After nearly eight years at the helm of the MRC as Chief Executive, Professor Sir John Savill steps down at the end of March, just before UK Research and Innovation comes into being on 1 April. Here he reflects on how he’s translated his priorities into research investments which will strengthen the UK research ecosystem for the future.
At the end of this week I will have completed an eventful seven and a half years as CEO of the MRC. Thanks to wonderful support from across the MRC’s extended family, much has been achieved for medical research.
From blood and saliva to tumours and teeth, donated human tissue samples take a variety of forms. But why would anyone be interested in storing these samples? And what do they do with them? Dr Emma Lawrence, Project and Engagement Manager at the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) Tissue Directory and Coordination Centre, describes the biobank sample journey, from patients to scientific discoveries.
Dr Emma Lawrence
Human tissue samples can be taken for a number of reasons. But most frequently they are used for diagnosing disease. Often, the entire sample is not needed for this purpose and patients can be asked if they want to donate the tissue for medical research.
Today, the UK Biobank has launched the largest body scanning project in the world. Funded by the MRC, Wellcome Trust and British Heart Foundation, the biobank will scan 100,000 people to provide images of their brains, hearts, bones, carotid arteries and abdominal fat. Head of the Division of Brain Sciences at Imperial College London Professor Paul Matthews is one of the academic experts who have been supporting UK Biobank to create this resource and he tells us how it could prove invaluable to all areas of medicine.
Building the bank
Over 10 years, the UK Biobank has recruited and gathered a wealth of high quality information from 500,000 people across the country. These people have donated blood, urine and saliva samples, provided detailed health, lifestyle and environment information and agreed to allow the biobank to follow their GP and hospital records throughout life.
Now we will be adding sophisticated imaging to enrich our understanding of the origins and progression of the major diseases of later life. Read more