more in this short video

Real Voices interviews

Real Voices interview: Dr Jennifer Morgan

Meet Jennifer, a cell biologist at University College London

Real Voices interview: Ellie Simmonds

An interview with Ellie Simmonds – Paralympic swimmer and five-time gold medallist

Real Voices interview: Mark Bawden

Meet Mark, a sports psychologist who has worked with the England cricket team

Activities and lesson ideas

Further resources and activities on exercise

The Wellcome Trust has funded many organisations to produce activities and resources to engage and educate young people about the science of exercise

Fast Facts

Each issue of 'Big Picture' comes with a sprinkling of Fast Facts, fascinating snippets of information on the topic covered.

Browse through all of our Fast Facts indexed by topic

Evolution

Issue 5 | January 2007

Illustration showing skeletons of apes and man

Evolution

***Articles reviewed and updated December 2014***

“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,” wrote biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky in 1973. Today, the general principles of Darwinian evolution have been widely accepted by many, but some remain sceptical. This issue, published at the height of the intelligent design debate, seeks not to explain why evolution is ‘true’ (indeed, many other publications do that), but rather explain the concept of evolution and explore why, despite the evidence, not everyone believes it.

Browse through the individual articles and check out our activities and lesson ideas. This issue was first published in 2007; in 2014, all of the individual resources were reviewed and updated for accuracy and currency. Please do note, however, that the PDF of the original 2007 issue has not been updated.

The big idea

The origins of modern evolutionary thinking

“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”

How Darwin changed the world

Charles Darwin put forward a theory of evolution by natural selection – but he was not the only person to come up with such an idea

The evidence for evolution: in images

Darwin brought together many lines of evidence to support his theory. Since his time, other studies have added to the weight of evidence for evolution

Caught in a drift

A random process of drift can also change the genetic make-up of a species

Cultural evolution

Genes aren’t the only way information can be passed on

Mechanisms of evolution

The discovery of genes provided a mechanism for heredity and a way to explain how natural selection operated

Rock stars: the fossil record comes to life

Fossils allow us a glimpse of the past

Extinction events

Occasionally the Earth experiences mass extinctions, where catastrophic environmental change wipes out huge numbers of living things

In the beginning...

Creation myths are common throughout human culture

One big family

Meet your (distant) cousin

All humans are related to one another – and to all other living organisms

Tree of life

Living things fall into three major divisions: Bacteria, Archaea and Eukarya

Convergent evolution

Evolution usually works by diversification, but sometimes a similar solution is reached by different routes

Building family trees

DNA sequence analysis is now used to build family trees

Whose gene is it anyway?

Genes are widely shared but adapt to take on new roles in different organisms

Taxing taxonomy

Taxonomy provides a way of characterising living things and documenting family relationships

Are humans different?

Are we different from the rest of the natural world?

Close cousins

Chimpanzees are our closest relatives, and genome sequence comparisons are beginning to identify the key genes that distinguish us from them

Evolution in action

Speciation

Darwin called his book ‘On the Origin of Species’, but what exactly does the origin of species mean?

Are humans still evolving?

Are we still subject to natural selection?

Pathogen evolution

Organisms that cause disease illustrate the power of evolution

Seeing evolution

It is possible to see evolution in action – often because of human interventions

Creating variation

Evolutionary change by natural selection (or genetic drift) requires variation in DNA. Where does this variation come from?

Letters begin

Is DNA (or RNA) sequence the only way information can be encoded and passed on from generation to generation? The short answer is no

We all stand together

In symbiotic relationships organisms do not evolve independently but evolve as a pair – or even as a group

Directed evolution

For thousands of years humans have tried to harness the best of nature by modifying crops, animals and even decorative plants or flowers

Cancer: the selfish cell?

The emergence of cancers in the body is a form of natural selection

Micro- or macro-

Genetic changes create variation. But do they really create new species?

Unanswered questions

Design flaws

Our bodies are far from perfect – and evolution is to blame

Origins of life

This article, first published in our ‘Evolution’ issue, asks: how did life on Earth get going?

Did the designer do it?

Some people find the idea that natural processes alone created complex life too far-fetched

Brains and behaviour

Can evolutionary ideas explain human behaviour?

Balancing selection

Natural selection should weed out alleles with a harmful effect from the gene pool. So why do some still hang around?

Social impact

In Darwin’s day

Charles Darwin may be the name associated with evolution, but he was not alone in his radical thinking

Social Darwinism

Natural selection operates in a biological context. Others have applied it to the way people and society behave – often with disastrous consequences

One for all, all for one?

If natural selection favours survival of the fittest, and genes are selfish, why do we ever help one another?

Post-human world

What does evolution have in store next for Homo sapiens?

Memes

Passing cultural information from person to person

Applying evolution

If you enjoy studying evolution, there are many career fields you could consider going into

Evidence and belief

Darwin today

Nowadays, the theory of evolution satisfies most academics, although they argue over the finer details. The public is less convinced...

But it’s only a theory

The theory of evolution shows how science operates

Science in the real world

Science is logical and objective – mostly. But let’s get real…

Science and religion

Is conflict between science and religion inevitable?

A lot like us

Humans tend to see things from a human perspective. Does this distort our view of the world?

The power of prayer

Do religious beliefs provide a selective advantage?

The evidence for evolution: in images

Darwin brought together many lines of evidence to support his theory. Since his time, other studies have added to the weight of evidence for evolution

Historical aspects

The growing human family

The human genome contains traces of two ancient relatives – Neanderthals and Denisovans

In Darwin’s day

Charles Darwin may be the name associated with evolution, but he was not alone in his radical thinking

Social Darwinism

Natural selection operates in a biological context. Others have applied it to the way people and society behave – often with disastrous consequences

The origins of modern evolutionary thinking

“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”

Disease

The evolution of Ebola

Could Ebola evolve and become an even greater threat to humankind?

Cancer: the selfish cell?

The emergence of cancers in the body is a form of natural selection

Balancing selection

Natural selection should weed out alleles with a harmful effect from the gene pool. So why do some still hang around?

Real Voices interviews

Real Voices interview: Bryan, Usamah and Kanwaljit

Meet three people from Buddhist, Islamic and Sikh backgrounds and read their thoughts on evolution

Real Voices interview: Michael Reiss

Meet Michael, who provides a Christian perspective

Activities and lesson ideas

Survival of the fittest: Evolution quiz

Can you distinguish a Darwinian idea from a Lamarckian one? A eukaryote from a prokaryote? Take our quiz to see just how ‘evolved’ you are in your understanding of this topic

Lesson idea: comparing natural selection, ID and creationism

How well do intelligent design, creationism and natural selection compare as scientific theories?

Further resources and activities on evolution

The Wellcome Trust has funded many other organisations to produce the following activities and resources to help engage and educate young people about evolution

Fast Facts

Each issue of 'Big Picture' comes with a sprinkling of Fast Facts, fascinating snippets of information on the topic covered.

Browse through all of our Fast Facts indexed by topic

Epidemics

Issue 6 | September 2007

HIV particles budding from a lymphocyte

Epidemics

***Articles reviewed and updated in January 2015***

One of the reasons that infections are so frightening is the speed with which they can kill. Doctors dealing with human cases of avian flu in the Far East have seen their patients worsen dramatically and die within a day. Add to that the fear of the new and unknown, and emerging infections can seem truly terrifying. This issue asks how we can stop new diseases emerging or re-emerging infections getting out of hand, and how we balance individual rights with the need to protect public health.

Browse through our articles and interviews and check out our lesson ideas to find out more. This issue was first published in 2007; in 2014, all of the individual resources were reviewed and updated for accuracy and currency. Please do note, however, that the PDF of the original 2007 issue has not been updated from its original form.

Exploring infectious disease

Fighting infections

How and why might we overcome infectious diseases?

Old and new challenges

Which organisms can cause infections?

Breaking barriers

Some pathogens stick to their favourite hosts

Humans and pathogens

The way humans live has had a huge impact on the spread of disease

A pathogen on the march

Climate change is affecting which diseases strike where

Loss of liberty

Do human rights go out of the window when a pandemic strikes?

New infections identified since 1918

A timeline of infectious diseases

Case study: Ebola

The origins of Ebola are still under discussion

Case study: Hepatitis C

A growing and under-recognised problem

Case study: Lyme disease

A little-known and under-reported problem

Case study: SARS

A success story

Case study: XDR-TB

A disaster in the making?

Controlling disease

Understanding transmission

To halt the spread of a disease, you need to know how it is transmitted

Spread the word

In infectious disease, not everyone is equal

Under control

What can we do to prevent pandemics?

