As part of our commitment to work with our neighbours in and around our new White City Campus, we are excited to announce the launch of a new fund which supports community-led science and technology projects. We are offering seed funding of up to £2,000 to local residents and community groups who wish to explore and share the wonder of science with their communities. You can read more about the fund on our website. (more…)
Societal engagement at Imperial is for all members of staff and you can sign up to our exciting masterclasses now! They are a low-commitment, easy way to get familiar with engagement and kickstart your engagement activities.
Engagement activities have a whole range of benefits including:
- Gaining new perspectives
- Getting the public excited about STEM and your work
- Raising your professional profile
- Opening up new funding opportunities
The core masterclasses introduce you to what public engagement is, what it can offer you and your research and provide some pointers to start planning your own activities. There are four further masterclasses to build on your knowledge and skills in areas such as engagement with controversial issues and engagement as a pathway to research impact.
All masterclasses are just a couple of hours long. Find out more and sign up.
Posted on behalf of the Science Museum
We have now opened applications for Live Science 2018 here at the Science Museum. Live Science is an excellent opportunity for biomedical researchers to study some of the 3.4 million visitors that pass through the Museum each year. Based in the Who Am I? gallery, researchers will have access to visitors who already have a keen interest in science and a willingness to take part in real research that lets them learn a little bit more about themselves.
If you are interested, please visit our webpage to find out more information and to access the application form. The deadline for applications is 4 January 2018.
Imperial’s Societal Engagement Seed Fund 2017/2018
Applications are now open for the Societal Engagement Seed Fund, which will support staff and students to engage the wider public with Imperial’s research and education. Seed fund proposals could include a discrete project or a pilot activity to be further developed. Up to £10,000 will be awarded in December 2017. It is expected that five proposals in the region of £2,000 will be funded, but there is flexibility to accommodate larger or smaller proposals for exceptional projects. The deadline for applications is midnight on Wednesday 8 November 2017. Find out more here.
Staff are invited to attend an Advice Clinic on Wednesday 11 October at 11.00am for guidance and support on writing proposals. To register attendance, please click here. Further information on the session will be circulated closer to the date to registered participants.
This was the question posed to the participants of the 2017 Outreach Summer School, in the form of a gripping real-life crime scene investigation, organised and run by Dr Argita Zalli and Dr Luisa Garcia-Haro, Teaching Fellows on the BSc Medical Biosciences (BMB) programme.
A classic case of ‘whodunnit’, the exciting scenario started with Dr Garcia-Haro explaining to students the importance of statistics which quickly took a dark turn when the session was interrupted by police officers who notified everyone that a famous model had been murdered! The scene was further set by Dr Zalli, who read out a newspaper article about the murder, while a video was used to summarise the key details of the gruesome crime. Participants were split into 5 groups and introduced to the handcuffed suspects, whom they interrogated using a real interrogation sheet, and went on to gather evidence from the crime scene. Each group was also allocated a suspect they had to defend in a mock court trial – the finale of their investigation. (more…)
Robot Surgery Live at the Science Museum
The celebrated Imperial surgeon Professor Lord Ara Darzi took a step back in time to the year 2000 to re-enact the UK’s first robot-assisted keyhole surgery operation on Friday 10 March at the Science Museum in London, as part of the museum’s current Robots exhibition
Using the UK’s first da Vinci surgical robot device (recently acquired by the Science Museum for its major new Medical Galleries, scheduled to open in 2019), Professor Darzi and his team demonstrated how he removed his patient’s gallbladder in that pioneering operation, controlling the surgical instruments remotely from a console on the other side of the operating theatre. (more…)
The Undergraduate Primary Care Education team has kicked off an exciting new work experience programme called WATCCH – Widening Access to Careers in Community Healthcare. WATCCH aims to open up work experience opportunities in the healthcare sector by offering placements for sixth form pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to shadow various allied healthcare professionals in GP practices.
Pupils will attend a pre-placement induction at Charing Cross campus, and will then have a 3-day work experience session at a GP practice where they will observe a variety of allied healthcare professionals in the community, e.g. health visitors, phlebotomists, nurses and physiotherapists.
Email WATCCH for more info.
