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Posts from the ‘Behind the MRC scenes’ Category

Capital for tissue banks – what we want from charities

Last month we invited applications for a £5-million pot of capital investment to partner with charities to establish or enhance human tissue banks and linked data. Katherine Nightingale spoke to MRC Programme Manager Dr David Crosby about the role of charities in tissue banking and what we’re looking for from charity partners.

Why do we need tissue banks?

Tissue banking is a really important area for research. If you want to understand the mechanisms of human disease and identify appropriate targets for new treatments, then tissue from patients with a particular disease is a fantastic resource. You can study the disease processes in cellular form, screen therapies, develop diagnostics and validate what you’ve learned from other research such as animal studies.

A rack of tissue samples

A rack of tissue samples (Image: UCL)

What’s the purpose of this investment?

Tissue banking isn’t cheap and it’s logistically complex. We’re making a one-off investment to fund tissue bank infrastructure. This includes the people, equipment and facilities required to collect, characterise, curate and store the tissue and its associated data, and make it accessible to the research community.

The awards will concentrate on areas of existing strength either in tissue banking or in important lines of research that can benefit from tissue banking.

Applicants will need to describe how a proposed tissue bank will catalyse new science through new tissue banking and data linkage approaches. Read more

How do you solve a problem like reproducibility?

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.

arrows heading in the same direction

Dr Frances RawleReproducibility 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. Read more

A new informatics institute: who, what, why?

We’ve just launched our search for a Director to run our new UK Institute for Health and Biomedical Informatics Research. Rhoswyn Walker, our Head of Informatics Research, tells us about the new institute.
Graphic representing different types of data

Let’s start at the beginning… What is informatics?

There are many definitions but broadly, informatics is the use of maths, statistics and computer science to get answers from large, complex datasets. Datasets in health and biomedical research come from lots of different sources so the institute will work with biological, clinical, social and environmental data. Researchers will also use emerging forms of data like that from wearable technology. Read more