Celebrate 100 years of medical breakthroughs funded by you

Posted by pt91 at Jul 17, 2013 11:05 AM |
MRC Toxicology Unit at University of Leicester among institutions holding celebration events

Issued by the Medical Research Council on Thursday 20 June 2013

Over half (58 per cent) of people in the East Midlands don’t know their taxes fund medical research in the UK, according to a new YouGov survey run by the UK’s oldest research council, the Medical Research Council (MRC). The results of the online survey of 2,190 adults in the UK were announced today on the official one hundredth birthday of the MRC, which boasts 29 Nobel Prize winners and a host of medical breakthroughs, all funded by the public purse.

To celebrate 100 years of life-saving science, MRC research centres up and down the UK are opening their doors - inviting the public in or bringing their science out to local communities – to showcase the fruits of their labour. A range of different events, talks, experiments and exhibitions will be held today and over the next two weeks to tell the hidden story of health improvements funded by the taxpayer through the MRC and to introduce the remarkable scientists who make it all happen.

Out of all the regions of the UK, people in the East Midlands were the least likely to know how big a contribution they’ve made to improving our health, by funding medical research through their taxes. Only 17% of people from the East Midlands said they’ve met a medical research scientist, despite the fact that life changing science often happens right on their doorstep. In Leicester, a heartland of MRC medical research activity, only 28% of people had met a medical research scientist. When asked which disease or condition they would study if they were a medical research scientist, people from the East Midlands gave a full spectrum of issues close to their heart, with cancer and dementia being the most common.

Sir John Savill, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council, said;

“It’s important for people to know how crucial their own money has been in uncovering health improvements that have saved millions of lives. If I asked the person on the street, ‘did you know you’ve helped invent the MRI scanner and DNA fingerprinting, or helped make skin grafts work or proved the link between smoking and cancer?’ … he’d probably look blankly at me. And these discoveries are just the tip of the iceberg of what the taxpayer has funded - through the MRC - over the course of its history. On the MRC’s 100 year birthday today, I’d like everyone to celebrate their own contribution to making the UK a world leader in medical research. Long may MRC-funded research continue to have such an impact on the health and wealth of the UK and beyond.”

In Nottingham, researchers from the MRC Institute of Hearing Research will be hosting a small exhibition in the Broadmarsh shopping centre on the 21st and 22nd June and on 25th June at the Queens Medical Centre Ear, Nose and Throat department – explaining how our hearing works and the exciting research they carry out.

In Leicester, the MRC Toxicology Unit at the University of Leicester is hosting a public open day for all age ranges. There will be a ballet describing the life cycle of a cell, performed by the Northern Ballet School, a choir singing a specially composed song for the centenary, talks by current researchers ranging from dispelling the myth of vampires to decoding cancer, solving a murder in a lab, examining cells with a variety of microscopes, making a bracelet that shows the DNA sequence of a variety of animals and much, much more. For further details visit www.tox.mrc.ac.uk.

Detailed information of the range of events happening in locations across the UK is available at www.centenary.mrc.ac.uk/events/.

ENDS

For further information or to request an interview please call the MRC Press Office on 0207 395 2345 or e-mail press.office@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk

Notes to Editors

    • The Medical Research Council has been at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health. Founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis, the MRC now invests taxpayers’ money in some of the best medical research in the world across every area of health. Twenty-nine MRC-funded researchers have won Nobel prizes in a wide range of disciplines, and MRC scientists have been behind such diverse discoveries as vitamins, the structure of DNA and the link between smoking and cancer, as well as achievements such as pioneering the use of randomised controlled trials, the invention of MRI scanning, and the development of a group of antibodies used in the making of some of the most successful drugs ever developed. Today, MRC-funded scientists tackle some of the greatest health problems facing humanity in the 21st century, from the rising tide of chronic diseases associated with ageing to the threats posed by rapidly mutating micro-organisms. www.mrc.ac.uk

      The MRC Centenary Timeline chronicles 100 years of life-changing discoveries and shows how our research has had a lasting influence on healthcare and wellbeing in the UK and globally, right up to the present day. www.centenary.mrc.ac.uk

