Stories about the people, science and research of the Medical Research Council.
21 Aug 2012
Qing-Jun Meng is an MRC fellow at the University of Manchester. He told Katherine Nightingale about his research into biological clocks, their role in age-associated conditions, and how they offer a whole new way of looking at disease.
How does a Chinese flight surgeon end up researching biological clocks in Manchester? In the early 2000s, Qing-Jun Meng was advising pilots and medical officers for astronauts in China’s burgeoning space programme. Now he’s halfway through an MRC fellowship researching how changes in the body’s circadian rhythm during ageing cause disease.
The two fields aren’t actually so different, says Qing-Jun. “It sounds like discipline hopping but some of the lectures I gave to pilots were about body clocks and jet lag. That was when I first got interested in the field.”
Frustrated by the lack of opportunity to do cutting edge research, particularly that which would benefit people, Qing-Jun began applying for postdoc jobs abroad. His acceptance to work in vascular tissue engineering at Manchester Royal Infirmary was the first step; a second step just down the road to the University of Manchester landed him in biological clocks, where he’s remained ever since. [...]
Continue reading: Profile: Qing-Jun Meng
13 Jul 2012
Alex Brand (copyright: Alex Brand)
Alex Brand of the University of Aberdeen studies how a fungus called Candida albicans navigates around the body. She told Katherine Nightingale about how her interest in science was piqued down on the farm and — for her, at least — scientific life began at 40.
Some people get into science because of an inspiring teacher, others due to an insatiable curiosity to find out how the world works. Alex Brand got into science because she bought a small farm.
The farm was in Scotland, where Alex and her husband were posted with his job in the oil industry. It was the latest in a string of placements that had taken them all over the world — and Alex through a series of jobs from announcing the sports news in Indonesia to running a poster agency in Qatar.
“I’d left school with secretarial qualifications in the days when very few people went to university, but I still had a really enjoyable and varied career in lots of different fields,” says Alex.
Running a farm requires a surprising amount of science, from checking the water supply for nitrates and other pollutants to diagnosing disease in livestock. [...]
Continue reading: Profile: Alex Brand