If two unknown young scientists came to the funding agencies today and said they wanted to try building wire models of molecules, would they get support? Unlikely perhaps, but in 1952, the young Crick and Watson were supported for just that and, as everyone knows, they went on to discover the secret of life: the structure of DNA.
Today, the chief executive of Britain's Medical Research Council is Sir Leszek Botysiewicz, and he tells Geoff Watts about his prorities for funding basic research. They discuss if there is a place among all the urgent needs of clinical medicine for fundamental research that may not bear practical fruit for decades. Roger Highfield, editor of New Scientist, joins the discussion.
Geoff hears an example of promising current research from Jackie Maybin from Edinburgh University, who is studying how the lining of the womb repairs itself every month and how that healing power might be applied to other injuries. She also knows how to communicate her research, having just won the MRC's Max Perutz Award for science writing.
And Geoff visits a new Life Sciences teaching museum at King's College, London where Jill Sales shows him how pickled specimens and bones can inform students.