News

Insight blog

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

GDPR: What researchers need to know

16 Apr 2018

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and new Data Protection Act come into force on 25 May. Both apply in the UK and will influence research involving personal data. So what’s changing and how should you, as a researcher, prepare? Sarah Dickson, Head of the MRC Regulatory Support Centre, is here to help.

What is GDPR?

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), along with the new UK Data Protection Act, will govern the processing (holding or using) of personal data in the UK.

Although the new regulations haven’t been designed specifically for research, we’ll need to make some changes to research practice. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the UK regulator. The Health Research Authority (HRA), in collaboration, is providing official guidance for people working in health and social care research. We‘re working with both organisations. [...]

Continue reading: GDPR: What researchers need to know

Nutrition research: taking a broader view

12 Apr 2018

The UK Nutrition Research Partnership for health and disease aims to take nutrition research to the next level by building up a strong research base. On the day of the first partnership meeting, Chair Professor Sir Stephen O’Rahilly, Director of the MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit at the University of Cambridge, explains why nutrition matters to you and your research area.

Image credit: University of Cambridge

The food we eat has a huge impact on our bodies. One of the key conclusions of last year’s review of nutrition and human health research in the UK was that we need to gain a deeper insight into how changes in diet affect our health.

We also need more accurate information about how we might better use nutrition to prevent and treat certain important diseases. The UK Nutrition Research Partnership is focused on strengthening the UK science base in basic and translational nutritional research. [...]

Continue reading: Nutrition research: taking a broader view

How research can give patients a voice

4 Apr 2018

Eilean MacDonald

Eilean MacDonald was diagnosed with childhood arthritis when she was only a baby. 18 years on, as well as dealing with normal teenage life and managing her condition, she’s helping MRC researchers on a stratified medicine study to pick the right treatment, first time, for future patients.   

It all started when I was 18 months old and I bumped my knee. My parents noticed that the swelling wouldn’t go down, and took me to our local hospital. They ran tests but the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong, so I was referred to the rheumatology department at Alder Hey children’s hospital, where I was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA). [...]

Continue reading: How research can give patients a voice

Medical research has a bright future

27 Mar 2018

After nearly eight years at the helm of the MRC as Chief Executive, Professor Sir John Savill steps down at the end of March, just before UK Research and Innovation comes into being on 1 April. Here he reflects on how he’s translated his priorities into research investments which will strengthen the UK research ecosystem for the future.

At the end of this week I will have completed an eventful seven and a half years as CEO of the MRC. Thanks to wonderful support from across the MRC’s extended family, much has been achieved for medical research. [...]

Continue reading: Medical research has a bright future

Pushing dementia research forward through US-UK collaboration

22 Mar 2018

For MRC grants that involve collaborations, almost half (43%) are international. We’re running a symposium in Washington D.C to encourage more of this, by joining up UK early career researchers and National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers working in neurodegeneration. But what’s the international incentive? Three researchers with MRC-NIH Partnership Awards share how they hope to benefit.

Dr Chi-Hun Kim, Dementias Platform UK, University of Oxford

Dr Chi-Hun Kim

Dr Chi-Hun Kim

The UK and US each have rich data sources for dementia research. But there aren’t any efficient UK-US data access channels which make it easier for researchers in the two countries to collaborate.

I plan to use the Dementias Platform UK (DPUK) Data Portal as a channel for more efficient and long-standing collaboration. The portal is a secure one-stop website where researchers can upload their data and analyse it for free. By using this robust MRC-funded facility, I’ll conduct a study using data from both sides of the Atlantic. I’m aiming to get a better picture of how conditions that block or reduce blood flow to the brain might affect the development of dementia.

DPUK and I have been helping South Korea make a similar facility to help with international collaboration. My experiences from the MRC-Korea collaboration will set me up well for this exciting new collaboration.  [...]

Continue reading: Pushing dementia research forward through US-UK collaboration

Lessons on how to foster interdisciplinary research

15 Mar 2018

As one of the first cross-council interdisciplinary initiatives, The Environmental and Social Ecology of Human Infectious Diseases Initiative (ESEI)* was developed to respond proactively to the global problem of potential pandemic, epidemic and emerging infectious diseases. Five years on, MRC Programme Manager Morven Roberts shares lessons learnt from the initiative about how to foster future waves of interdisciplinary research.

In the last five years, the Ebola, Zika and yellow fever outbreaks – as well as the critical challenge presented by antimicrobial resistance – have provided continued impetus for research to understand the drivers of emerging or re-emerging infections. [...]

Continue reading: Lessons on how to foster interdisciplinary research

Celebrating women in science

8 Mar 2018

By supporting schemes like Athena SWAN and the WISE campaign we’re committed to advancing women’s careers in STEM. For International Women’s Day 2018, Deborah Barber shares quotes and career insights from some of the many inspiring women in research who we’ve featured on the blog over the past year.

Professor Janet Darbyshire

Professor Janet Darbyshire

“The hospitals used to be completely full of patients with HIV/AIDS, but now things are very, very different.”

Janet is the recent recipient of our most prestigious award, the MRC Millennium Medal. Her research into clinical trials and epidemiology has prevented disease and saved lives around the world. Janet provides an insight into her successful career, from her earliest memories of medicine to the difference her research has made to people’s lives. [...]

Continue reading: Celebrating women in science

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

Working life: Dr Oluwafemi Akande

21 Feb 2018

Dr Oluwafemi Akande, a Postdoc Fellow of the Africa Research Excellence Fund, began his career in a field far removed from global health research. But by combining his knowledge of building design with his interest in public health, he’s hoping to realise his passion of improving people’s wellbeing.

Dr Oluwafemi Akande

Career in brief: [...]

  • BSc and MSc in Architecture from University of Jos, Nigeria
  • PhD in Strategic Energy Management for Retrofit and Refurbishment of UK Listed Building from Anglia Ruskin University, UK
  • Postdoc Fellow of Africa Research Excellence Fund and Visiting Academic, School of Engineering, University of Leeds, UK
  • Senior Lecturer, Department of Architecture, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Nigeria.

Continue reading: Working life: Dr Oluwafemi Akande

Taking science into school: why both sides benefit

15 Feb 2018

Colin Plumb PhD researcher at MRC CRM

Colin Plumb, PhD researcher at MRC-CRM

Science fascinates people of all ages. But for interested young people, higher education and a career in the lab can feel like a daunting and distant prospect. Colin Plumb is a PhD researcher at the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine (CRM) at the University of Edinburgh, where an unexpected collaboration with a local school is inspiring the next generation of researchers and even refuelling his own passion for his work.

Researchers don’t always make the best teachers. We’re prone to getting caught up in small details, which can consume our thoughts and divert attention away from the bigger picture. It’s unfortunate, because the big questions in science are often the most interesting. They’re the reason many of us were seduced by science when we began studying it in school. Helping to mentor young science students at Castlebrae High School has forced me to examine why I got into science, and I think in many ways re-learn things I had forgotten. [...]

Continue reading: Taking science into school: why both sides benefit