        • All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.
        • YouGov Omnibus Survey - total sample size was 2,190 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 13th-15th May 2013. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
        • YouGov City Bus Survey - Total sample size was 1,714 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 13th - 18th May 2013. The survey was carried out online.
        • East Midlands specific data from the YouGov Omnibus Survey for the MRC Centenary:
            • When asked “Do you think the following statement is true or false: UK taxpayers fund medical research in the UK” – 58% of people from the East Midlands answered “False” or “Don’t know”.
            • When asked “Have you ever met a medical research scientist”, 17% of people from the East Midlands said they had.
            • When asked – “If you were a medical research scientist which one area (e.g. medical condition, disease etc.) would you choose to do medical research in?” The most common answers in the East Midlands were cancer and dementia.
            • When asked – “Before taking this survey had you heard of the Medical Research Council (MRC)?” 43% of people in the East Midlands said they had.
            • Nottingham specific data from the YouGov Citybus Survey for the MRC Centenary:
                • Of the 105 people surveyed in Nottingham, when asked “Do you think the following statement is true or false: UK taxpayers fund medical research in the UK” - 51% of people answered “False” or “Don’t know”.
                • Of the 105 people surveyed in Nottingham, when asked “Have you ever met a medical research scientist”, 38% of people said they had.
                • Of the 105 people surveyed in Nottingham, when asked – “If you were a medical research scientist which one area (e.g. medical condition, disease etc.) would you choose to do medical research in?” The most common answers were cancer and dementia.
                • Of the 105 people surveyed in Nottingham, when asked – “Before taking this survey had you heard of the Medical Research Council (MRC)?” -  48% said they had.
                • Leicester specific data from the YouGov Citybus Survey for the MRC Centenary:
                    • Of the 75 people surveyed in Leicester, when asked “Do you think the following statement is true or false: UK taxpayers fund medical research in the UK” - 48% of people answered “False” or “Don’t know”.
                    • Of the 75 people surveyed in Leicester, when asked “Have you ever met a medical research scientist”, 28% of people said they had.
                    • Of the 75 people surveyed in Leicester, when asked – “If you were a medical research scientist which one area (e.g. medical condition, disease etc.) would you choose to do medical research in?” The most common answers were cancer and dementia.
                    • Of the 75 people surveyed in Leicester, when asked – “Before taking this survey had you heard of the Medical Research Council (MRC)?” -  54% said they had.
                    • Key MRC funded breakthroughs over its 100 year history

                      1916

                      Rickets is caused by a lack of vitamin D

                      1929

                      The importance of vitamins for growth and health

                      1933

                      Discovery of the flu virus

                      1940s

                      Development of penicillin as a drug

                      Randomised controlled trial design pioneered

                      1946

                      First ever British cohort study - following the lives and health of a group of people born in one particular week in 1946 for 66 years.

                      1953

                      Structure of DNA unravelled

                      1956

                      Smoking causes cancer proven

                      1960s

                      Skin graft breakthrough  (Nobel Prize)

                      Clinical trials of radiotherapy for cancer.

                      Clinical trials of chemotherapy for leukaemia.

                      1970s

                      Invented MRI scanners

                      Invention of monoclonal antibody production

                      1970s/1980s

                      High blood pressure causes heart disease and strokes.

                      1983

                      Link proven between asbestos and cancer.

                      1984

                      DNA fingerprinting invented

                      1991

                      Folic acid cuts risk of neural tube defects and spina bifida.

                      1995

                      Deep brain stimulation treatment for Parkinson's disease

                      2000

                      Human genome sequenced

                      2001

                      Statins cut risk of strokes and heart attacks

                      2002

                      Hib disease eradicated in The Gambia

                      2007

                      Discovery that thin people can be dangerously fat on the inside

                      2010

                      Cooling prevents brain damage in new-borns.

                        • Regional comparison. When asked the question do you think the following statement is true or false : “UK taxpayers fund medical research in the UK”  the following percentage of people answered “False” or “Don’t know”:

                          Location

                          % of people unaware UK taxpayers fund medical research

                          East Midlands

                          58%

                          South West

                          54%

                          Yorkshire and the Humber

                          55%

                          South East

                          55%

                          East of England

                          51%

                          West Midlands

                          50%

                          North West

                          50%

                          London

                          49%

                          North East

                          49%

                          Northern Ireland

                          48%

                          Wales

                          46%

                          Scotland

                          44%

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