Stories about the people, science and research of the Medical Research Council.
3 Oct 2016
Last week the Academy of Medical Sciences published a report, ‘Improving the health of the public in 2040’. Dr Vittal Katikireddi is an NHS Research Scotland Senior Clinical Research Fellow in the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit and was a member of the working group. He explains how a healthier society can only be achieved by making society fairer – and why the solution goes beyond anything medicine can do on its own.
Despite advances in medical technologies treatments and public health measures, we’ve made no progress in addressing health inequalities in the UK. For example, a boy born today in one of the most deprived areas of Glasgow can expect to live around 15 years less than someone born in one of the richest parts of the city. [...]
Continue reading: A reflection on health inequalities
30 Mar 2016
As part of the Neighbourhoods and Communities programme at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit led by Professor Anne Ellaway, Dr Paul McCrorie and PhD student Felicity Hayball are looking at how the local environment may determine levels of physical activity in children. They spoke to Sylvie Kruiniger about their research.
Copyright: MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow
In the UK, increasingly sedentary lifestyles are being shown to impact upon more than just weight. Creating good habits around physical activity from a young age could help people to stay healthy throughout life. So what gets children outside and moving? What do they like to see? What puts them off? Dr Paul McCrorie and Felicity Hayball are using different methods to find out more about how children respond to their built, natural and social environments. [...]
Continue reading: No ball games! And other things that might be making kids less active
24 Sep 2013
Sally at the MRC Medical Sociology Unit in the early 1990s
Scientific discoveries don’t improve human health by themselves — we must understand their social significance, says Sally Macintyre as she prepares to leave her post as Director of the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit.
In a few weeks I’m stepping down as director of the MRC CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit after 30 years. Although I’m looking forward to handing over the directorship (five five-yearly reviews from MRC Head Office is quite enough), I look back with great affection on the MRC. The MRC has supported me in one way or another since 1970, when it funded my Masters course in “Sociology as applied to medicine”.
People are often surprised to hear that as a sociologist, I’ve been funded by the MRC for so long. They think the MRC only funds laboratory-based biomedical science — as exemplified by the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology — and clinical trials.
But the organisation has had a long-term interest in how social factors affect health and illness. [...]
Continue reading: Keeping social sciences in the MRC family
6 Feb 2013
Lindsay Hogg, a science communicator turned public health researcher at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit (SPHSU) in Glasgow, is out to give people the means to assess health evidence for themselves. Katherine Nightingale talked to Lindsay about developing a toolkit to do this, and what it’s like to cross the divide into research.
We’ve all seen the newspaper headlines. “Banish high blood pressure with beetroot”, or “People who eat cheese never get diabetes”. These might be fanciful examples, but they reflect an important issue — how are people supposed to tell whether what newspapers say about health is accurate?
One way might be to look at the original research paper for themselves. But knowing what to look for once you’ve got it in your hands is another matter. This is where Lindsay Hogg’s toolkit will come in.
“More and more patients and the public are doing their own research about health. People are reading stories in newspapers, they’re looking online and they’re accessing primary research material, particularly people with a health condition who are looking for ways to manage it,” she says. [...]
Continue reading: Lindsay Hogg: Giving power to patients
7 Aug 2012
Mini Scientists at the Edinburgh Science Festival
MRC Regional Communications Manager Hazel Lambert reveals a little of what goes into preparing research for curious ‘mini scientists’, just one of the activities in which MRC researchers share their expertise with thousands of people at UK science festivals every year.
Edinburgh and Glasgow are flooded with rain so wellies are essential for walking in Scotland’s cities today. I leave mine at reception in the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit where I’ve come to meet researchers who’ve been developing a game they call Health and the City. I’m looking for new ideas for Mini Scientists, the MRC lab at the Edinburgh International Science Festival where MRC-funded researchers help kids aged seven and over explore stem cells, DNA and even cell-signalling with the help of play-doh and cuddly brain cells.
PhD student Gillian Fergie shows me a tower block and tenement she has improvised out of wooden blocks and laminated paper to represent Glasgow’s housing. Using a blank roll of wallpaper liner as our city backdrop, and interlocking sections of toy road, cars and trees, we think about how we can share public health research with festival-goers. [...]
Continue reading: Wallpaper, wax and paper DNA: the tools of a mini scientist