We are currently improving the way we involve and engage with patients and the public across the NIHR Imperial Patient Safety Translational Research Centre, to ensure they are at the heart of what we do. In August, we held an event with 37 patients and members of the public to discuss our future research themes at the Centre and our strategy for patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE) in research. (more…)
Stand Up To Cancer
The SiMMS group within the Centre for Engagement and Simulation Science (ICCESS) had an important role in Channel 4’s Stand Up To Cancer telethon on Friday 14 October. The annual live TV event is a partnership between C4 and Cancer Research UK and features stars from film, music and television. The production company behind the 2016 event approached ICCESS after seeing recent media publicity about the Centre’s pioneering haptic device for rectal examinations.
Members of the team, led by Centre Director Dr Fernando Bello, duly took part in rehearsals and filming, setting up the device for TV presenter Davina McCall to get a lesson in direct rectal examination (DRE) from Dr Mike live on television!
The inclusion of the robotic rectum in the show helped make an important point. Embarrassment about rectal examination can be one reason why some men don’t visit the doctor even if they have symptoms that are indicative of prostate cancer. The SiMMS group are keen to explore ways in which their device can be used to help educate patients on the importance of rectal examination – and why it’s not worth dying of embarrassment.
Here’s a clip of Davina performing her first rectal examination…albeit on the robotic rectum: http://bit.ly/2gEzyf7
Wellcome Saturday Studio
A team of researchers, clinicians and educators from ICCESS delivered a highly successful workshop at the Wellcome Collection on Saturday 29 October. ‘Saturday Studio’ is a series of drop-in workshops for people aged 14-19 inspired by the Wellcome Collection and led by experts from a range of disciplines. The ICCESS team, led by Prof Roger Kneebone, delivered a hands-on session that explored the skills of surgery from an unusual perspective.
The three themes of the workshop covered some of the skills fundamental to surgery
- Joining and sewing, led by lacemaker Fleur Oakes, demonstrated how delicate stitching and handiwork is key to many surgical procedures
- Working in teams, featuring puppeteer and theatre director Rachel Warr, showed how puppets are moved and manipulated by several people working in tandem, highlighting the importance of collaboration in the operating theatre
- Teaching your fingers to see, led by ICCESS researcher Dr Alejandro Granados, taught guests how the sense of touch is vitally important to clinicians when performing internal examinations
The event was extremely popular and received a great deal of positive feedback from the young people who attended, and the ICCESS team are hoping to go back to deliver another such session in future.
For more information about the Wellcome Collection Saturday Studio visit
Imperial College Centre for Engagement and Simulation Science (ICCESS)
An intimate public engagement event by the CSC has drawn together researchers from different areas of science, and sparked conversations that could be the beginnings of interdisciplinary collaborations.
The “Hearts and Minds” event, held on referendum day as part of the MRC Festival of Medical Research, took place at the Data Sciences Institute at the Imperial College South Kensington campus. A curving wall of floor-to-ceiling images surrounded the audience on all sides, creating a unique immersive visual experience. The day brought together Declan O’Regan (top right) who explored how far artificial intelligence might help us to predict future illness, and Oliver Howes (top left) who used giant spinning brains to help him explain his latest work on possible treatments for schizophrenia.
Sculptor Katharine Dowson (bottom right) displayed life-sized models of her own heart and brain, produced using data from medical scans. Deborah Oakley (bottom left), from the CSC’s communications team, discussed her personal motivations for taking part in a research study that involved an uncomfortable heart scan.
Advances in technology mean medical scanners can now tell us a lot about our hearts and our brains. The event explored how much we really want to know, particularly from brain scans, about conditions that may not always be treatable, and that might reveal information about our mental health.
The stunning images and narratives of the day captured the attention of prominent scientists, sixth form students (right), and representatives from a patient group and a charity who attended the event.
