Every year, the MRC organises a one-day symposium for its fellows, which is also attended by MRC panel members and staff. In addition to networking opportunities, a number of very informative sessions are organised such as those on “Grant Writing”, “Establishing Successful Partnerships and Collaborations”, “Board and Panels – How do they Work?” or “Mentoring”. This year the symposium took place two days ago at the BMA House in London.
A recurrent topic in these meetings has been the progress on the Crick Institute. Jim Smith, research director for the Crick Institute, explained how they plan to appoint a number of early career scientists and provide them with group leader funding for 12 years. The latter is the limit of tenure of these positions, which is three years longer than similar schemes (EMBL) to facilitate a balance between career and family commitments.
As it has been the case in previous years, Professor Sir John Savill, chief executive of the MRC, closed the symposium. He highlighted computational biology as one of the areas that need to be more strongly supported in the future. When last year he made a similar comment on bioinformatics, I asked him how the MRC was planning to intensify its already existing support. His reply highlighted the work that is done at EBI and how further funding research at this type of institutions was one route to strengthen this area.