Stories about the people, science and research of the Medical Research Council.
8 Aug 2019
Dr Martin Broadstock, Programme Manager for Immunology and Vaccines, joined the MRC in early 2017 after 10 years as a postdoc. Here he gives an insight into what he enjoys about this wide-ranging role.
A front-row seat to cutting-edge science
As a Programme Manager, I’m privileged to be at the forefront of cutting-edge research. I’m no longer doing my own science, but by regularly speaking to researchers and reading through their applications, I learn about areas of research which could revolutionise medical science. I don’t miss being at the bench, as I’m exposed to more varied research ideas as a Programme Manager than when I was a postdoc focusing on a few projects. [...]
Continue reading: The life of an MRC Programme Manager
4 Oct 2017
In 2016, the then-government introduced a new approach to funding science and research targeted at urgent problems being faced by people the world over: the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), which the MRC helps to deliver. Rachael Sara-Kennedy, Head of International Partnerships at Universities UK, says we must look beyond the face value of overseas research funding to see how it benefits us all.
The GCRF enables our universities and world-class research base to access resources drawn from the government’s overseas aid budget – the Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding to help fight global challenges. The fund represents a not insignificant slice of the government’s commitment to spend 0.7% GDP on overseas aid. [...]
Continue reading: GCRF: don’t judge a book by its cover (or title)
12 Sep 2017
Watching funding decisions being made at MRC board or panel meetings is an opportunity we offer to early career researchers to learn about how the peer review process works. With transparency the theme of this year’s Peer Review Week, MRC Peer Review Programme Manager Rachel Prosser asked some recent observers to share what they learned from the experience. [...]
Continue reading: Funding decisions: insider insights
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.
Before 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. [...]
Continue reading: What do funders want, and why?
10 Apr 2017
One of the ways the MRC supports scientists in delivering world-leading research is by holding workshops where researchers can meet with our programme teams to discuss the MRC’s aims and ambitions for their area of work. As we prepare to publish our updated Strategy for Lifelong Mental Health Research, Dr Kathryn Adcock, the MRC’s Head of Neurosciences and Mental Health looks forward to the global mental health workshop coming in June.
As with so much in life, the best ideas often emerge when we come together. It’s the meeting of minds that enables those ideas to grow, and dialogue and debate that nurtures those ideas, shaping the world of tomorrow.
This is especially true for research. The MRC fervently believes that the best research often comes about when researchers collaborate, irrespective of science area and increasingly, irrespective of geographical boundary.
Social media provides a terrific virtual way to bring scientists together, whether it’s announcing new programmes and research calls on twitter, or commenting at the foot of blog posts like this one. But as helpful as the virtual world can be, there’s nothing like face-to-face interaction. [...]
Continue reading: Mental health research: working it out together
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.
Reproducibility 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. [...]
Continue reading: How do you solve a problem like reproducibility?
5 Oct 2016
We’ve been working with seven other medical funders to create a ‘funding view’ of the interactive career map. The ‘funding view’ will help you find which grant or fellowship is the right one for you. During his three-month MRC Policy Internship Andrew Eustace, PhD student at the University of Bristol, helped us test the map. Here he explains how it will help with career planning.
After months of thesis writing I begin to catch a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Like all students at this stage, I’m starting to think about what to do next. Do I pursue a career in academia, industry, or leave science altogether?
A career in scientific research can mean short-term contracts and long working hours. Despite this, you might, like me, still be inspired by scientific research and so assessing the postdoctoral job market.
Once you’ve made that choice, it is almost time to make another: what will you do after a postdoc? [...]
Continue reading: Taking the funding view to find the grant for me
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.
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. [...]
Continue reading: A reflection on health inequalities
27 Sep 2016
Dr Joanne Ng agreed to have a mock Clinical Research Training Fellowship interview filmed to give future applicants the chance to see exactly what it’s like to face the panel. The video below shows you the interview in full in the room where all MRC fellowship interviews take place. Beneath that you can see what the panel made of Joanne’s interview, and her reaction.
Continue reading: Interview day: what’s it like to face a fellowship panel?
27 Sep 2016
Chair of the MRC’s Clinical Training and Career Development Panel, Professor Moira Whyte, tells interview candidates what to expect from her panel. She explains that (although they can seem like an intimidating bunch on the day) they are actually very happy to meet you and hear about your project… so relax!
Continue reading: What the panel’s really thinking