Reproducibility isn’t something that can be solved without considering the bigger research picture. So as part of efforts to improve the quality of research, we’ve collected tips and resources – relevant to each stage of the research process – from across the MRC community to help. Isabel Baker reports.
Methods are us
Good science needs good methods. Good methods ensure that health research and policy are built on the best possible evidence. Using robust, bullet-proof methods that are reliable and repeatable can also improve efficiency. Efficiency is important, as it’s not just taxpayers’ money at stake; valuable samples from humans and animals can often be used only once, and time donated by volunteers is precious.
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. Read more
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 (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