Moira Whyte (Image: Academy of Medical Sciences)
It’s that time of year when we open up applications for new members of our boards and panels. Here Professor Moira Whyte, Head of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, talks to Katherine Nightingale about her experience being a member of an MRC board ― and the benefits it can have to researchers.
What has your involvement with MRC boards been?
I’ve been a member of Population and Systems Medicine Board (PSMB) for four years and I was Deputy Chair of the panel making decisions about the MRC-NIHR Efficacy and Mechanisms Evaluation Programme for five. Both of those commitments ended this year. As well as this, I’ve been involved in other activities such as evaluating stratified medicine funding calls.
How has being a board member affected your day-to-day work?
The obvious commitment is preparing for and attending the board meetings, which are held three times a year for PSMB. There is also a preliminary stage to each meeting where you read grant applications and comment on them online as part of the triage system. Some of these will be preliminary applications for large grants that the board helps shape, and others will be more standard grant applications.
The number of applications you read can vary, but it takes about a day to do the preliminary reading and then probably another day to prepare for the board meeting. Read more
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Medical Research, which the MRC supports, brought parliamentarians and scientists together for an event in Parliament House on June 16. MRC-funded researcher Professor Ian McKeith, Professor of Old Age and Psychiatry at Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing and Health, showcased his work at the event.
Jane Bunce spoke to him about his experience of sharing his work developing the world’s first accurate diagnostic test for dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), the second most common type of dementia. His research is featured in a booklet produced for the event.
Prof Ian McKeith at the event with a representative from GE Healthcare (Image copyright: Wellcome Trust)
Why is it important to speak to parliamentarians?
It’s important to demonstrate to the people who are responsible for funding research that it makes a difference ― that it does actually have an effect on people’s lives and healthcare. It’s also to help them put a human face to the idea of medical research, as they may not have had much contact with scientists and it helps them understand what we do.
Parliamentarians are incredibly engaged with dementia at the moment, particularly due to the Prime Minister’s Challenge, so it’s an important time for the dementia research community to be making sure parliamentarians have the right information and giving feedback. We’ve been promised a doubling in research funding [Prime Minister David Cameron has said that he wants UK Government investment in dementia research to double from £66m in 2015 to £122m in 2025] so now we need to consolidate that, and make sure it goes to the right places. Read more
Chris Lerpiniere (Image copyright: Chris Lerpiniere)
We know that clinical research relies on doctors and willing patients, but what about nurses? Chris Lerpiniere is a Senior Research Nurse on the MRC-funded RUSH, ‘Research to Understand Stroke due to Haemorrhage’ project at the University of Edinburgh. Here she tells Hazel Lambert about her work, and the route she took from clinical nursing to research.
How did you become a research nurse?
My nursing experience has been within neurosciences, critical care and tissue donation for transplant. Research has always been something I have had an interest in, particularly when you see the benefits and improvement to patient care brought about by research. However my career had followed a more clinical-based route until I saw the advert for the RUSH research nurse post and realised it was an opportunity to branch out into research.
What is the RUSH study aiming to do?
There are two types of stroke: one is caused by blockages in the blood supply to the brain (ischaemic), and the other is caused by bleeding in the brain (haemorrhagic). RUSH looks at what causes haemorrhagic strokes and the best way of treating them. I work on a part of the programme called the LINCHPIN (Lothian study of INtraCerebral Haemorrhage, Pathology, Imaging and Neurological outcome). Read more