As we approach the end of our Centenary year we’re starting to look back at all the ways in which we marked turning 100. One of our Centenary highlights was the official opening of the new MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology building by Her Majesty the Queen. Our Chief Executive John Savill was particularly pleased to receive this feedback from a pupil at Great and Little Shelford Primary School, whose choir sang to welcome the Queen to the building. We hope she remembers “the Queen’s lovely feathery hat and missing a bit of school” for a long time to come.
The vital work of laboratory technicians is often missing from accounts of modern medical research. Medical historian Professor Tilli Tansey studied practices at the MRC’s National Institute of Medical Research to explore changing attitudes to lab technicians over the past century.
The National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) was established in Hampstead in 1919. Initially, four departments were formed: Applied Physiology; Bacteriology; Biochemistry & Pharmacology; and Statistics. Each departmental head employed a lab assistant, and negotiated directly with the MRC about their technician’s salary and conditions. However by 1920, with nine scientists and approximately 15 assistants (including technical, animal house and maintenance staff) this system became unworkable. Consequently, formal pay and pension scales for all staff were created and a limited number of higher ‘A’ technical grades. Read more
As The Cochrane Collaboration celebrates its 20th Anniversary, Isabel Baker delves into the MRC archive to look back on its pioneering namesake, Professor Archibald Leman Cochrane, and the story of this photograph, taken during his ambitious project to X-ray the entire population of a Welsh mining valley.
The MRC Pneumoconiosis Research Unit team at the Rock Colliery in 1953, Archie is seated far left. (Image copyright: The Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine*)
This photograph, taken at the Rock Colliery in Wales in 1953, is of the MRC Pneumoconiosis Research Unit X-raying team. The team look pretty happy considering their gruelling schedule, working long unsociable hours in a marquee and X-ray van set up at the pithead.
Between 1950 and 1953 the PRU team X-rayed all of the coal miners and ex-miners in the Rhondda Fach deep coal mining valley in South Wales — no small undertaking given that the mining population of the valley was more than 6,000. Another team, from the Welsh Regional Hospital Board, X-rayed the women, children of school age, and non-mining men. Read more