Science Communication Officer
MRC Clinical Sciences Centre
Between 23-25 May 2016, the 3-day Pint of Science festival took place across 50 different cities in 9 countries across the world and Imperial College was part of the fun. The ‘Our body events’ organised by scientists from Hammersmith hospital (Flavia Fioretti, Serena. Tommasini Ghelfi and Sheba Jarvis) organised scientific talks by staff from the faculty of Medicine staff on the floating pub, Tamesis Dock, across the river from the Houses of Parliament. Pint of Science was founded by previous postdoctoral scientists from Imperial College and has continue to run successfully each year since 2013 with the events designed to engage the public in science and making scientific research accessible to everyone in the relaxed pub atmosphere!
On the first night, speakers Dr Amanda Cross talked about her research studying the effects of diet on health whilst Anna Domogala and Dr Anushruti Sarvaria talked about manipulation of the immune system to treat disease. On Tuesday, Professor Waljit Dhillo spoke about his pioneering work on kisspeptin, a hormone important for puberty and his translational work at using kisspeptin to help make fertility treatments safer which has led to 30 healthy babies. Dr. David Macintyre talked about his work on characterising the implications of bacteria within the female reproductive tract and the importance of the ‘lactobacillus’ also found in yoghurt in terms of pregnancy outcomes.
On the final night, Dr Nick Oliver discussed the ‘bionic man’ and focused on the state of the art around the artificial pancreas in the treatment of type 1 diabetes whilst Dr Nicoletta Nicolau talked about the secret dreamworld of anaesthesia. Bring the scientist out to the public was hugely successful at getting them out of the lab and all talks were met with excitement and a large number of audience interactions with the speakers. The Pint of Science festival was a success and has helped to whet the scientific appetites of the public.
Clinical Research Fellow
Department of Surgery & Cancer
- GHI Annual Lecture 2015 ‘Reforming high risk patient support in the U.S. Healthcare System’, 16th June from 18:00 followed by drinks reception
Join us for our annual lecture with Professor David Meltzer from the University of Chicago
- Would you like to host one of our monthly Non-Communicable Disease Forums?
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) kill 38 million people each year.
IGHI’s monthly NCD Forum provides an opportunity for interdisciplinary discussions of NCDs in low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs). Apart from its intrinsic interest, we hope that it will foster inter-Faculty research initiatives and leverage the immense strengths of Imperial to resolve one of the largest problems facing the world in the early 21st Century.
All members of the College from all Faculties are welcome including students at all levels. The Forum meets normally on the third Thursday of each month between 3:00-5:00pm. If you are interested in hosting a future forum, contact Jo Seed with your proposed topic at email@example.com
Check out the write up of April’s NCD Forum which focused on eHealth in the LMICs.
- Join us for our Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics, 20th-23rd June 2015, Royal Geographical Society
Like the symposium on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/hamlynsymposium
Visit the Symposium website http://www.hamlyn-robotics.org/
- Sowerby eHealth Symposium 2015, 16th July 2015
Join us for a conference to explore the benefits to patients from data sharing.
Communications and Events Officer
Institute of Global Health Innovation
Susan Watts joins the Clinical Sciences Centre
The CSC has appointed its first Head of Public Engagement and Communications. Susan Watts will lead the next stage in the centre’s plans to tell wider audiences the ground-breaking research of its scientists.
Susan is an award-winning science journalist with a 30-year career as a broadcaster, writer and speaker. She was Science Editor of the BBC’s Newsnight programme until September 2013, when the post was closed.
“We’re delighted to welcome Susan,” said Amanda Fisher, Director of the institute and professor in cell biology at Imperial College. “Progress in the biomedical arena is gathering pace and Susan will help us showcase the amazing discoveries driven by CSC and Imperial research teams”.
Susan said: “I am hugely excited to begin working with the institute’s talented scientists, so that people can find out more about what their promising research might mean for them.”
Imperial inspires scientists of the future
Over 100 pupils aged between 7 and 11 years old enjoyed hands-on microscopy workshops at the CSC in March.
Local pupils from Glebe Primary School and Old Oak Primary School travelled to the Imperial teaching laboratories in the Commonwealth Building where they peered down light microscopes to examine beating heart cells, neurons, cancer cells, fly maggots and more.
To help the children make the most of the day, CSC scientists were on hand to demonstrate how to use the equipment and answer any questions. Demonstrator Hamlata Dewchand says, “Working with the children is always great fun and it is important to pass on our knowledge.”
