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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.

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 [...]

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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. [...]

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Smartphones for healthcare research: data at our fingertips

10 Dec 2019

Anna Beukenhorst, a PhD student at the University of Manchester, was commended in this year’s Max Perutz Science Writing Award. She sets out the challenges of studying the link between the weather and arthritis symptoms – and how collecting smartphone data from patients could help them better manage their pain.

with MRC Executive Chair Professor Fiona Watt

Anna with MRC Executive Chair Professor Fiona Watt

When motorcycle legend Barry Sheene moved to Australia, it was not for another Grand Prix victory. It was for the weather. Sheene had retired from racing because of his arthritis. Like many arthritis patients he believed that the damp British weather worsened his arthritic pains. [...]

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The enemy of my enemy is my friend

19 Nov 2019

PhD student Erin Attrill, of the Living Systems Institute at the University of Exeter, is the runner-up of our 2019 Max Perutz Science Writing Award. She explains how she’s aiming to harness the power of ‘viruses that infect bacteria’ to overcome antibacterial resistance.

Erin with MRC Executive Chair Professor Fiona Watt

Erin with MRC Executive Chair Professor Fiona Watt

The year is 2050, the stench of plague fills the air and 10 million people are dying from cuts and grazes due to an enemy that cannot be seen. You would be forgiven for believing that we had entered a dystopian, parallel future, but alas not. This is the current future of mankind if we do not address the ever-growing threat: antibiotic resistance. [...]

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Getting on your nerves

16 Oct 2019

Congratulations to PhD student Akira Wiberg of the University of Oxford, the 2019 champion of our Max Perutz Science Writing Award! In his winning article, he describes how looking at our genes could help surgeons predict who is most likely to benefit from surgery for a painful condition of the hand – carpal tunnel syndrome.

Akira receiving his prize from MRC Executive Chair Professor Fiona Watt

“Does this feel sharp?”, I ask my patient, as I use my forceps to pinch the skin of her hand. She says no, so I proceed to make a 2-inch incision in her palm. I dissect through the layers of fatty tissue to expose a greyish-white structure called the transverse carpal ligament. [...]

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Mental health audio tour makes young people’s voices heard

9 Oct 2019

This month, a new audio tour has launched at the National Gallery to dispel myths surrounding mental health. Tour project lead, Dr Helen Fisher from King’s College London, tells us why she thinks that getting people thinking about mental health is so important. The tour is funded by the MRC, part of UK Research & Innovation.

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

My research work focuses on why young people develop mental health problems. A lot of the benefits from the work I do are quite far in the future – it might take 20 or 30 years for outcomes of our research to trickle through to actual practice. That’s a long time to wait to make a difference. There’s an element of frustration that it takes such a long time, while knowing that right now, out there in the world there is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health, which is preventing many young people from getting the help they need.

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