The numbers game

Maths can be a key weapon in the war against infectious disease

Antimicrobial resistance

What happens when the drugs don’t work any longer?

Evolving resistance

Evolution of pathogens can be bad news

Border order

Can nations protect themselves from emerging infections?

A matter of trust

Is it ever OK to restrict personal freedoms for the greater good?

Responding to Ebola

How can medical research keep up with disease outbreaks?

Case study: XDR-TB

A disaster in the making?

Case study: Hepatitis C

A growing and under-recognised problem

Preventing disease

Community challenge

Infections can come from many sources

Herd mentality

Childhood vaccination against infectious diseases has saved countless lives. The main beneficiary, of course, is the child who gets vaccinated

Home guard

The UK faces challenges from several emerging and re-emerging infections

Weighing up the risks

How should individuals and governments respond to the possibility of new outbreaks?

Under control

What can we do to prevent pandemics?

An international issue

New diseases may emerge in developing countries – but they won’t stay there

A global watch

Pandemic control calls for international cooperation

The numbers game

Maths can be a key weapon in the war against infectious disease

Industrial relations

Love them or loathe them, pharmaceutical companies have an important role to play in disease control

Case study: Mosquito-borne diseases

Tropical mosquitoes are travelling the world

historical aspects

Death on the doorstep

The Black Death was the most severe pandemic ever recorded

New infections identified since 1918

A timeline of infectious diseases

Culture of epidemics

New diseases have inspired numerous works of fiction

Ethical questions

Industrial relations

Love them or loathe them, pharmaceutical companies have an important role to play in disease control

Weighing up the risks

How should individuals and governments respond to the possibility of new outbreaks?

Free at any cost?

To protect public health, individuals’ freedoms may be restricted

A matter of trust

Is it ever OK to restrict personal freedoms for the greater good?

Border order

Can nations protect themselves from emerging infections?

First contact

Contacting tribes can have catastrophic consequences

Outbreak!

What would happen if a new infection emerged in the UK?

Case study: XDR-TB

A disaster in the making?

Real Voices interviews

Real Voices interview: Tran Tinh Hien

Meet a clinician who looks after avian flu patients in the southern provinces of Vietnam

Real Voices interview: Patricia Folan

Meet Patricia, a lead nurse in infection control at University College London Hospital

Real Voices interview: Alison

When Alison went to a leading London hospital for an operation, she expected to be home in three weeks. But after contracting MRSA, it was a different story

Activities and lesson ideas

Further resources and activities on epidemics

The Wellcome Trust has funded other organisations to produce the following activities and resources related to epidemics

Lesson idea: ‘The Devil’s Alliance’

This issue’s activity is based around a drama, ‘The Devil’s Alliance’, which has been written by Radio 4 playwright Alastair Jessiman

Outbreak!

What would happen if a new infection emerged in the UK?

Fast Facts

Each issue of 'Big Picture' comes with a sprinkling of Fast Facts, fascinating snippets of information on the topic covered.

Browse through all of our Fast Facts indexed by topic

Drug Development

Issue 7 | January 2008

Drug Development

***Articles reviewed and updated in August 2014***

Although they provide immense benefits, drugs aren't a perfect solution: they can be expensive, they only help a proportion of patients, sometimes they harm us, and we’re not very good at taking them as we should. Join us as we investigate what part pharmaceuticals play in modern life and ask where might we go in the future.

Browse through the individual articles, check out our image gallery and consider our lesson ideas. This issue was first published in 2008; in 2014, all of the individual resources were reviewed and updated for accuracy and currency. Please do note, however, that the PDF of the original 2008 issue has not been updated from its original form.

The pharma story

Pharma is born

The emergence of the pharmaceutical industry in the 19th century revolutionised the way we access medicines

Postwar expansion

In the past 70 years, the pharmaceutical industry has become a huge global enterprise

Nature’s medicine chest

Nature has proved a lucrative source for many drugs

Fighting pain

People are always looking for new ways to treat pain

The placebo effect

Does a medicine depend only on the active ingredients within it?

Making a drug

Developing a novel drug

Drug development is a long and expensive process

Priming the pipeline

New methods are being used to speed up the time it takes to for a new drug to reach the market

The age of chance

Drug development is a rational, scientific endeavour, but many drugs have been identified by fluke

Drug delivery

It can sometimes be challenging to develop ways to administer drugs

Bioproduction

Some researchers are looking to biology to make drugs

The origins of drugs images

Drugs are discovered in many unusual places

What drugs do

Small wonder

Most drugs are small organic chemicals

A true magic bullet?

