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Insight blog: Posts from the "Behind the MRC scenes" Category

Stories about the people, science and research of the Medical Research Council.

The life of an MRC Programme Manager

8 Aug 2019

Martin Broadstock

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. [...]

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Recognising the mouse as an important experimental model

5 Jul 2019

Fiona Watt

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. [...]

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MRC strategic review of mouse genetics

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. [...]

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Transitioning to research independence

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.Moira Whyte

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. [...]

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Building momentum in mental health research

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. [...]

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Max Perutz Award science writing tips

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.

Read around

Kirstin Leslie

Kirstin Leslie

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.” [...]

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Superbugs vs Superheroes: Getting creative with antimicrobial resistance

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.

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). [...]

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Lessons on how to foster interdisciplinary research

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. [...]

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10 expert tips to help you respond to peer review comments

17 Jan 2018

Most of our funding opportunities offer researchers the chance to respond to comments from peer reviewers. A well-written response can reassure the board or panel you really can do what you propose to do, and increase your chances of getting funded. MRC Peer Review Programme Manager Rachel Prosser asked board and panel members for tips on how best to respond to peer review comments.

 

writing a proposal cartoon [...]

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Antibiotic resistance: how we’ll beat it together

13 Nov 2017

Bacteria resistant to drugs are stopping us from treating infectious diseases and undermining medical advances. So what can we do about it? This WHO Antibiotic Awareness Week Dr Jonathan Pearce, Head of Infections and Immunity at the MRC, explains why understanding how resistance develops and spreads is key to tackling antibiotic resistance. And how using this knowledge, we can find creative new ways of preventing and treating infections.

Enterobacteria grown on a selective agar plate.

Antibiotic resistance is now recognised as one of the most serious threats to human health, spreading across national boundaries. It arises from a complex interplay between biomedical, animal, social, cultural and environmental factors. If we are to meet this challenge, we need to take both an international and interdisciplinary approach. [...]

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