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Insight blog: Posts from the "From the community" Category

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

Mind the academic gender gap: How COVID-19 is skewing an already uneven playing field for female academics and what we can do collectively to respond

22 Feb 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has had negative impacts on many, including female academics and researchers. Here, Sarah Arrowsmith, Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Institute of Translational Medicine at the University of Liverpool, writes about her own struggles, as well as those of other women who are having to juggle being an academic and a parent during this pandemic.

In 2017, a recording of a Professor of South Korean politics went viral after his children famously gate-crashed his live BBC News TV interview. [...]

Continue reading: Mind the academic gender gap: How COVID-19 is skewing an already uneven playing field for female academics and what we can do collectively to respond

Engaging and involving young people brings benefits to research studies

11 Dec 2020

Encouraging public and patient engagement and active involvement in research studies can have great benefits, especially in challenging areas. Here, Kate Sturgeon, Senior Research Nurse in the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL, writes about how the Adolescents and Adults Living with Perinatal HIV (AALPHI) study did exactly this with young people living with HIV and its outcome.

The AALPHI study is one of only three cohort studies worldwide evaluating the impact of HIV on young people living with perinatal HIV (PHIV) that includes young people affected by HIV. [...]

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‘The longest week ever’: the story behind the latest COVID-19 vaccine success

26 Nov 2020

The new vaccine, ChAdOx-1 nCoV19, developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca has generated international headlines this week. This breakthrough was the result of both long and short-term funding support, from UK Research and Innovation councils with the Medical Research Council at the heart. Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology at the Jenner Institute and lead scientist on the vaccine project, describes what the journey has been like so far.

Professor Sarah Gilbert. Credit: John Cairns

The story behind this week’s successful trial results started back in January when we first heard reports of a new respiratory disease emerging in China. [...]

Continue reading: ‘The longest week ever’: the story behind the latest COVID-19 vaccine success

NIHR INCLUDE: Improving inclusion of under-served groups in health research

18 Nov 2020

With support from the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN), the NIHR INCLUDE Steering Group has produced both general and COVID-19 specific guidance to help make health research more inclusive. Eleanor Anderson, NIHR CRN Project Coordinator, tells us more.

Image Credit: Laura Broderick, Graphic and Creative Facilitator, Think Big Picture

​The INCLUDE project was commissioned in 2017 to explore how to improve the inclusion of under-served groups in clinical research. A steering group was formed, consisting of national leaders in health research across many specialisms, including: ageing, critical care medicine, genetics, academia, patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE), research design and delivery. [...]

Continue reading: NIHR INCLUDE: Improving inclusion of under-served groups in health research

The National Gallery mental health audio tour: a year on

15 Oct 2020

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, it is important that people look after their mental health. The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is ‘mental health for all’. In the light of these two things, we talk to Dr Helen Fisher, Reader in Developmental Psychopathology at King’s College London, to look back over a mental health initiative that began on World Mental Health Day last year to see what impact it has had.

Image credit: The National Gallery, London [...]

Continue reading: The National Gallery mental health audio tour: a year on

Understanding the impact of the pandemic on people with mental ill health

12 Oct 2020

Back in June, MRC Executive Chair, Professor Fiona Watt, outlined how researchers were tackling the far-reaching effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on our mental health. Here, Gordon Johnston, a peer researcher with lived experience of mental ill health, and a co-applicant on the University of York’s Optimising Wellbeing during Self-isolation (OWLS) project – a project recently funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) – describes its background, his involvement, and how it can help us understand the impact of Covid-19 on mental ill health.

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The Mary Lyon Centre: Advancing mouse genetics towards human disease

4 Sep 2020

It is over a century since scientists started exploring genetic diseases using mice and during that time, the laboratory mouse has become the mammal of choice for much of biological research. In 2019, UK laboratories alone used 2.5 million mice. Here, the Director of the Mary Lyon Centre and a mouse geneticist, Sara Wells, talks about the important work being done at the Centre for advancing mouse genetics towards human disease.

Image credit: The Mary Lyon Centre

The biological similarities between mouse and man are obvious, we have many of the same organ systems and share the majority of our genes. However, there are some stark genetic and physiological differences between us and laboratory mice which have the potential to confound disease studies. The Mary Lyon Centre, an international resource for mouse genetics situated on the Harwell Campus, Oxfordshire, is striving to close the gap between human and mouse studies and develop improved methods for preclinical research requiring the use of genetically altered mice. [...]

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Introducing NATA; the Nucleic Acid Therapy Accelerator

7 Feb 2020

We’re launching a new initiative with a mission to unlock the potential of precision genetic medicines and speed up clinical developments. Professor Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University and Champion of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, tells us more about the Nucleic Acid Therapy Accelerator.

Today, I was delighted to join the launch event for the Nucleic Acid Therapy Accelerator (NATA), hosted by Professor Fiona Watt, the Executive Chair of the Medical Research Council, with interim NATA Director Professor Matthew Wood. [...]

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Connecting students with science

13 Jan 2020

Applications are now open to find 25 MRC researchers and technical experts for the next ‘I’m a Scientist Medical Research Zone’ in March 2020. Shonna Johnston, Flow Cytometry Facility Manager at the University of Edinburgh Queen’s Medical Research Institute, shares why more technicians should give it a go.

Image credit: Shonna Johnston

Last year, I took part in the I’m a Scientist MRC Festival Zone – an online competition giving school students the chance to connect with researchers and technical experts. The students challenged competitors in fast-paced live chats, asking anything they wanted, then voted for their favourite person to win a prize of £500 towards a public engagement activity of our choice. [...]

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Celebrating ten years of the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine

23 Dec 2019

Over the past year, the University of Edinburgh MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine has been celebrating a significant milestone: 10 years as an MRC Centre. Robin Morton, the centre’s Science Communication Manager, guides us through the celebrations.

Image credit: Douglas-Robertson

Birthdays are a time of celebration, a time to reflect and to look forward to the future. When I joined the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine (CRM) in 2016, I marvelled at its successes, excellent facilities and sense of community. [...]

Continue reading: Celebrating ten years of the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine