Stories about the people, science and research of the Medical Research Council.
23 May 2018
With this year’s flu season over, most of us can breathe a sigh of relief. But taming a virus as notorious and unpredictable as influenza requires year-round research efforts. Carmen Chai looks back at how far we’ve come since the deadly 1918 outbreak of Spanish Flu, and what lies ahead.
Virus particles of the H3N2 subtype of influenza, known as the Hong Kong Flu virus.
Image credit: CDC/Science Photo Library
It’s been labelled as one of the greatest pandemics in history. 100 years ago, the 1918 influenza virus, more commonly known as the Spanish Flu, brought the international medical community to its knees. [...]
Continue reading: Outfoxing the flu
29 Jun 2017
What exactly is gene editing? Why is it important in medical research? Last year, developmental biologist Dr Kathy Niakan got the first ever licence to carry out gene editing in very early human embryos using a new technique called CRISPR-Cas9. She explains all.
Tell us about your research and what you’re trying to find out?
Our lab, at The Francis Crick Institute in London, is really interested in understanding how human embryos develop during the first seven days of development.
We all start off as a fertilised egg, which then divides to form two cells, then four cells, eight cells and so on until it forms a structure called a blastocyst at around day six. At some point around the eight cell stage we think that some of these cells are being set aside. These few cells divide to produce about 20 clumps of cells which go on to become the embryo, while the vast majority of the other cells will be set aside to form the placenta and yolk sac.
What fascinates us is, how does this happen? From this group of cells which all had an equal chance of becoming either an embryo or placenta and yolk sac, how are these cells set aside? They’ve all inherited the same DNA blueprint, it’s just that they are reading that DNA differently. So we want to know what is the key gene that ‘flips the switch’ and decides their fate? [...]
Continue reading: Secrets of our first seven days
24 Mar 2017
For World TB Day 2017 Sarah Harrop looks back at 104 years of MRC-funded tuberculosis (TB) research, a history that unites scientists, industry, policy-makers and patients with a shared goal of ending TB. [...]
Continue reading: MRC tuberculosis timeline
20 Dec 2016
For our final post in the ‘To the Crick’ series, we hear from Luiz Pedro Carvalho. He’s moving from the site of what was the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) in Mill Hill to the new Francis Crick Institute building in King’s Cross. We find out about Luiz’s work, focused on tuberculosis (TB), and look back at over 100 years of MRC-funded TB research.
Open-plan lab spaces inside the Crick
“It’s a mixture of excitement and already missing the place,” says Luiz. Mill Hill was home to NIMR for most of its lifetime but activities there have nearly come to an end. The venerable institute is now part of the Francis Crick Institute. [...]
Continue reading: To the Crick! Part 5: 100 years of tuberculosis research and 70,000 years of evolution
1 Jul 2016
Today, Professor Tim Bliss will be awarded The Brain Prize alongside Graham Collingridge and Richard Morris. Bliss worked at the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) from 1967 to 2015 and is now a visiting worker at The Crick. Archivist Emma Anthony found this photo of the young Bliss in the NIMR records and Sylvie Kruiniger finds out more.
The work on ‘long term potentiation’ (LTP) by Bliss, Collingridge and Morris has demonstrated how our brains change as we build memories. Bliss and Terje Lømo were the first to detail how LTP worked back in 1973 when they published the results of their studies conducted in anaesthetised rabbits. [...]
Continue reading: To the Crick! Part four: Think long and hard
19 Feb 2016
The National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) in Mill Hill became part of the Francis Crick Institute in 2015 and this year it will move to its new home in King’s Cross. In the first of a series of blogs about the history of NIMR, project archivist Emma Anthony talks to Sylvie Kruiniger about the preservation of NIMR records.
Hundreds of researchers, engineers, technicians, support staff and librarians are moving across London. In preparation, Emma Anthony is going through the extensive records of NIMR to determine which have historical value.
The three homes of a national medical research institute: Hampstead, Mill Hill and The Crick.
This isn’t the first time that the century-old, publicly-funded medical research institute has moved home. The institute moved to Mill Hill in 1950, having grown significantly in size and renown. These images from the archive show its first home, in Hampstead, and an vintage snap of its current location, Mill Hill. [...]
Continue reading: To the Crick! Part one: Moving home after 100 years
22 Aug 2013
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!). [...]
Continue reading: Science and Story: creative engagement at the Francis Crick Institute