Celebrating a century of international collaboration
Medical research benefits people worldwide, but how many of us are aware of the corresponding worldwide effort that goes into achieving research breakthroughs and translating them into benefits for patients? MRC External Communications Officer, Stacy-Ann Ashley, found out more at the MRC’s celebration of 100 years of international collaboration.
The world can sometimes feel small, and never more so than when we look at what connects people and places. Often these connections are good, but not always: ill-health affects people wherever they are, anddiseases don’t recognise country borders. Consequently, improving human health around the world requires a global approach.
At the final event in the MRC Centenary programme, we showcased some key achievements in international collaborative research to invited guests, including the heads of many research organisations from around the world, eminent scientists and parliamentarians. These collaborations between scientists in every corner of the globe have enabled us to achieve breakthroughs in genetics, virus and bacterial infection and improved public health, to name just a few. The MRC plays an important role in devising and supporting strategic international collaboration, and a key aim of Research Changes Lives 2014–2019, the MRC’s refreshed strategic plan launched yesterday at the event, is to enable researchers to form partnerships across the globe.
To help ensure that international collaboration continues in future, we ran a competition open to MRC early-career researchers which challenged them to create a poster conveying the significance of the international aspect of their research.
The winning prize was awarded to Dr Dianne Newbury, Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford, for her poster Talking Genetics with Robinson Crusoe. Dianne’s collaborating partner Dr Pia Constanza Villanueva from the University of Chile was also present at the event. Their collaboration was brought about following a 2008 University of Chile research project which investigated the high rate of communication disorders on the Robinson Crusoe Island. Dianne received £3,000 towards international travel to further her research.
The runner-up prize was awarded to Dr Amy Taylor, School of Experimental Psychology at University Bristol for her poster Investigating the causal effects of smoking.
Third places prizes were awarded jointly to Dr Scott Bowen, School of Biomedical Science at the University of Leeds, for The failing heart…and leg muscles too? Non-invasive imaging of skeletal muscle dysfunction in heart failure and Elizabeth Cook, School of Biological Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, for International partnerships, shining light on the neglected zoonoses.
MRC Chief Executive, Sir John Savill, commented: “Over the next 100 years, it will be even more important for the MRC to collaborate internationally if we’re to overcome the disease challenges that we face right across the world. International collaboration will be essential for understanding how genes and the environment interplay to cause disease. In an era when anyone can jump on a plane and travel around the world, we must have an international approach and the MRC is up for that.”