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Insight blog

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

An ambitious programme for advancing research into multiple long-term conditions (multimorbidity)

2 Jul 2020

Research into multiple long-term conditions, or multimorbidity, is a relatively new field and funders are actively working with various stakeholders to overcome the challenges as set out in the recently published cross-funder framework. The Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF) programme “Tackling multimorbidity at scale: Understanding disease clusters, determinants and biological pathways” is jointly funded by UK Research and Innovation – Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Department of Health and Social Care, through the National Institute for Health Research. After extensive round table discussions and workshops, this initiative was launched last year with the strategic objective to improve prevention, management and treatment of multimorbidity through building the UK’s capacity for transformative research in this area.

Research - tube [...]

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COVID-19 and Mental Health

3 Jun 2020

The current COVID-19 pandemic may have far-reaching effects on our mental health. Here our Executive Chair, Professor Fiona Watt, outlines how the MRC, and the researchers it supports, are tackling these important issues.

Covid and MH post

The past few months have been challenging for all of us, and as we gradually begin to emerge from this initial lockdown phase it is clear that the social and psychological impacts of the pandemic could be with us for some time. [...]

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On the road: MRC regional meetings

6 Mar 2020

At least once a year, the MRC’s Council hits the road and heads to a different area of the UK to learn about MRC-funded research in the region. Council member Dr Roger Highfield explains the importance of MRC’s regional meetings, and shares his experience of the latest, held at the University of Manchester.

Decades ago, studies of Whitehall civil servants revealed that the lower you are in the social hierarchy, the higher your risk of illness and death. [...]

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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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Establishing a new Precision Medicine Accelerator

23 Dec 2019

Early in the new year, we’re launching a scheme to help speed up progress in translational research – and take research from the lab to the clinic faster. Here, our Clinical Director Professor Patrick Chinnery tells us more about the plans.

An independent report, published in September 2019, showed that our funding schemes for translational research – building on basic research to create new therapeutics and diagnostics – have been boosting the UK’s life sciences industry since we introduced them in 2008.

We commissioned the report to determine if these funding schemes had delivered innovation into health care and strengthened the return on investment from discovery research. We were pleased to find that the report showed the schemes had been successful. [...]

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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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Working life: epidemiologist Dr Sema Nickbakhsh

19 Dec 2019

Dr Sema Nickbakhsh is a research epidemiologist at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research. She describes the surprising relationships she’s found between flu and cold viruses, and why she enjoys looking at the bigger picture.

Sema Nickbakhsh

Image credit: University of Glasgow [...]

Career in brief:

  • BSc (Hons) in Equine Science, The University of the West of England, Bristol
  • MSc in Veterinary Epidemiology, The Royal Veterinary College / The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • PhD in Veterinary Preventive Medicine, Epidemiology and Public Health, The University of Glasgow
  • Research Assistant, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine, The University of Glasgow
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Edinburgh
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research

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New investment in mouse research to enhance national coordination and collaboration

13 Dec 2019

Following on from previous blog posts discussing our commitment to mouse-based research and our strategic review of mouse genetics, here our Executive Chair Professor Fiona Watt sets out the MRC’s plans for a national network of mouse research excellence, with the Mary Lyon Centre positioned at its heart.

Small experimental mouse is on the researcher's hand

The MRC Council recently considered the recommendations of the MRC strategic review of mouse genetics and the role of the MRC Harwell Institute, which comprises the Mammalian Genetics Unit (MGU) and the Mary Lyon Centre (MLC). The Council concluded that future investment in mouse genetics should move away from large, hypothesis-free genome-wide programmes and focus instead on more targeted programmes that are integrated with human disease modelling. [...]

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