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Insight blog: Posts tagged with Science policy

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

What do funders want, and why?

21 Jul 2017

Julia Mueller, an MRC-funded PhD student at the University of Manchester, reflects on how a three-month Policy Internship with the MRC has changed her appreciation of Researchfish and the work done by research funding bodies.

Julia MuellerBefore I began my three-month internship at the MRC, my idea of the role of research funders was pretty simple. They have the money. We (the researchers) must get the money from them. The end.  Actually working in the head office of one of the main funding bodies of medical research gave me a slightly more nuanced insight. [...]

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Global action on antimicrobial resistance

17 Nov 2016

Last year a UK-China research collaboration took an unexpected turn following the discovery of resistance to the ‘last resort’ antibiotic: colistin. Here Professor Timothy Walsh, Professor of Medical Microbiology at Cardiff University, describes how the global community can learn from the positive steps taken by the Chinese Government.

Board game with path on the cityAntibiotic resistance is really all about people and society. We often blame antimicrobial resistance on the bug and how resistance can travel from one bug to another. But different sectors, for example farming, hospitals and communities, are all critically linked. [...]

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How do you solve a problem like reproducibility?

27 Oct 2016

Today the MRC and a group of partner organisations issued an update on what we have been doing to address of reproducibility and reliability of research since the publication of the report of our symposium on the issue last year. Dr Frances Rawle, our Head of Corporate Governance and Policy, talks about what we’ve done so far.

arrows heading in the same direction

Dr Frances RawleReproducibility is everyone’s problem. If we can’t ensure that our results are reliable, then our research can’t improve human health.

Everyone involved in biomedical research, including funders, individual researchers, research institutes, universities, publishers and academies – must play a part in improving research practices.

We’ve worked across the sector to discover the main causes of irreproducible results and what we can do to improve the situation. [...]

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Explaining inequalities in women’s heart disease risk

13 Oct 2016

Research published in BMC Medicine, based on the Million Women Study, reports women with lower levels of education and living in more deprived areas of the UK are at higher risk of coronary heart disease due to differences in behaviour. Here, study co-author Dr Sarah Floud discusses what these findings mean in the context of addressing social and health inequalities.

heart-1222517_1920-620x342-2Heart disease is a leading cause of death worldwide for men and women. Many observational studies show that individuals with lower socio-economic status have a higher risk of heart disease than those with higher socio-economic status. [...]

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A reflection on health inequalities

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.

Slow progress

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. [...]

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From labs to legislation

1 Sep 2016

Elly Tyler, a PhD student from Queen Mary University of London, has taken a break from her research to learn about the world of science policy, as an intern at the Academy of Medical Sciences. If you’re an MRC-funded PhD student and you’d like to do the same, the next round of applications opens 12 September 2016.

Doorplate of the Academy of Medical Sciences

Photo credit: Academy of Medical Sciences

What do you think of when you hear the words ‘science policy’?

As a PhD student in my PhD bubble, I’d always thought that science policy was relatively straightforward. You identify a topic – like the use of animals in research – do some research, write a report, and then send it to government. Job done – influence made. But, what I didn’t really get was …how? How do you identify the topics to shine your spotlight on? How do you get government to listen? How are changes in policy made? [...]

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Talking patient data with parliamentarians

12 Jul 2016

Today we’ll be joining a number of other organisations in Parliament to demonstrate how patient data is revolutionising healthcare at an event hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Medical Research. Grace Gottlieb, who’ll be there, explains what the session is all about.

WestminsterIt’s hard to overestimate the benefits of studies using patient data – they have allowed us to spot disease trends in populations, understand the causes of disease and learn how to treat patients.

In 2005 we worked with a number of other organisations to set up the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Medical Research (APPG) to provide a forum for parliamentarians to discuss medical research. So today, scientists, research participants and representatives like me from the MRC and other research funders are venturing into Westminster to talk to parliamentarians about how vital patient data is to research. [...]

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Dementia: care today, cure tomorrow

3 May 2016

Charity partners Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK will be instrumental in involving people living with dementia in the work of the new £250m MRC-led UK Dementia Research Institute. Here Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador Keith Oliver shares his hopes for how the new institute will make life better for people with dementia, now and tomorrow.

Keith Oliver in his garden

Photo copyright: Alzheimer’s Society

My world changed in 2010 when I was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 55. My early symptoms were falling over, an element of reduced concentration and being unable to follow things as well as I did previously.

I went to the GP thinking I’d got an ear infection and was sent for an MRI scan. When I had an appointment with a neurologist to discuss the scan he said, totally out of the blue, that it looked like the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. After attending a memory clinic for around four months of quite intensive testing and assessments I received a diagnosis. [...]

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No ball games! And other things that might be making kids less active

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.

running boy crosses the finish line

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. [...]

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Measuring vaccine impact through surveillance

7 Mar 2016

For the first time, after eight years of collaborative work, results are published in Lancet Infectious Disease describing the positive impact of the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines in a low-income country. But how do you go about measuring this ‘impact’? Principal Investigator of the Pneumococcal Surveillance Project at MRC Unit, The Gambia, Dr Grant Mackenzie, explains the human resource required for large-scale disease surveillance in rural Africa, the challenges and the rewards.

The study team

The study team

Pneumococcal disease is caused by a bacterium known as Streptococcus pneumoniae. Symptoms range from sinus and ear infections to pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and meningitis. The pneumococcus bacteria cause more deaths in children worldwide than any other single microorganism and those in low-income countries are particularly at risk.

MRC Unit, The Gambia has conducted pneumococcal research for over two decades. It started with a disease burden study in 1989, in the Basse area in the rural east of The Gambia, which established the substantial burden of invasive pneumococcal disease. [...]

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