Stories about the people, science and research of the Medical Research Council.
6 Mar 2020
At least once a year, the MRC’s Council hits the road and heads to a different area of the UK to learn about MRC-funded research in the region. Council member Dr Roger Highfield explains the importance of MRC’s regional meetings, and shares his experience of the latest, held at the University of Manchester.
Decades ago, studies of Whitehall civil servants revealed that the lower you are in the social hierarchy, the higher your risk of illness and death. [...]
Continue reading: On the road: MRC regional meetings
23 Dec 2019
Early in the new year, we’re launching a scheme to help speed up progress in translational research – and take research from the lab to the clinic faster. Here, our Clinical Director Professor Patrick Chinnery tells us more about the plans.
An independent report, published in September 2019, showed that our funding schemes for translational research – building on basic research to create new therapeutics and diagnostics – have been boosting the UK’s life sciences industry since we introduced them in 2008.
We commissioned the report to determine if these funding schemes had delivered innovation into health care and strengthened the return on investment from discovery research. We were pleased to find that the report showed the schemes had been successful. [...]
Continue reading: Establishing a new Precision Medicine Accelerator
8 Aug 2019
Dr Martin Broadstock, Programme Manager for Immunology and Vaccines, joined the MRC in early 2017 after 10 years as a postdoc. Here he gives an insight into what he enjoys about this wide-ranging role.
A front-row seat to cutting-edge science
As a Programme Manager, I’m privileged to be at the forefront of cutting-edge research. I’m no longer doing my own science, but by regularly speaking to researchers and reading through their applications, I learn about areas of research which could revolutionise medical science. I don’t miss being at the bench, as I’m exposed to more varied research ideas as a Programme Manager than when I was a postdoc focusing on a few projects. [...]
Continue reading: The life of an MRC Programme Manager
5 Jul 2019
Last week we published a statement about the reasons why we’re conducting a strategic review of mouse genetics. Here our Executive Chair Professor Fiona Watt provides some more information about the process.
The review is looking at long-term needs in mouse genetics that reflect the changing environment and the role of the MRC Harwell Institute. In September 2018 a face-to-face meeting of a panel of scientists with broad-ranging expertise considered the landscape, including written perspectives from a number of national and international leaders in mouse and human genetics. [...]
Continue reading: Recognising the mouse as an important experimental model
26 Jun 2019
As we undertake our Strategic Review of mouse genetics, our Executive Chair Professor Fiona Watt sets out the MRC position in the light of recent press activity regarding the MRC Mammalian Genetics Unit (MGU).
MRC Harwell Institute, directed by Professor Steve Brown, encompasses the Mammalian Genetics Unit and the Mary Lyon Centre. The MGU carries out academic research while the Mary Lyon Centre has world-class expertise in genetically modified mice. [...]
Continue reading: MRC strategic review of mouse genetics
21 Mar 2019
We understand that for many researchers, making the leap to independent research can be a challenging time. That’s why we’ve been working to ensure we can provide our researchers with the support they need to navigate this process. Professor Moira Whyte, Head of the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh and Chair of the MRC’s Training and Careers Group, guides us through what we can offer to help early-career researchers in the transition.
Making the move from postdoc in someone else’s group to making your mark as an independent researcher can be a tough career stage. As noted in a recent article – The life of P.I. Transitions to Independence in Academia – early-career researchers (ECRs) face numerous barriers to securing posts, staff, time and funding. This comes at a time when they are trying to make their mark scientifically and generate the outputs that will get them recognised as leaders in their field, and we’ve heard from our own fellows, from both basic scientific and clinical backgrounds, about what a critical career stage this is. [...]
Continue reading: Transitioning to research independence
27 Feb 2019
Today’s latest report from the charity MQ raises important questions about how much is spent on mental health research in the UK. So we asked Dr Jo Latimer, MRC Head of Neurosciences and Mental Health, to talk us through the funding we dedicate to this area – and why it’s a top priority for us.
Research looking across the life course, from childhood to adulthood, will help us to address gaps in our knowledge about mental health conditions. Image credit: cherylholt on Pixabay.
This year, in the UK, about a quarter of us will be affected by mental health problems that are serious enough to need treatment, support and care. At least 75% of us know someone in our friend or family circle who has experienced problems with their mental health and we’re seeing a worrying rise in the number of children and adolescents experiencing a mental health disorder. [...]
Continue reading: Building momentum in mental health research
30 May 2018
Our Max Perutz Science Writing Award is now in its 21st year. To help 2018 entrants, Isabel Harding shares science writing tips from last year’s winner and runners-up, along with comments from the judges on why their articles made the cut. This year’s competition closes on 4 July.
Kirstin Leslie, from the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at the University of Glasgow, was our 2017 winner. She recommends reading around to help with your science writing: “I feel like if you do read a lot and absorb a lot of material yourself you’ll be able to learn techniques from other writers.
“And without even releasing it I think you can gain a lot of skills through that. It’s just a really useful exercise to think about your research in a way that is relatable to people and is entertaining to people and I think it’s just a really good thing to do.” [...]
Continue reading: Max Perutz Award science writing tips
10 May 2018
Last month, our researchers channelled their creativity into a one-off UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Superheroes vs Superbugs night at the Science Museum in London. Over 1,000 people came to meet some of the superheroes taking on the fight against the global threat of antimicrobial resistance. Petra Kiviniemi reports.
Antibiotics underpin nearly every aspect of modern medicine, but ever-increasing numbers of pathogens are becoming resistant to our arsenal of drugs. So now researchers are working harder than ever to discover new ways to prevent and treat drug-resistant infections.
Scientists transported guests into the hidden world of bacteria, using virtual reality to shrink them down to the size of bacterial proteins.
The Science Museum currently plays host to Superbugs: The Fight for our lives. It’s an exhibition for anyone to visit and learn about the causes, consequences, and possible solutions for the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). [...]
Continue reading: Superbugs vs Superheroes: Getting creative with antimicrobial resistance
15 Mar 2018
As one of the first cross-council interdisciplinary initiatives, The Environmental and Social Ecology of Human Infectious Diseases Initiative (ESEI)* was developed to respond proactively to the global problem of potential pandemic, epidemic and emerging infectious diseases. Five years on, MRC Programme Manager Morven Roberts shares lessons learnt from the initiative about how to foster future waves of interdisciplinary research.
In the last five years, the Ebola, Zika and yellow fever outbreaks – as well as the critical challenge presented by antimicrobial resistance – have provided continued impetus for research to understand the drivers of emerging or re-emerging infections. [...]
Continue reading: Lessons on how to foster interdisciplinary research