Stories about the people, science and research of the Medical Research Council.
15 Aug 2018
Are you interested in coming along or taking part in next year’s MRC Festival of Medical Research? Deborah Barber explores some 2018 highlights and shares tips learnt along the way for making public engagement a success.
For the last three years we’ve kicked off our summer with the MRC Festival of Medical Research. This year, over 10 days in June, 43 events were held by MRC institutes, units and centres, and teams of MRC grant holders. [...]
Continue reading: MRC Festival: Bringing research to life
19 Jul 2018
Last month, 25 MRC-funded researchers and support staff connected with over 1,400 UK school students online, in the first ever ‘I’m a Scientist MRC Festival Zone’. Over four weeks, our plucky scientists responded to thousands of questions from students, who then voted for their favourite answers. Here our winner Liza Selley, from the MRC Toxicology Unit, tells her tale.
“If a car travels at infinite speed, what evidence can you use to prove it was there?”
There stands my favourite question from the MRC Festival’s I’m a Scientist competition. A prime example of the imagination and inquisitiveness with which children explore the world around them. Of how commonplace thoughts mix with the abstract, and how no question appears unanswerable. [...]
Continue reading: I’m a Scientist…Get me out of here!
10 May 2018
Last month, our researchers channelled their creativity into a one-off UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Superheroes vs Superbugs night at the Science Museum in London. Over 1,000 people came to meet some of the superheroes taking on the fight against the global threat of antimicrobial resistance. Petra Kiviniemi reports.
Antibiotics underpin nearly every aspect of modern medicine, but ever-increasing numbers of pathogens are becoming resistant to our arsenal of drugs. So now researchers are working harder than ever to discover new ways to prevent and treat drug-resistant infections.
Scientists transported guests into the hidden world of bacteria, using virtual reality to shrink them down to the size of bacterial proteins.
The Science Museum currently plays host to Superbugs: The Fight for our lives. It’s an exhibition for anyone to visit and learn about the causes, consequences, and possible solutions for the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). [...]
Continue reading: Superbugs vs Superheroes: Getting creative with antimicrobial resistance
26 May 2017
Nowadays few people would dispute that it’s important for people to know about medical matters, but that wasn’t always the case. While our Max Perutz Science Writing Award is open to MRC-funded PhD students, Katherine Nightingale looks back at Charles Fletcher, MRC researcher and physician, whose strong belief in medical communication led him to become the first ‘TV doctor’ in the 1950s.
You don’t notice it at first – your eye is drawn instead to the strangely bandaged faces of the people to the left of the image. But there, together with the IV stand, scissors and scrubs, is not a piece of surgical equipment but a 1950s television camera and lights.
What’s it doing there? Filming a medical drama? Broadcasting the television news live from a hospital? Not quite. Instead it’s the filming of Your Life in Their Hands, a controversial medical documentary which began in 1958. [...]
Continue reading: Behind the picture: Charles Fletcher as the first TV doctor
24 Aug 2016
Jennifer Lawson is the Trials Manager for the recently launched Deep and Frequent Phenotyping study looking to do the most in-depth research ever conducted to find out how Alzheimer’s disease develops. She is part of Professor Simon Lovestone’s Translational Neuroscience and Dementia Research group at the University of Oxford.
Career in brief
- Psychology BSc
- Worked at the Oxford Mental Health Trust as a Research Coordinator
- Part time Cognitive Neuroscience MSc whilst working full time at the Trust
- Managed the feasibility study that has led to this Deep and Frequent Phenotyping study
My career path has been slightly unusual. Like many of my peers studying psychology, I planned to become a clinical psychologist. So I went to gain experience working in Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, assisting with clinical trials and other research studies. [...]
Continue reading: Working life: Trials Manager Jen Lawson
19 Jul 2016
The places where we live, study and work shape our behaviours and health. To give members of the public a new perspective on their surroundings, MRC Epidemiology Unit researchers shared their science for the MRC Festival of Medical Research. Oliver Francis and Paul Browne tell us how they organised their event ‘Are you in a healthy place? Travel, food and our neighbourhoods’ and what made it a success.
Bikes, takeaways and conversations
When you say ‘medical research’, the first things that spring to mind probably aren’t cycling and takeaway food. But we do all know that doing a bit more of one and eating a little bit less of the other could be good for our health.
What we don’t always realise is that these health-related decisions aren’t always individual or personal and that the world around us has a huge influence on many of our choices. We also have to remember that much of the world around us is shaped by decisions made in Westminster and our local councils. [...]
Continue reading: Are you in a healthy place?
19 Jul 2016
As part of the MRC Festival of Medical Research, one group of scientists struck out from the lab and into the street to explain how our immune system works and how we might be able to make it fight cancer. Dr Martin Christlieb tells us why.
A brightly-coloured ball representing a healthy, or potentially dangerous mutant, cell. Image copyright: Peter Canning
How much does your audience care about your science? One answer to this might be ‘slightly less than you do’. We should all allow our passion to shine through when we speak to people, whatever it is. After all, attitudes are infectious. But to be infected, someone has to actually be there to hear the enthusiasm in your voice. [...]
Continue reading: ‘Smugging’ – v. To catch someone off guard and show them your science.
24 Jun 2016
Professor Ian Jones is a Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist and Director at the National Centre for Mental Health. He conducts his research at the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics. In this week’s blog he tells us about work he is doing to involve more women in research and why.
More than 1 in 10 women experience an episode of mental illness in pregnancy or following childbirth. Perinatal mental illness can be severe and have significant implications for women, their families and wider society. Suicide is a leading cause of maternal death and a recent report has estimated that the economic costs to society of the women each year who experience maternal mental illness is in excess of £8 billion. This is through the impact of illness on the women, but even more through the impact on the next generation. [...]
Continue reading: Understanding the causes of perinatal mental illness by working with those who’ve lived through it
20 Apr 2016
Conservators Rebecca Bennett and Jill Barnard tell us about their project, funded by PRISM, to conserve 150 items from the Crick Mill Hill Laboratory (previously the MRC National Institute for Medical Research, NIMR) in preparation for the move to the Francis Crick Institute. The objects will be used by the Crick for exhibition and may also be loaned to education groups with an interest in the history of biomedical research.
Polystyrene proteins: This early model of a ribosome designed by Robert Cox and built by NIMR engineer Frank Doré in 1968 was signed by some of the leading biomedical scientists of the time – including Francis Crick.
We are now 11 weeks into our ‘Tools of the Trade’ conservation project. So far we have treated 137 of 150 historical objects that tell the story of how research developed at NIMR over the course of 100 years. [...]
Continue reading: To the Crick! Part three: From polystyrene proteins to circuit board spaghetti
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