Nitric oxide inhibitors protect against chronic kidney disease
Chronic kidney disease affects approximately one in ten people but there are few effective treatments. Now researchers at the Clinical Sciences Centre have shown that inhibiting nitric oxide can protect against chronic kidney disease.
The researchers used ADMA – an inhibitor which typically raises blood pressure and impairs kidney function – to inhibit nitric oxide within the proximal tubes of the kidneys of transplant patients.
“This finding is completely novel and goes against the dogma that loss of nitric oxide is always bad for you,” says James Leiper, leader of the CSC’s Nitric Oxide Signalling Group.
“This paper demonstrates the strength of combining the very strong basic science from the CSC together with clinical medicine from Imperial College and ICL NHS Trust, and may have significant implications on the management of patients with chronic kidney disease.”
Find out more about the research: http://csc.mrc.ac.uk/novel-protection-mechanism-chronic-kidney-disease-identified-4/.
Tomlinson JA, Caplin B, Boruc O, Bruce-Cobbold C, Cutillas P, Dormann D, Faull P, Grossman RC, Khadayate S, Mas VR, Nitsch DD, Wang Z, Norman JT, Wilcox CS, Wheeler DC, Leiper J (2015): Reduced Renal Methylarginine Metabolism Protects against Progressive Kidney Damage. J Am Soc Nephrol, pii: ASN.2014030280. [Epub ahead of print]
Science communications officer
MRC Clinical Sciences Centre
- Professor Beate Kampmann coauthored a paper entitled Ebola: A holistic approach is required to achieve effective management and control in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The review summarized the current knowledge, examined the sociocultural context in West Africa, and outlined priority areas for future research.
- Dr Nathalie MacDermott presented the Good Friday meditation on BBC Radio 4 . Nathalie has been to Liberia several times to work with Ebola patients. Nathalie is currently an Honorary Clinical Research Fellow but has just been awarded a Wellcome Trust ISSF award to further her work on Ebola in Sierra Leone.
- Professor Simon Kroll and Professor Paul Langford have been awarded £210,000 from Meningitis Now to look at the impact of Men B vaccination on bacterial carriage in babies and young children.
Section Secretary – Paediatrics
Imperial College London
The World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH)
Over 1000 high level policy makers, industry leaders and academics gathered in Doha for the second World Innovation Summit for Health.
A global centre for excellence in innovation and design in healthcare delivery was formally opened today by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.
Read about and watch the full video recording as six Imperial finalists compete to win funding towards their global health research project.
The only UK based Cholangiocarcinoma charity visited IGHI to find out about our research & diagnostics for this rare type of liver cancer.
Communications and Events Officer
Institute of Global Health Innovation
The annual Young Scientist Day 2015 took place on Wednesday 4 March in the Wolfson Education Centre. The event was a great success, attracting a large number of PhD students and also a handful of MSc and MRes students; one of whom was inspired to run a similar event in his own cohort.
The morning was dedicated to poster presentations, with participants enjoying a wide range of posters from all 5 Divisions. Our three winners were:
- Natalie Johnston: Optical interrogation of glucose-regulated beta cell connectivity
- Luke Moore: Surveillance to stewardship: bridging the gap for antimicrobial resistance
- Ryan Mitchell: Reciprocal changes in glucose tolerance after pancreatic beta cell-selective over-expression or deletion of Slc30a8/ZnT8 in mice
The afternoon saw an impressive suite of ‘3-minute thesis’ presentations, with one PhD student from each Section Cohort challenged to communicate their research effectively in just 3 minutes. The overall prize was awarded to Nisha Ranganathan for her presentation ‘Why killing 99% of bacteria isn’t enough’, with a runner-up of Jonathan Underwood, who spoke about ‘How antiretrovirals affect the brain’. Nisha and Jonathan will progress to the 3-minute thesis competition at the College-wide Graduate School Summer Symposium in June.
We also enjoyed stimulating talks from three Department of Medicine Postdocs, which was a new feature for 2015. They provided some useful and good-humoured advice about PhDs, Postdocs and careers and PhD students enjoyed the opportunity to network during the drinks which rounded off the day.
