Stories about the people, science and research of the Medical Research Council.
23 Sep 2019
What’s a datathon – and why should you care? Professor John Gallacher, the Director of Dementias Platform UK, reveals the inspiration behind their popular data-tastic events and the benefits they offer.
We started the datathon events to help equip scientists with the skills that they need to use our secure online environment, which contains health data for dementia research. In a nutshell, for three days up to 50 data scientists work together in small teams to begin tackling a research question using our data resource. [...]
Continue reading: Running datathons for dementia
11 Sep 2019
Taking ideas from bench to bedside is complicated. So, what’s the best way to progress exciting new ideas emerging in academia? Professor Simon Hollingsworth, Vice President and Global Medicine Leader at AstraZeneca, and Visiting Professor at Kings College London, chaired the advisory group of a report looking back over a decade of MRC translation funding. He shares what they found.
Professor Simon Hollingsworth. Image credit: AstraZeneca.
It’s well documented in the pharmaceutical sector that the path from discovery to clinical adoption and use of a new commercial product is long and perilous. It can take many years (sometimes more than 20 years) to bring a new product to market where it can benefit patients. [...]
Continue reading: Bridging the translation research gap
8 Aug 2019
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. [...]
Continue reading: The life of an MRC Programme Manager
17 Jul 2019
The UKRI Policy Internships Scheme gives doctoral students the opportunity to work for three months in one of a selected group of highly influential policy organisations. With applications now open for 2020, we spoke to PhD student Jonida Tafilaku from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology about her time spent at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST).
Continue reading: Taking science from the bench to policy change
10 Jul 2019
Throughout June, 25 MRC-funded researchers and support staff connected with 1,200 students across the UK, from Stranraer to Southampton. After posing hundreds of insightful questions to our scientists in the ‘I’m a Scientist MRC Festival Zone’ the students crowned Deepak Chandrasekharan, Clinical Research Training Fellow at MRC Harwell, our 2019 champion. Here he shares his competition experience.
The past four weeks has been one of the most rewarding, fulfilling and thought-provoking periods I have had in science. In research, we are very lucky to get funding for our work, often from the generosity of the public via organisations like the MRC and similar charities and governmental departments. Yet, usually, the majority of our findings are communicated not to the public, but to a limited group of colleagues at a conference or in a publication. [...]
Continue reading: Thank you from your winner – Deepak!
5 Jul 2019
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. [...]
Continue reading: Recognising the mouse as an important experimental model
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. [...]
Continue reading: MRC strategic review of mouse genetics
26 Jun 2019
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the greatest threats to human health. That’s why, today in the House of Commons, the UKRI Cross Council AMR Initiative is speaking face to face with MPs and decision makers about their ‘One Health’ approach to the problem. But what is this approach? And what does it mean for researchers? Ruth Zadoks, Professor in Molecular Epidemiology at the University of Glasgow, tells us about this important interdisciplinary area of research.
Ruth (middle, front row) with the interdisciplinary team of UK and Tanzanian investigators working to support the national action plan on AMR in Tanzania.
Ever since Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, there have been concerns about the over-reliance on antibiotics to treat diseases. Even Fleming himself cautioned against their over-use. Training as a vet in the Netherlands in the late 80s and early 90s, I was taught that a lack of indication is a contraindication – in other words, if you don’t have a specific reason to use antibiotics, then don’t use them. But veterinarians and medics didn’t necessarily practice what they preached. [...]
Continue reading: Using ‘One Health’ to tackle AMR
20 Jun 2019
Kirstin Leslie, MRC PhD student at the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at the University of Glasgow, won our 2017 Max Perutz Science Writing Award for her article “Can big data mend a broken heart?”. More recently, she was crowned the Association of British Science Writers Student Science Journalist of the Year. We caught up with Kirstin, who tells us how taking part in our competition sparked her science writing success.
Kirstin being awarded the Association of British Science Writers Student Science Journalist of the Year Award 2019. Image credit: Trevor Aston Photography
Winning the Max Perutz prize at the beginning of my PhD research ignited a passion for writing that’s been going strong ever since. I’ve written multiple articles for theGIST (The Glasgow Insight into Science and Technology – a local student science magazine) about events like Pint of Science, Glasgow Skeptics, and Glasgow Science Festival, and topics ranging from competition in academia to contraception.
Last month, the Association of British Science Writers awarded me the prize for Student Science Journalist of the Year – something I don’t think I could have achieved without that first gentle nudge toward writing about science. [...]
Continue reading: From Max P winner to award-winning journalist
12 Jun 2019
State-of-the-art technologies often come at a cost – they’re complex, expensive and inaccessible to many researchers. So, cell biologist Dr Ricardo Henriques and neuroscientist Dr Christophe Leterrier went back to basics. They’ve joined forces to create a new generation of simple but effective scientific devices – using a popular children’s building material.
‘Pumpy’ Lego microscopy setup. Image credit: MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology
Many of us played with Lego as children, becoming young inventors of houses, cars and spaceships. It’s an incredibly flexible material and can easily extend beyond building toys. The breadth of mechanical parts available, their low cost and their robustness – combined with their easily customisable motors – make Lego a prime material for building moving mechanical devices. [...]
Continue reading: Lego-powered biomedical research