Monoclonal antibodies are being used to treat a host of different diseases

Spanners in the works

What do pharmaceuticals actually do?

Drugs of the future

The future may bring alternatives to the treatments we know today

Safe and sound

Safety first

Before being used in humans, drugs undergo rigorous safety testing

Trial and error

A disastrous phase I trial in 2006 raised questions about the safety of drug testing.

Holistic hullabaloo

Where do complementary and alternative medicines fit into modern medical practice?

Dangerous drugs

Despite the years of research and clinical trials, a drug may still turn out to have harmful side-effects

A tale of two drugs

The cases of thalidomide and Vioxx show what can happen when things go wrong

A watching brief

Monitoring of a drug’s safety continues even after it is prescribed to patients

How safe is safe?

What level of risk are we prepared to tolerate with medicines?

Drug rebels

Drug-resistant bacteria can mean that some treatments become ineffective over time

Right to risk it?

Does a terminally ill patient have the right to take potentially life-saving drugs that may not be safe?

Drugs and people

Smart pills

Drugs are now being used that can potentially make us smarter

Prevention: still better than a cure?

To what lengths should we go to prevent disease?

A cure for all ills?

Are we looking for simple answers to complex questions in the shape of a pill?

Gender trap

Will we ever have ‘his ‘n’ hers’ medicines?

Ethnic differences

Drugs that could target disease in certain ethnic groups are causing controversy

Tailoring medicines

With advances in genomics, drugs could be more effective than ever

Attitudes to drugs

We can’t seem to make up our mind about drugs

Your money or your life

Drugs for all

Have the days of drugs being available free to all finally gone?

Patently obvious

Patents: good or bad?

Drug costs

How much does it cost to develop a new medicine?

The market decides

Is pharma driven by improvements in health or by money?

Global market for drugs

Pharma is now encouraged to develop drugs for low-income countries

Alternatives to drugs

Manufactured pharmaceuticals dominate treatment, but some people are seeking alternatives

Real voices interviews

Real Voices interview: Sarah

Meet Sarah, who uses homeopathic medicine to treat her eczema

Real Voices interview: Roger

Meet Roger, a volunteer who has taken part in drugs trials

Real Voices interview: Daniel

Meet Daniel, who was denied the drug Lucentis on the NHS to treat his age-related macular degeneration

Activities and lesson ideas

Lesson idea: Pharmaceutical company simulation

All you need to help your students explore drug development

Further resources and activities on drug development

The Wellcome Trust has funded many other organisations that produce activities and resources to engage and educate young people about pharmaceuticals

Fast Facts

Each issue of 'Big Picture' comes with a sprinkling of Fast Facts, fascinating snippets of information on the topic covered.

Browse through all of our Fast Facts indexed by topic

Careers From Biology

Issue 16 | June 2012

People in careers

Careers From Biology

***Articles reviewed and updated in November 2017***

This issue of ‘Big Picture’ is a bit different from usual. We’ve scoured the UK to find people to tell us what they spend their working lives doing. We hear how biology – and the transferable skills developed through studying and doing science – plays a part in their careers today.

Whether you are a teacher looking to advise students or a student deciding which subjects to take at school or college, choosing a university course or just curious about careers that involve science, we hope you will get valuable information, inspiration and a few more ideas about the incredible – and varied – places that biology can lead.

This issue was first published in 2012; in 2017, all of its resources were reviewed to make sure their careers advice was still accurate. Interviews were not updated unless they contained erroneous information, but their essential subjects and salary guide sections have been brought up to date. Note that the PDFs of the original 2012 issue and infographic have not been updated.

Career advice

Get going!

Five top tips for career contentment

Dear Dr Career...

Meet our careers agony aunt

Video: Where could studying biology lead?

