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Insight blog: Posts from the "Behind the picture" Category

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

Behind the picture: How fly eye cells get their shape

28 Feb 2018

The main goal of the Pichaud lab at the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology at University College London is to understand how fly eye cells get their shape. But why do fly eyes matter? And how can studying fruit fly eyes help us fight cancer in humans? Franck Pichaud and Rhian Walther explain all.

Image: Fruit fly photoreceptors imaged with confocal microscope. Copyright : Franck Pichaud Lab

Image: Fruit fly photoreceptors imaged with confocal microscope. Copyright : Franck Pichaud Lab [...]

Continue reading: Behind the picture: How fly eye cells get their shape

Behind the picture: Dementia research in the UK

13 Sep 2017

The MRC has joined forces with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to create this picture of the dementia research ‘landscape’ in the UK, made up of people working together for a better future for people with dementia. Catherine Moody, MRC Programme Manager for Dementias initiatives, explains what we can see.

A larger version of the picture is available on our website.

The dementias research landscape in the UK can look pretty complicated to those not directly involved in dementias research. It can even look bewildering to those who are!

But as our new picture shows, the jigsaw pieces do fit together. And without any one of the pieces, the picture isn’t complete. [...]

Continue reading: Behind the picture: Dementia research in the UK

Behind the picture: Charles Fletcher as the first TV doctor

26 May 2017

Nowadays few people would dispute that it’s important for people to know about medical matters, but that wasn’t always the case. While our Max Perutz Science Writing Award is open to MRC-funded PhD students, Katherine Nightingale looks back at Charles Fletcher, MRC researcher and physician, whose strong belief in medical communication led him to become the first ‘TV doctor’ in the 1950s.

Operation being filmed by the BBC

Operation being filmed by the BBC (Image courtesy of Lothian Health Services Archive, ref GD28/8/2/10)

 

You don’t notice it at first – your eye is drawn instead to the strangely bandaged faces of the people to the left of the image. But there, together with the IV stand, scissors and scrubs, is not a piece of surgical equipment but a 1950s television camera and lights.

What’s it doing there? Filming a medical drama? Broadcasting the television news live from a hospital? Not quite. Instead it’s the filming of Your Life in Their Hands, a controversial medical documentary which began in 1958. [...]

Continue reading: Behind the picture: Charles Fletcher as the first TV doctor

Behind the picture: Metaphors of the mind

3 Mar 2017

Frustrated by the lack of images to illustrate the mind, Dr Rhys Bevan-Jones, Clinical Research Fellow at the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics, decided to create his own. Here he describes the story behind this picture, where the worlds of psychiatry and art collide.

Illustration of representations of the mind

Copyright: Rhys Bevan-Jones

 

One of my friends once told me that he saw the mind as a senate. He described it as a place where the issues of the day are discussed by lots of little people and organised by the main debater in the middle. So that’s what I drew (see middle-right of the picture).

This gave me the idea of asking more people how they saw their mind, or different aspects of the mind. I received a variety of responses. My hairdresser, for example, sees the mind as a series of little post boxes (middle-bottom). There’s a little person who receives the messages – visual and auditory – inside the head. They post and categorise each of the messages into different post boxes, based on the emotional content. [...]

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Behind the picture: The sponge that turns cells into bone-fixing factories

22 Sep 2016

The first UK Regenerative Medicine Conference took place in London this week. Professor Fergal O’Brien, who heads the Tissue Engineering Research Group at the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, tells us about his work to help the body to fix itself.

Sponge-like scaffold made from collagen with nanoparticles inserted in. Credit: Dr Rosanne Raftery

Although our bodies have an amazing capacity to repair themselves, some damage is too big or too difficult for us to fix.

Fergal’s team have found a way to boost that capacity by developing a sponge-like implant that reprograms our cells to supercharge the healing process. [...]

Continue reading: Behind the picture: The sponge that turns cells into bone-fixing factories

Preparing to move – how cancer can use your immune system as a highway

9 Aug 2016

Dr Jacqui Shields and Dr Angela Riedel at the MRC Cancer Unit explain the science behind these brightly-coloured blobs that show us how cancer cells prepare their road ahead so they can spread around the body.