Another new feature was a visit by 11 secondary school students from the Misbourne School, Buckinghamshire. Dr. Pascal Durrenberger, a Research Associate within Brain Sciences, has been leading an outreach project with the school’s STEM club, and the students enjoyed a varied day presenting their poster about brain waves, using microscopes and touring the Imanova Imaging Centre. Academics and PhD students made a real effort to engage the students.
The event would not have been possible without the generous support of the Graduate School, who provided funding for refreshments and also for the prizes. Young Scientist Day is a perfect example of the ‘cohort-building’ activity that the Graduate School seeks to support. We are also grateful to Dr. Kevin Murphy, Dr. Jane Saffell and to a number of other academics and Postdocs who gave up their time to act as judges for the poster and presentation sessions.
We look forward to planning Young Scientist Day 2016!
Department of Medicine Operations Trainee
For the second year running, Professor Roger Kneebone’s Explore Surgery team took part in the Green Man Festival in Wales. The festival is an eclectic mix of music, science and art, attracting visitors from across the UK. Based within the Einstein Garden, Explore Surgery delivered two workshops inviting participants to look at the surgical world from unusual points of view, revealing hidden secrets of the operating theatre.
For ‘Who Pulls the Strings?’ Explore Surgery worked with puppeteer Rachel Warr to develop a surgical simulation that demonstrated the similarities between the theatre and the operating theatre. Puppeteers work closely together, relying on non-verbal communication when manipulating their puppets in order to deliver a high-quality performance. Similarly, surgical procedures are performed by a closely-knit team in a very different kind of theatre, where communication using the hands is as important as that spoken by mouth.
The collaboration ‘More than Skin Deep’ with sculptor Matt Lane Sanderson saw families working together to create a piece inspired by the use of stents in cardiology interventions. Participants used techniques from surgery and sculpture to create a stent-like piece of art to take home with them, reflecting on the evolution of surgical techniques, the interactions between man-made and organic structures, and the importance of working together when time and patient safety is at stake.
Festivalgoers who participated in the activities really enjoyed the experience and learning about the hands-on nature of surgery, and it was also a very rewarding event for team members.
For more details of the team’s participation in the Green Man, head over to their Facebook page
To hear Monocle’s interview with Prof Kneebone from the Green Man festival, visit http://monocle.com/radio/shows/culture/149 (the segment starts at 25:15)
Ana Rita Rodrigues
The charity Best Beginnings is inviting you to use and give feedback on a new mobile phone app designed to support parents-to-be and new parents in the social, emotional and physical transition to parenthood and in giving their baby the best start in life. The app, designed in collaboration with Dr Mitch Blair, will support parents-to-be and new parents in the social, emotional and physical transition to parenthood and in giving their baby the best start in life.
Version 1.0 is available now and can be installed on smartphones using the following links:
- Android phone: http://bit.ly/1sBrquz
- or by clicking here: http://www.bestbeginnings.org.uk/babybuddy-involved
Best Beginnings actively encourage you to download and use the app so that you understand its functionality and content, so you can recommend it, as appropriate to the families you support and use it in appointments.
All the content of the app has been through a rigorous approval process and endorsed by the RCM, RCPCH, RCOG, RCSLT, CPHVA and iHV.
The charity is actively seeking feedback from parents and health and social care professionals ahead of the official launch in mid November 2014 to make the app even better. You’ll be asked to give feedback in app and you can also email the charity directly.
When you register as a user of Baby Buddy app do select the healthcare professional option. This way the charity can separate out feedback from parents and professionals.
Best Beginnings would be delighted to hear any suggestions you have for additional content eg: new FAQs for the “Ask me” function via: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you download the app and use it you may want to rate it and write a review of it on Google Play or iTunes App Store. The more reviews there are for parents-to-be and new parents looking for help, the easier it is to decide if it’s worth downloading.
About Baby Buddy
Baby Buddy has been designed for parents to use alone but also to use in appointments with healthcare professionals. One of the aims of the app is to help make “Every Contact Count”. Currently there are about 40 short films in the app, mostly from Best Beginnings’ From Bump to Breastfeeding and Small Wonders DVDs. The charity is now making 100+ new films which will be included in the app by Spring 2015.
