Here in the UK we have lots of long-term studies following the health of a particular group of people. These cohort studies are goldmines of information for health researchers. Here Professor Jill Pell, Director of the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at the University of Glasgow, reflects on why our new Cohort Directory will make life easier for researchers – and make the most of this valuable information.
Jill Pell (Image copyright: University of Glasgow)
Cohort studies are a fantastic resource but we’re not getting the best out of many of them at the moment. That’s why, here at the MRC, we’ve developed the Cohort Directory to increase the awareness and use of these important resources.
These population cohort studies recruit very large numbers of people from the general population and collect lots of information – using questionnaires, measurements and biological samples – about their health at that particular time. They then follow them up periodically to find out who develops health problems.
For population health scientists, like me, they are the gold standard method for determining what causes disease – the essential first step in preventing it. Read more
After years funding, overseeing and monitoring clinical trials, our Director of Corporate Affairs Dr Tony Peatfield has found himself on the other side of a trial ― as a participant. Here he reflects on how his medical care has benefited from clinical trials, and why the opportunity to sign up to one was not to be missed.
Life is full of surprises, some more welcome than others. My most recent was to find myself in A&E with a heart attack. I consider(ed) myself generally healthy – I have a good diet, drink moderately, have never smoked, and do a reasonable amount of exercise (though I admit nothing too vigorous). Indeed until now, during my 30 years working for the MRC, I had taken only one day off sick.
I had excellent treatment and care in hospital, and having to spend a lot of time on my back with tubes and wires attached to me gave me some time to reflect on what was happening to me! Read more
How often do PhD students get to meet patients with the disease they spend hours toiling away trying to combat? Probably not often enough. Here Alex Binks, an MRC-funded PhD student at the University of Glasgow, tells us about how an encounter with patients and some coloured balloons helped him step away from the lab bench and think about his research in a new way.
Alex Binks (Copyright: Alex Binks)
I didn’t quite know what to expect when I was told I had to prepare a ‘project pitch’ for the MRC patient engagement event. The task required us to communicate our research in three minutes or less to a room full of bright-eyed patients, who were genuinely interested in what we do.
This is the first year of my PhD and, maybe rather surprisingly, nothing I had been taught during my undergrad degree had forced me to think about science and research in this way. Not only did I need to think about how to make the attendees understand why I do what I do, but I needed to make it interesting too.
My research focuses on using viruses as potential anti-cancer drugs, and the ways in which they lead to cancer cell death. But how to capture that in a three-minute talk? Read more