A healthy lypmh node next to a lymph node that has been damaged by signals from a cancer.

Breaking down your defences: cancer cells send signals to a healthy lymph node (left) that distort its shape and damage its function (right) making it easier for a tumour to take hold.

One of cancer’s deadliest features is its ability to move through your immune system’s ready-made network of vessels and nodes.

Often, we don’t know a cancer has spread through the immune system until it’s too late, but now we may have found something that could help us predict when that’s going to happen: our findings suggest that before cancer cells even begin to move, they emit signals which send the new area into chaos. [...]

Continue reading: Preparing to move – how cancer can use your immune system as a highway

To the Crick! Part four: Think long and hard

1 Jul 2016

Today, Professor Tim Bliss will be awarded The Brain Prize alongside Graham Collingridge and Richard Morris. Bliss worked at the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) from 1967 to 2015 and is now a visiting worker at The Crick. Archivist Emma Anthony found this photo of the young Bliss in the NIMR records and Sylvie Kruiniger finds out more.

Tim Bliss sits in his lab surrounded by equipment

The work on ‘long term potentiation’ (LTP) by Bliss, Collingridge and Morris has demonstrated how our brains change as we build memories. Bliss and Terje Lømo were the first to detail how LTP worked back in 1973 when they published the results of their studies conducted in anaesthetised rabbits. [...]

Continue reading: To the Crick! Part four: Think long and hard

Behind the picture: a tiny cell-killing drill

28 Apr 2016

This image has been created by a team at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (MRC LMB) in collaboration with the University of Exeter and Birkbeck College and, for the first time, shows a detailed structure of a ‘lysenin pore’. Dr Christos Savva, an Electron Microscopy Facility scientist at the MRC LMB spoke to Sylvie Kruiniger about why understanding these structures could be the key to treating many different diseases.

Lysenin Pore

Lysenin Pore

It may look like some kind of technicolour mushroom but this teeny structure is actually a cell-attacking pore made of just nine proteins. [...]

Continue reading: Behind the picture: a tiny cell-killing drill

Behind the picture: our gorgeous gut flora

11 Mar 2016

Who knew we had such pretty guts? Dr Nicola Fawcett, medic and researcher at the University of Oxford, produced these images in collaboration with photographer Chris Wood to show the importance of bacteria for our health and the issue of antimicrobial resistance. The botanical images are made from common bacteria taken from the gut and stamped in decorative patterns onto agar jelly before leaving them to grow overnight. The photographs are on display at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford until 14 May 2016.

These pictures and captions were originally published on the University of Oxford’s Modernising Medical Microbiology site. Copyright: Chris Wood and Nicola Fawcett, Modernising Medical Microbiology under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

We often talk about bacteria as harmful things. Images in the media, advertising, even doctors and scientists, portray a healthy, desirable world as one free of bacteria: sterile, washed and scrubbed clean.  It’s becoming increasingly clear that this isn’t true. [...]

Continue reading: Behind the picture: our gorgeous gut flora

Behind the picture: When Mr Scott met his brain

15 Jan 2016

This week Mr John Scott, a member of the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936, was able to meet his grey and his white matter in models made by the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (CCACE) and the National Museum of Scotland which are due to form part of a new gallery opening in summer 2016. Sylvie Kruiniger talks to CCACE’s Dr Simon Cox about the project.

Mr Scott holds a 3D print of his brain

(Image copyright: National Museums of Scotland)

How many people can say that they have held their own brain in their hands? In this picture, Mr Scott is doing just that. Its size, shape and folds perfectly match those housed inside his head. The 3D print of his brain’s outer surface will sit alongside a strikingly beautiful image of his white matter etched in glass at the National Museums of Scotland from summer 2016.

Mr Scott’s brain has been imaged numerous times over the past decade as part of studies of the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 (LBC1936). The team, led by Professor Ian Deary (whose office we have visited in a previous post), used different types of  MRI scan generated by the University of Edinburgh’s Brain Research Imaging Centre to generate the two objects for the museum’s collection. His white matter was mapped by a diffusion tensor MRI and, for the 3D print, his cortical surface was mapped by a standard structural scan. [...]

Continue reading: Behind the picture: When Mr Scott met his brain