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Genes, genes, genes

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 05 April 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:732
  1. Geoff Watts
  1. London

    George Radda, chief executive of the UK Medical Research Council, answers criticisms from a parliamentary committee that the council has failed to communicate with its scientists and concentrated too much on genetic research

    To the Medical Research Council, currently enjoying the warmth of celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of Crick and Watson's discovery of the double helix at an MRC laboratory, last week's report by the House of Commons science and technology committee must have felt like a bucket of ice cold water. Tempered only by a few nods of approval, the report is scathing about many of the MRC's practices and procedures.

    The committee, chaired by Dr Ian Gibson MP, has maintained its reputation for bluntness. It claims to have heard of “significant disquiet about the policies and performance of the MRC from individual researchers and organisations.” It accuses the council of poor financial planning and management and of introducing “misguided strategies for its research support.”

    The MPs' final conclusion is no less outspoken: “[The MRC] has been guilty of inconsistent and inadequate communication which has hampered our ability to assess [its] performance and misled its research community. Combined, these have harmed the reputation of the organisation and caused great resentment among and inconvenience to the research community it is meant to be supporting.”

    The MRC has responded to the report with what it describes as deep disappointment. “The language was a shock,” said the MRC's chief executive, George Radda. “I expected some …

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