Follow Ahmed as he discusses career options with three people in very different roles

Careers infographic

Biology careers in the UK by numbers

Healthcare careers

Gavin Fergie, health visitor

Find out more about his healthcare career

Katy Cooper, assistant practitioner – radiography

Find out more about her healthcare career

James Batty, radiographer

Find out about James’s transition from the publishing industry to a healthcare career

Real Voices interview: Anaar Sajoo

Meet Anaar, as she tells Chrissie Giles about her life as a genetic counsellor

Real Voices interview: Alan Jenkins

Meet Alan, a community midwife working in London

Real Voices interview: Dr Khaldoon Ahmed

Meet Khaldoon, a psychiatrist working in London

The science of medical imaging

How do we see inside the body?

Communications careers

Jen Middleton, media officer

Find out more about her communications career

Elliot Lowndes, camera assistant

Find out more about his communications career

Imran Khan, head of Public Engagement

Read about Imran, head of Public Engagement at Wellcome

Dr Hannah Devlin, science editor

Find out more about her communications career

Scientific careers

Gift Nambela, molecular biologist

Find out more about her scientific career

Dr Ann Harvey, arthritis researcher

Find out more about her scientific career

Real Voices interview: Andrew Evered

Meet Andrew, a cytologist (a scientist who screens cells for cancer)

Real Voices interview: Dr Elizabeth Murchison

Meet Elizabeth, a cancer researcher focusing on Tasmanian devils

Real Voices interview: Georgine Leung

Meet Georgine, a nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation in London

Real Voices interview: Dr Jennifer Morgan

Meet Jennifer, a cell biologist at University College London

Real Voices interview: Spike Walker

Meet Spike, a prolific micrographer (someone who takes photos through microscopes)

Real Voices interview: Dr Adrian North

Meet Adrian, a music psychologist based in Edinburgh

Marta Tufet, international activities adviser

Find out more about her career at Wellcome

Dr Chris Connolly

How I got into the biology of bee brains

Professor Clare Williams

How I got into medical sociology

Professor Sir Mike Stratton

How I got into cancer genetics

Dr Lasana Harris, social neuroscience researcher

Find out more about his career studying processes of the brain

Dr Samson Kinyanjui

How I got into training and capacity building

Arts careers

James Peto, exhibition curator, Wellcome Collection

Find out more about his career

Anna Dumitriu, artist

“We all need to engage with bacteria”

Jen Wong, Guerilla Science

“Music festivals are an ideal place to share science”

Matt Parker, stand-up mathematician

“There’s a strong correlation between comedy and nerdiness”

Engineering careers

Dr David Noonan

How I got into medical robotics

Video: Engineering – Developing i-Snake®

Surgeons, programmers and engineers talk about how they created their robotic device

Policy and business careers

Emma Greenwood, policy manager

Read more about her policy career

Dr Yen Choo, entrepreneur

Find out more about his business career

Alyson Fox, head of Grants Management

Find out more about her career at Wellcome

Louise Fellingham, management accountant

Find out more about her career

Lewis Holden, policy adviser, UK government

Read more about working in climate change policy

Amelia Dearman, graduate trainee

Find out more about her career

Environment and food careers

Dr Hannah Rigby, environmental engineer

Find out more about her environmental career

Chris Cooke, junior brewer

Find out more about his environmental career

The science of brewing

Learn more about fermentation

The science behind the career

Video: Research – Pain killers

Watch this video featuring professors, postdoc researchers and PhD students talking about their research

Video: Baking – The art and science of bread

In this film Paul Rhodes guides us through the process of making thousands of cakes, rolls and loaves of bread every day

Video: Research – No more insulin

The excitement of scientific discovery

Video: Engineering – Developing i-Snake®

Surgeons, programmers and engineers talk about how they created their robotic device

The science of brewing

Learn more about fermentation

The science of medical imaging

How do we see inside the body?

The science of zinc fingers

Learn more about these special structures found in proteins

Activities and lesson ideas

Lesson ideas for ‘Big Picture: Careers From Biology’

Ideas for further activities you could do with your students or that you might wish to share with PSHEE teachers

Further resources and activities on biology careers

Wellcome funds or supports other organisations that provide resources and advice on biology-related careers

Fast Facts

Each issue of 'Big Picture' comes with a sprinkling of Fast Facts, fascinating snippets of information on the topic covered.

Browse through all of our Fast Facts indexed by topic

Addiction

Issue 12 | June 2010

Mobile device

Addiction

***Articles reviewed and updated in November 2015*** 

We look at the different ways in which people understand addiction, and ask why there isn’t one widely accepted definition. We explore the efforts to prevent, diagnose and treat additive behaviour, whether it’s related to substances such as alcohol, or activities such as gambling.

