The teaching of cell biology in a School of Biological and Chemical Sciences – Part II

Summary – here I continue a previous comment on the same subject with a new twist to the story. Introducing 400 students to a major subject in biology during a full term is a significant task, especially if their education is to be at a higher level. It took me three years of guided preparation before I was asked to teach the full Cell Biology module single-handedly at Queen Mary University of London. I was then sacked because I opposed dubious management practice so someone else (sadly with fewer qualifications) was recruited and asked to perform this teaching instead. The student body protested in their evaluation forms and the newly recruited lecturer didn’t get her contract renewed. Here I summarise what followed her departure.

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King’s College London

The historical King’s College London is in trouble, or at least this is what Sir Robin Murray, FRS and Professor of Psychiatric Research (Mass Redundancies at King’s College London are destroying morale), David Colquhoun, FRS and Professor of Pharmacology (Bad financial management at Kings College London means VC Rick Trainor is firing 120 scientists) and Dorothy Bishop, Professor of Developmental Neuropsychology (No logic in King’s College job cuts) suggest, and they are not alone.

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Δύο είδη αδικίας

Κοίταξα τριγύρω.

Δύο είδη αδικίας βλέπω.

Στο ξυπόλητο παιδί των φαναριών,

Στην αξυρισιά του άστεγου που του κόλλησαν τα γένια,

Στον πνιγμό του κηνυγημένου που του λήστεψαν τη χώρα,

Στη γυναίκα που τη λύγισαν πριν χειραφετηθεί,

Υπάρχει το πρόσωπο, η στόχευση, το συμφέρον του καπιταλιστή.

Υπάρχει όμως και το στρίψιμο της ματιάς του γείτονα με το σκυμμένο κεφάλι.

Η γνώση, πανάκριβη και μοναχή, όταν δεν τη βάζουμε στων παιδιών τα θρανία και στων γονιών τα βιβλία.

Πάμε πάλι από την αρχή. Τι θα πούμε στα παιδιά μας ότι είναι το σωστό. Και πώς το αποφασίσαμε εμείς;

Briefing on the state of affairs in the UK academy

When a country needs a Council for the Defence of its Universities, something has gone wrong.”What is happening in your university? Help us record the rot”, CDBU asks. Various responses are being published on the creeping Stalinisation (sic) by the cadre of managers who perceive themselves as a new kind of officer class that is strangling the proper function of UK universities.

Rick Trainor receives an annual remuneration of £321,000. He should be asked to return every single pound he has received from this institution for the damage he is inflicting upon Kings College and its students. Voltaire once wrote “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize”. Martin Parker of the University of Leicester recently found out what he meantThomas Docherty, Sarah Sayce, John Allen are also learning.

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Three abridged passages from publications I share with John F. Allen

John Allen is a close scientific collaborator, a monster of knowledge (excuse the literal translation from the Greek τέρας γνώσεως) who has honoured me with his friendship. If ever a colleague is missing, this wasn’t the case in the department I joined in 2007. But then things changed. First, when the best brain in our department was sent to live on benefits, against the signatures of most of his academic colleagues and despite a number of very senior external colleagues stepping in his defense. At the time, John and I published our first joint letter:

Firing excellence. Is this the wrong way forward? Fanis Missirlis and John F. Allen – 30 June 2009 in “Statements concerning the research achievements, qualities and potential of Dr Robin Maytum”.

The decision to dismiss Robin Maytum has been a mistake. In a few words, we will discuss some of the misconceptions that seem to have led to this decision. Embedded in this discussion is our view of the School’s research strategy. The key proposition is that we must foster a friendly and collaborative scientific environment, built on mutual trust. We shall then produce world-class contributions, and attract the best people from all over the world for collaboration. We are in the unique position of having a collegial merge of talented biologists and chemists that encompasses a very broad research scope, working in a beautiful campus in a vibrant city.

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Ideological reflections from Greek politics in the 2014 Elections for the European Parliament

In a post written in the Greek language, I asked readers what they would be voting in the upcoming elections, trying to summarise the 43 choices of parties or coalitions between parties that are participating from my country. Greece is often referred to as the birthplace of democracy and – if the number of parties is any indicator – seems to be in an intense period of soul-searching. No doubt the economic crisis is being reflected here. I pointed out that job insecurity or enhanced mobility (two expressions of a similar process) is now infecting the political world. It is important to note the irony of a workforce being continuously moved around despite – in so many areas of the economy – the jobs it serves remaining still.

With the above as a brief introduction, I present here two tables for a wider audience who may wish to ‘read’ into the Greek participation in the process. The first one – in English – is the summary of my analysis. Therefore there is a subjective component in grouping together the 43 parties into 13 categories that may be more recognisable – based on their ideology, which trascends our culture. I think my message on twitter with the results from local elections shows such categorisation is useful – see

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