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Vaccines are vital

More than 200 years on from the discovery of the first vaccine against smallpox, Professor Peter Openshaw, Professor of Experimental Medicine at Imperial College London and President of the British Society for Immunology, says we cannot afford to be complacent about vaccines.

Professor Peter Openshaw. Image credit: Imperial College London.

As a clinician working in research, I want to improve peoples’ health. The NHS was set up to focus on treating people with disease. But how much better would it be if we could prevent people from getting sick in the first place?

This is where vaccines come in. As vaccinologists, we use our scientific knowledge to design new or improved vaccines to stimulate the immune system. This creates natural protection against infections and prevents disease.

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Working life: Dr Pauline Williams

Dr Pauline Williams leads global health research and development at GSK and recently became an MRC Council member. Here she tells us about mixing science with business, and the satisfaction of making a life-saving gel from an antiseptic mouthwash.

Dr Pauline Williams, Senior VP and Head of Global Health Research and Development at GlaxoSmithKline and MRC Council member

Dr Pauline Williams, GlaxoSmithKline. Image credit: GlaxoSmithKline

Career in brief:

  • Medicine degree, University of Cardiff
  • Clinical Pharmacology physician, Glaxo Phase I Unit
  • Head of Academic Discovery Performance Unit, GSK
  • Senior Vice President and Head of Global Health R&D, GSK

It was the rigour and excitement of early drug development that tempted me away from medicine. I did a stint at a Phase I Clinical Pharmacology Unit after my medical training – and following that I was enticed by an offer to join Glaxo (now GSK) where I’ve worked ever since. My first role was a full immersion in the design, conduct and reporting of experimental medicine studies which has stood me in good stead throughout my career.

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Raising the research quality bar

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.

Improving research quality

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.

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