This issue was first published in 2010. In 2015, all of the individual resources were reviewed and updated. Please note that the PDF of the original 2010 issue has not been updated.

What is addiction?

Defining addiction

How do key health bodies define addiction?

What is addictive behaviour?

Exploring two different models for addictive behaviour

Dependency

Tackling an addiction may mean dealing with a physical dependency

Who’s vulnerable?

A person’s chances of developing an addiction depend on what they are like, and what happens to them

Runs in the family

What role do your genes play in predisposing you to becoming addicted?

Life’s a drag

What makes smoking so attractive to so many?

Addicted to mobiles?

Addiction isn’t just associated with drugs. If you have a mobile phone, do the bills shock you?

The brain and addiction

The brain’s reward system

An annotated guide to the areas of the brain involved with reward

The chemicals of the brain

Beneath every thought, dream or action lies a remarkable chemical dance

All in the mind?

A brief look at the psychological theories of addiction

Brain changing?

What does addiction do to your brain?

Looking in the brain

Imaging techniques help researchers get into the heads of people with addiction

Like a rat in a cage

Through animal research, scientists have learned a great deal about the brain circuits involved in addiction

Taking things to the extreme

One group of patients given a therapeutic drug have been part of an unintended experiment in addiction

Case studies

Addicted to mobiles?

Addiction isn’t just associated with drugs. If you have a mobile phone, do the bills shock you?

Just like a drug

Exploring how the potential harm of different drugs relates to their legal status

Legally sound?

Just because something’s legal, does that mean it’s safe?

Drug classification: should cannabis be legal?

Some countries have relaxed their laws around using cannabis. Should the UK do the same?

Online, all the time?

Some people consider compulsive use of the internet as an addiction

Double or quits?

Compulsive gambling has been studied more extensively than other non-drug addictions

How do researchers study gamblers?

Studying gamblers has plenty of potential pitfalls. Professor Mark Griffiths explains

Treatment

Psychological therapies

Many different psychological therapies are available to treat addiction

Pharmacological treatment

Chemical addictions are often treated with chemicals, as medication

Dependency

Tackling an addiction may mean dealing with a physical dependency

Should we treat?

Is it always right to offer treatment to addicts?

Picking up the tab

Health services in the UK spend large amounts dealing with the effects of smoking and excessive drinking

A high-tech solution?

Will we one day be vaccinating against drugs and alcohol?

Video: The line – Exploring addiction

Watch our video featuring an addiction therapist and Pablo ‘the drug mule dog’

Ethical questions

Drug classification: should cannabis be legal?

Some countries have relaxed their laws around using cannabis. Should the UK do the same?

Legally sound?

Just because something’s legal, does that mean it’s safe?

Brain boosters?

Cognitive enhancers, so called ‘smart drugs’, have gained popularity in recent years. But do they work?  

Just like a drug

Exploring how the potential harm of different drugs relates to their legal status

History and culture

Old habits?

A history of drink, drugs and addiction

Addiction in books, films and TV

Danny Birchall takes us through a selection of books and films – both classic and more modern – in which the theme of addiction plays a major part

Real Voices interviews

Real Voices interview: Dr Khaldoon Ahmed

Meet Khaldoon, a psychiatrist working in London

Real Voices interview: James*

Meet James, a student who has faced addiction

Real Voices interview: Catherine

Student with parents living with addiction

Video: Stuart – My gambling addiction

Stuart has a long history of addictive behaviour, particularly problem gambling. Now receiving counselling, he is attempting to turn his life around

Video: The line – Exploring addiction

Watch our video featuring an addiction therapist and Pablo ‘the drug mule dog’

Video: Beyond heroin – A story of loss and hope

Watch our video about parents dealing with their twin sons’ addiction

Activities and lesson ideas

Addiction prediction

Will addiction still be an issue in 25 years’ time? How about 100? Could there ever be such a thing as ‘harmless’ recreational drugs?

Deadliest drugs

This lesson idea uses an infographic about the number of drug deaths and media reports to spark debate and discussion

Further resources and activities on addiction

The Wellcome Trust has funded other organisations to produce the following activities and resources about addiction and related issues

Fast Facts

Each issue of 'Big Picture' comes with a sprinkling of Fast Facts, fascinating snippets of information on the topic covered.

Browse through all of our Fast Facts indexed by topic

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