Dr Lori Passmore is head of the Mechanisms of Macromolecular Machines group in the Structural Studies Division at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB). She showed Isabel Baker around her shiny new office where she approaches biological questions using structural biology methods.
These coasters were made by a friend of mine who does glass fusing. She’s put some actual electron microscopy (EM) grids, which we use to image proteins, inside the glass. Each grid is 3mm in diameter, made of a disc of metal such as copper or gold, often with a layer of carbon on top. To use these grids in the lab, we pipette a few microlitres of protein in solution on top and remove the excess solution, leaving a thin layer containing the protein. For cryo-EM – where we freeze the samples at liquid nitrogen temperature to preserve them in the vacuum of the microscope – the carbon has holes in it. When you freeze the grid, the protein molecules are trapped in ice suspended across the holes. We then image the protein, in the suspension of ice across the grid. Read more
Forming the front line of research operations, fieldworkers carry out a vital role in the work of the MRC’s unit in The Gambia. Ashwin Mehta, from the MRC resilience team, supports training in the field and explains how the work carried out by fieldworkers is fundamental to saving lives and improving health.
MRC research operations in The Gambia consist of fieldwork in communities and clinical work in hospitals and clinics, which generates samples and data to be used in laboratory research.
As well as interacting with communities to promote the MRC mission and getting consent from communities to conduct medical research, fieldworkers are responsible for a wide range of activities from disseminating health information to collecting data and samples from people in local communities.
The MRC Unit in The Gambia currently employs more than 300 fieldworkers across three main sites in Fajara, Keneba and Basse. Fieldworkers are recruited from the local population with the equivalent of secondary-school education, and trained up on the job. Mafuji Dibba, Fieldworker Training Manager, has been working in the field for 30 years and has worked at all three sites: “Fieldworkers’ experience as they progress gives them a good idea of disease prevention and treatment. This allows them to serve as advisors in their communities. Read more
Ian Deary and his standing desk
Ian Deary is Professor of Differential Psychology at the University of Edinburgh and Director of the Lifelong Health and Wellbeing-funded Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology. He showed Hazel Lambert around his huge office where airy windows framed by wood-panelled walls overlook George Square gardens.
I’d always liked standing to read if I was thinking about something, sometimes walking up and down. So I thought, why not get a standing desk? It can go up and down. It was a bit of a surprise, because once I got it I didn’t put it back down again; I do all my writing and work and reading at this standing desk and I find it very refreshing to be able to do that. I have four computer screens, making a single large one. I’ve always wanted a ‘desktop’ to be a desktop. If you have a proper desk you spread things around on it. It seemed limiting to have one little screen and to have everything piled on top of it. With four screens you can spread things around. But I think probably the best object in the whole room, are the three large windows; it’s a lovely outlook. Read more