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Working life: Stefan Neubauer

Cardiologist Professor Stefan Neubauer has invented a test for chronic liver disease which could cut diagnosis time from weeks to a single day. Here he tells us about his working life and what it’s been like to set up a company to develop his discovery.

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I’m a professor of cardiovascular medicine and, in a nutshell, my job is to develop new ways to characterise the inner workings of the heart, based on magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and spectroscopy. I’m Director of the Oxford Centre for Clinical Magnetic Resonance Research, and setting up this clinical research unit from scratch – which is now recognised worldwide – has been the highlight of my academic career. But in 2012, I also took a leap into the world of industry. Together with three colleagues I founded a spin-out company based on an important discovery we made. Read more

Science doesn’t only need sprinters

At the moment, researchers have a certain number of years after their PhD to apply for MRC fellowships, after which point they’re ineligible. But is a ticking clock the best way for scientists to flourish? Here Simone Bryan, Programme Manager for Strategic Projects here at the MRC, explains why we’re removing time-bound criteria from our fellowship applications to help give people the time they need.  

A hurdler seen through a row of hurdles

(Image: Robert Voors on Flickr under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


One of the best things about my job is getting the chance to meet so many brilliant and talented researchers who are doing jobs they love. But, for all its wonder, pursuing a research career is competitive and challenging.

In particular, moving from being a postdoc to an independent investigator in your own right is hugely challenging. It’s usually done by securing a personal fellowship which pays your salary and research costs. Read more

Behind the picture: Proving the link between BSE and vCJD

Sometimes the most unremarkable-looking images turn out to tell remarkable stories. Katherine Nightingale spoke to Dr Jon Wadsworth at the MRC Prion Unit to find out how this humble picture of proteins contains one of the most high-profile health discoveries of the 1990s.

A Western blot of various prion disease patient samples

(Image copyright: Professor John Collinge, MRC Prion Unit, UCL Institute of Neurology)


Even for those schooled in the art of the western blot, this image might not look like much. In fact, at first glance, it may seem even less remarkable to a trained eye – just another piece of film with its ladders of proteins.

In fact, this image, taken in 1996, represents the first clear evidence that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) had passed from cows to humans in the food chain to cause a type of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) never seen before. Read more