04 oktober 2012
British Scientist Driven To Find 'Spark Of Life'
Beluister het interview hier.
npr.org - One night in 1984, British scientist Frances Ashcroft was studying electricity in the body and discovered the protein that causes neonatal diabetes. She says she felt so "over the moon" that she couldn't sleep.
By the next morning, she says, she thought it was a mistake.
But luckily, that feeling was wrong, and Ashcroft's revelation led to a medical breakthrough decades later, which now enables people born with diabetes to take pills instead of injecting insulin.
"I don't think people realize the excitement of being a true discoverer," Ashcroft tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "There are no new places to discover on this Earth, but there are many, many new ideas to discover — new things to find out about the way the world works."
Ashcroft says she grew up wanting to be a farmer's wife but later became fascinated with studying electrical impulses in the body. Her new book The Spark of Life details how electricity drives everything we think, feel or do through ion channels that are found in the membranes of each of our cells.
"Your ability to hear me now is because there are cells in your ears that are converting sound waves into an electrical signal, which is what the brain can interpret as sound," Ashcroft says.
Ashcroft is a professor at Oxford University and the winner of the L'oreal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science. She is now working on trying to see a particular protein at atomic resolution and on understanding why people become overweight.
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