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Insight blog

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

MRC Seminar Series: Treating brain damage after birth

6 Jan 2021

Here, Claire Mooney, Strategic Stakeholder Engagement Manager for the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the organiser of the MRC Seminar Series, writes about the November 2020 seminar and the research being done to prevent brain damage in babies caused by birth asphyxia.

The idea of cooling a baby below normal body temperature goes against all our natural instincts. However, in his efforts to prevent the consequences of severe oxygen starvation during birth (birth asphyxia), Professor David Edwards (Professor of Neonatology at MRC Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders) and his colleagues were among those who pioneered a technique that does exactly that. At the November edition of the MRC Seminar Series, he told us the fascinating story of the discovery and implementation of mild hypothermia treatment to prevent death and brain damage in babies after birth asphyxia. [...]

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MRC Seminar Series – NC3Rs: Pioneering better science

14 Dec 2020

Following our blog about the launch of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Seminar Series, Claire Mooney, Strategic Stakeholder Engagement Manager for MRC and the organiser of the series, writes about the October seminar and the projects working to improve animal welfare in research.

Picking up a lab mouse using a tube rather than by the tail causes less stress to the animal. When I heard this while attending the October instalment of the MRC Seminar series, I was struck by how potentially impactful such a simple measure could be in improving the welfare of the 2.5 million mice used annually for research in the UK. [...]

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Engaging and involving young people brings benefits to research studies

11 Dec 2020

Encouraging public and patient engagement and active involvement in research studies can have great benefits, especially in challenging areas. Here, Kate Sturgeon, Senior Research Nurse in the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL, writes about how the Adolescents and Adults Living with Perinatal HIV (AALPHI) study did exactly this with young people living with HIV and its outcome.

The AALPHI study is one of only three cohort studies worldwide evaluating the impact of HIV on young people living with perinatal HIV (PHIV) that includes young people affected by HIV. [...]

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Introducing the MRC Investigators

8 Dec 2020

In this blog, Professor Fiona Watt, Executive Chair of the Medical Research Council (MRC), writes about the new title of “MRC Investigator” and its significance for Programme Leaders and Programme Leader Track Researchers.

I am delighted to share with you that we have recently bestowed the new title of “MRC Investigator” on Programme Leaders (PL) and Programme Leader Track (PLT) researchers at our Units and Intramural Institutes. These individuals are world-class scientists who are either strong leaders in their field already (PLs) or are making great strides towards that goal (PLTs). To support these researchers in advancing medical research, MRC provides core funding to the Intramural Institutes and University Units where they carry out their work. [...]

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MRC Seminar Series Launch: “Tracking the COVID-19 pandemic in real time”

3 Dec 2020

In September, we launched the Medical Research Council (MRC) Seminar Series, which takes place on the third Thursday of the month, to showcase health-related research from MRC investments and collaboration. Here, Claire Mooney, Strategic Stakeholder Engagement Manager for MRC and the organiser of the series, writes about what she took away from the inaugural event.

Over the last few months, we have all become very accustomed to looking at and interpreting graphs related to tracking the COVID-19 pandemic. [...]

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‘The longest week ever’: the story behind the latest COVID-19 vaccine success

26 Nov 2020

The new vaccine, ChAdOx-1 nCoV19, developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca has generated international headlines this week. This breakthrough was the result of both long and short-term funding support, from UK Research and Innovation councils with the Medical Research Council at the heart. Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology at the Jenner Institute and lead scientist on the vaccine project, describes what the journey has been like so far.

Professor Sarah Gilbert. Credit: John Cairns

The story behind this week’s successful trial results started back in January when we first heard reports of a new respiratory disease emerging in China. [...]

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Reflecting on the MRC Millennium Medal 2020 Nominations

25 Nov 2020

For the first time, the MRC Millennium Medal 2020 successfully opened for nominations to recognise outstanding MRC-funded researchers that demonstrate scientific excellence and impact across the research environment. Here, Dr Glenn Wells, Director of Strategy and Planning at the Medical Research Council (MRC), reflects on the high-quality nominations received for the Medal.

We are truly delighted by the number of exceptional nominations received for this year’s MRC Millennium Medal 2020. As the new Director of Strategy and Planning at the MRC, I was particularly inspired to see the diverse ways that MRC-funded researchers make a difference to people’s lives, ranging from advancing medical research to transforming the entire research landscape. [...]

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NIHR INCLUDE: Improving inclusion of under-served groups in health research

18 Nov 2020

With support from the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN), the NIHR INCLUDE Steering Group has produced both general and COVID-19 specific guidance to help make health research more inclusive. Eleanor Anderson, NIHR CRN Project Coordinator, tells us more.

Image Credit: Laura Broderick, Graphic and Creative Facilitator, Think Big Picture

​The INCLUDE project was commissioned in 2017 to explore how to improve the inclusion of under-served groups in clinical research. A steering group was formed, consisting of national leaders in health research across many specialisms, including: ageing, critical care medicine, genetics, academia, patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE), research design and delivery. [...]

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Covid vaccines – Why we need more than one iron in the fire

18 Nov 2020

As reports of new COVID-19 vaccines offer us “hope in a vial”, MRC Executive Chair Fiona Watt explains why it’s so important to have multiple vaccines in the pipeline.

Many of us have breathed a huge sigh of relief following the recent, long-awaited news of two vaccines for COVID-19. Although the results are still preliminary, both the Pfizer and BioNtTech vaccine and the US company Moderna’s vaccine announced earlier this week look to be really effective – 90% and 95% respectively – in protecting people from the virus. [...]

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National Mouse Genetics Network

29 Oct 2020

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is investing more than £20m in a major new network in mouse genetics for disease modelling to accelerate our understanding of human disease and improve diagnosis and treatments. Here, Professor Owen Sansom, Director of the National Mouse Genetics Network, writes about his vision for the new network, the exciting opportunity for the UK, and plans to engage with the community.

Image Credit: MRC Toxicology Unit [...]

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