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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.

Celebrating 100 years

18 Sep 2012

Cartoon of Henry Dale, Almroth Wright and Harriette Chick from a book that will accompany the MRC centenary installation (Copyright: Lindsay McBirnie, commissioned by the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre)

Cartoon of Henry Dale, Almroth Wright and Harriette Chick from a book that will accompany the MRC centenary installation (Copyright: Lindsay McBirnie, commissioned by the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre*)

It’s not often that you get to celebrate a 100th birthday, but the MRC will be doing just that in 2013. MRC Regional Communications Manager Jude Eades gives us the lowdown on the activities and events that we’ll be running in 2013 to showcase the work of the MRC.

Next year we’ll be celebrating a hundred years of life-changing discoveries and taking time to reflect on our achievements in medical research, acknowledging those who have supported us along the way and looking forward to what medical research will deliver in the future.

Throughout 2013 we’ll be running a series events to showcase our research successes and collaborations. You can experience life in a working laboratory, take part in experiments online, explore how past MRC discoveries have changed the way we live today, and most importantly, meet the scientists who make it all happen. There’ll certainly be something for everyone – here’s a taster of what’s in store. [...]

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Wallpaper, wax and paper DNA: the tools of a mini scientist

7 Aug 2012

Mini Scientists at the Edinburgh Science Festival

Mini Scientists at the Edinburgh Science Festival

MRC Regional Communications Manager Hazel Lambert reveals a little of what goes into preparing research for curious ‘mini scientists’, just one of the activities in which MRC researchers share their expertise with thousands of people at UK science festivals every year.

Edinburgh and Glasgow are flooded with rain so wellies are essential for walking in Scotland’s cities today. I leave mine at reception in the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit where I’ve come to meet researchers who’ve been developing a game they call Health and the City. I’m looking for new ideas for Mini Scientists, the MRC lab at the Edinburgh International Science Festival where MRC-funded researchers help kids aged seven and over explore stem cells, DNA and even cell-signalling with the help of play-doh and cuddly brain cells.

PhD student Gillian Fergie shows me a tower block and tenement she has improvised out of wooden blocks and laminated paper to represent Glasgow’s housing. Using a blank roll of wallpaper liner as our city backdrop, and interlocking sections of toy road, cars and trees, we think about how we can share public health research with festival-goers. [...]

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Life-saving data

20 Jul 2012

The APPG on Medical Research Summer Reception (Copyright: Wellcome Images)

(Copyright: Wellcome Images)

Last week, the MRC took part in the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Medical Research Summer Reception in the House of Commons. The focus of the event was unlocking the potential of data for medical research. So just how does data save lives? MRC Public Affairs Officer Louise Wren explains.

NHS patient records are a globally unique resource for research. Accessing this information safely and securely helps scientists to see disease patterns at a population level, look at the safety of drugs over long periods of time and uncover clues to predict who will develop a disease in the future. The aim of last week’s APPG event was to give MPs and peers more information about this type of research, and enable them to meet some of the scientists working in the area. [...]

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Science reading

18 Jul 2012

Max Perutz Award logoThe MRC Max Perutz Science Writing Award for early-career researchers is now in its 15th year. As we announce the shortlist for the 2012 competition, one shortlister reflects on the process.

A few weeks ago, I briefly swapped my job as a science writer to become a science reader, reading all 119 entries for the Max Perutz Award, which this year asked the entrants to answer the question ‘Why does my research matter?

For 10 days I carried a bundle of articles around with me, delving into them on park benches, at my desk, over coffee and on the bus.

Some entrants, those that have made it on to the shortlist that we’re announcing today, made their research leap off the page, combining arguments about the necessity of their research with lively prose and a great use of imagery. As my buses trundled through London, I imagined proteins whizzing around cells, viruses coursing around bodies, the tragic slide of minds and bodies into disease. Some people focused solely on their research, while others brought themselves into the stories, describing their thoughts and feelings about their work. [...]

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Exciting times for open access

16 Jul 2012

Research papers (credit: flickr/quinn.anya)

Research papers (Credit: flickr/quinn.anya)

Open access publishing has barely left the headlines in the past few months. Today our umbrella body, Research Councils UK, announces its new policy on open access. MRC Knowledge and Information Manager Geraldine Clement-Stoneham explains the policy and why it matters.

Research Councils UK has today announced its new Policy on Access to Research Outputs. Open access to scientific research results is widely perceived as an essential part of a modern society, in which the internet facilitates rapid exchange of ideas. Open access publishing can help accelerate the process of scientific discovery, inform citizens and create economic growth.

The research councils have supported the wide diffusion of research results for many years, so why does this latest announcement matter? [...]

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Dropping in on African research leaders

4 Jul 2012

John Gyapong and colleagues

John Gyapong (left in patterned shirt) and colleagues in Ghana

The MRC/UK Department for International Development African Research Leaders (ARL) scheme currently supports three exceptional scientists, mentored by a UK researcher, to undertake high quality research and develop a strong research group in Africa. Samia Majid, Operations Manager for Global Infections at the MRC, was part of a team that visited all three African research leaders to see how they are getting along.

Nine months in the planning and my first trip to Africa, I thought I’d imagined every eventuality for our 10-day trip to Burkina Faso, Ghana and South Africa, the countries where the three African research leaders are based.

But when we met Professor John Gyapong at the School of Public Health at University of Ghana on a bright, blue-skied Friday morning I hadn’t envisaged he’d be sporting a traditional shirt boldly patterned with the logo of his university department. Many employers in West Africa, apparently, have cloth printed especially to promote their organisation or company. [...]

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