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Insight blog: Posts tagged with Science communication

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

Introducing patients to animal research

21 Oct 2013

Laboratory mouse (Image credit: Wikipedia/Rama)

Laboratory mouse (Image credit: Wikipedia/Rama)

Researchers work with animals to make discoveries about disease and develop treatments, but how much do patients know about animal research? Here Julian Walker from Genetic Alliance UK describes a project putting patients and carers face to face with animal research, and reports on their reactions.

There is a voice that’s often missing when we talk about research using animals. While those for and against such research debate the ethics and practicalities, the people animal research aims to help — patients — are rarely heard from.

That’s something we want to change, and why we teamed up with Understanding Animal Research and six UK universities to give 25 members of families affected by genetic conditions an insight into the role of animals in building knowledge and improving treatments for their own conditions. We did this by running ‘discovery days’ at local universities. [...]

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Why sugary nerves aren’t so sweet

16 Oct 2013

Oliver receives his certificate from David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science

Oliver receives his certificate from David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science

Why does excess sugar in the bloodstream cause nerve damage in diabetes? In his article commended for the 2013 Max Perutz Science Writing Award, Oliver Freeman, a PhD student at the University of Manchester, tells us how he’s trying to find out.

Strewn across my desk are big sheets of A3 paper. Like sprawling cobwebs, lines criss-cross all over them, splattered with a traffic light system. These are diagrams showing the pathways of metabolism. Built up over decades, they describe what happens to chemicals in your cells, and how cells make energy from them.

The traffic light system is for me. It tells me which chemicals go down (red), which do not change (yellow) and which go up (green). I am interested in diabetes, and more specifically the impact that it has on energy generation in the nervous system. The colours denote the differences between diabetic nerves and healthy nerves. [...]

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Molecular Fordism: manufacturing a monster

9 Oct 2013

Ben receives his certificate from David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science

Ben receives his certificate from David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science

Viruses are produced on an assembly line just like cars and laptops, and Ben Bleasdale is looking to throw a spanner in the works, as he explains in his article commended for the 2013 Max Perutz Science Writing Award.

Look at your phone on the desk next to you, perhaps the laptop you’re reading this on, maybe a car passing outside the window or a plane overhead. All these machines were made on a production line. Each one representing a list of components, assembled in a precise order to create a series of replicas — each machine becoming greater than the sum of its parts.

Viruses are molecular machines, likewise assembled from a list of parts pieced together in a specific order. Humans weren’t the first to recognise the potential of a production line to rapidly manufacture their Model T motorcars, Nature arrived at the solution first. [...]

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Science and Story: creative engagement at the Francis Crick Institute

22 Aug 2013

A snapshot from one of the books

A snapshot from one of the books (Image copyright: The Crick Institute)

Building work on the Francis Crick Institute in central London is continuing apace, but how much do local residents know about the institute and the huge building which will be their new neighbour? Here Lex Mannion, the Crick Institute’s Public Engagement Manager, explains a recent project getting families involved in telling the story of the institute.

We recently celebrated the success of our most recent community outreach project, Science and Story. Between March and June this year, we worked with more than 60 children and their families from Somers Town in Camden, alongside a children’s writer and three illustrators, to create a series of comic books to tell stories about the new institute.

With the construction of the Crick having progressed so much recently, we wanted to ensure that local children fully understood what this big new building in their neighbourhood is actually going to do. We realised that all of our publications were aimed at an adult audience, and that we had no literature or information for younger people. That’s when we came up with the idea of creating comic books for local children and their families (and we’ve since found that they have a much wider appeal!). [...]

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Writing women: a Wikipedia edit-a-thon

1 Aug 2013

Last week, the MRC National Institute for Medical Research hosted the first of our Wikipedia edit-a-thons aiming to raise the profile of women in science. More than 20 editors took part, creating and improving the Wikipedia articles for female scientists from the pioneering geneticist Florence Margaret Durham to modern-day researchers such as Uta Frith. Watch the audio slideshow below for a flavour of the event.

(Photos courtesy of Katie Chan (Wikimedia UK) and the MRC National Institute for Medical Research. Image credit for Uta Frith: Anne-Katrin Purkiss, Wellcome Images.) [...]

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MRC Centenary Open Week

5 Jul 2013

MRC Open Week (20-29 June 2013) was an opportunity for scientists to open their lab doors or get out into the community to share their science with the public. From stand up comedy to sketching, they came up with some inventive ways of doing this. Here we round-up the week’s social media.

 

MRC Open Week (20-29 June 2013) was an opportunity for scientists to open their lab doors or get out into the community to share their science with the public. From stand up comedy to sketching, they came up with some inventive ways of doing this. Here we round-up the week’s social media.

http://storify.com/the_MRC/mrc-centenary-open-week [...]

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Watching worms

3 Jul 2013

Andre Brown, a researcher at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, needs your help with watching thousands of hours of videos of nematode worms. Here he tells you what his research into the genetics of the worm’s nervous system will gain from you turning citizen scientist and getting involved in Worm Watch Lab

I remember when it first struck me. It was a normal day a couple of years ago and I was going about my business in the lab. I’d just finished recording some videos of crawling nematode worms and was looking forward to seeing what I’d captured.

But I ran into a problem: we’d already recorded so many videos that my portable hard drive was full, so I couldn’t transfer the day’s batch to my laptop for viewing. We were recording videos from eight microscopes at the same time so they were adding up quickly. That was when I knew we needed help. [...]

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In pictures: the MRC Centenary Festival

25 Jun 2013

Last weekend we kicked off our Centenary Open Week with a festival at London’s Science Museum. Scientists from 10 MRC-funded units and centres took part in ‘Life: A healthy game of chance and choice’, an activity taking visitors through MRC research related to healthy lives. Here’s Stacy-Ann Ashley with a photo round-up.

(Image copyright: Science Museum/Jennie Hills) [...]

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What do you want from the MRC blog?

21 Jun 2013

(Image credit: Flickr/Sharon Drummond)

(Image credit: Flickr/Sharon Drummond)

Yesterday, the MRC turned 100. Today is the slightly less significant one-year anniversary of the launch of our blog MRC Insight. We’ve had great fun blogging about the MRC, its research and researchers in the past year, but now we want to know what you, the readers, want from the blog in the future.

We started blogging because we wanted to reveal a side of the MRC that people don’t usually see: something different from the logo, the grant application form or our annual report. We wanted to show you who we fund, introduce MRC staff, look at some of the issues facing medical research today and delve into our rich history, an aspect that’s particularly important in our Centenary year.

We’ve been working towards many of these aims. We’ve had researchers blog about how they intend to use MRC funds to further a particular research area, how they feel about our open access policy, and why they wanted the Olympic Games to be over. MRC staff have blogged about overseas trips and MRC events. We’ve covered animal research, a trip to Everest, and what the ‘father of epidemiology’ John Snow might think about the field today. We’ve profiled researchers, pondered what’s going on in photos from our past, and had guest posts from David Willetts and Vince Cable. [...]

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Drum roll, please …

12 Jun 2013

Birthdays call for parties, so last week the Cheltenham Science Festival threw us an (early) 100th birthday bash, complete with cake, balloons and … the results of our Centenary poll on medical advances.

As Science Museum Executive and former Editor of New Scientist Roger Highfield tweeted later in the day, there’s something slightly surreal about singing Happy Birthday to a research funding body in the company of Jim Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. [...]

Continue reading: Drum roll, please …