This first version of the Baby Buddy app is aimed at mothers and covers the period through pregnancy to when the baby is six month old. With additional funding Best Beginnings plans to make a dad’s version and take the content to the third birthday.
Baby Buddy focuses on empowering young mothers particularly, and also young parents, to improve their health choices and well-being. As well as increasing knowledge, improving confidence and enhancing bonding and attachment, the app reinforces the importance of accessing health services.
Best Beginnings has produced a set of free posters and leaflets for display and distribution in hospitals, clinics and surgeries that will raise awareness about the Baby Buddy app.
Baby Buddy has been created by the child health and wellbeing charity Best Beginnings. The app has been made possible thanks to funding from the Big Lottery Fund, the Tedworth Charitable Trust and the Guys and St Thomas’ Charity alongside the technical whizz of our fab app developers Despark.
On September 30, PCD launched its innovative free School Meals Planner tool at the leading global school feeding conference, the Global Child Nutrition Forum 2014 where it was welcomed by 250 participants including 12 state ministers drawn from 40 countries. The tool, which is a first of a kind showing the macro and micro nutrient content of meals, will help programme makers to plan menus which address challenges including child malnutrition, anaemia and food insecurity.
Click here to read more.
Partnership for Child Development
Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Mechanisms of Severe Acute Influenza Consortium (MOSAIC) was established in 2009 to find new treatments and approaches for future outbreaks.
Jointly funded by the Wellcome Trust and MRC; MOSAIC commissioned the renowned illustrator Steven Appleby and prolific animator Pete Bishop to create a short animation film for public engagement purposes.
We hope you find it educational, fun and most importantly, that it prompts you to think about the part you may play in future outbreaks which could result in a pandemic. Would you be a perfect host and potentially spread influenza, or are you immunised and therefore would stop it spreading?
Scientific input was given by Professor Peter Openshaw of the National Heart and Lung Institute and Dr Calum Semple of the University of Liverpool.
For more information please visit www.imperial.ac.uk/mosaic
How culture shapes room for manoeuvre in hospital reform
Imperial’s Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI) and the Centre for Global Health Research were delighted to host an evening lecture with Professor Pieter Degeling on how culture interacts in hospitals across the world. The event was chaired by Professor Debra Humphris, the Vice-Provost for Education at Imperial. Read more
The National Reporting & Learning System (NRLS) Patient Safety Summit
Patient safety experts gathered at the Royal Society of Arts in May at a summit hosted by IGHI’s Centre for Health Policy to hear about the progress of the National Reporting and Learning System (NRLS) Development Programme. The NRLS, which was set up in 2003, is a central database of patient safety incident reports and the aim of the summit was to establish a common understanding of the strengths and limitations of the NRLS and generate new and innovative ideas for the future of incident reporting in patient safety. Read more
IGHI exhibited at Imperial Festival 2014. From testing lung capacity in the Helix centre using balloons all the way through to testing members of the public for liver fluke with the Centre for Gut Health – IGHI had something for everyone. The Centre for Health Policy exhibited a thought tree which allowed members of the public to speak out about current global health challenges and what they thought should be done to overcome them. The Hamlyn Centre for Robotic Surgery enjoyed the delight on children’s faces as they watched Neo the robot dance and they also enjoyed trying their hand at the penguin video game in order to find out about how the Centre’s EaR sensor works and what it is being used for.
Communications and Events Officer
Institute of Global Health Innovation
Professor Wendy Barclay has been appointed to the the Advisory Committee of the Science Media Centre (SMC); an organisation whose mission is ‘To provide, for the benefit of the public and policymakers, accurate and evidence-based information about science and engineering through the media, particularly on controversial and headline news stories when most confusion and misinformation occurs’. Imperial’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Tom Miller, is already a Trustee and Advisory Committee member of the SMC.
This month also saw Professor Barclay provide expert reaction to pandemic potential of circulating influenza viruses, for the SMC, alongside other experts in the field.
Prof Eric Lam’s research group Breast Cancer Campaign’s ‘Research Team of the Year’
Professor Eric Lam and his research group have scooped Breast Cancer Campaign’s sought-after ‘Research Team of the Year’ award for their pioneering study into why women with breast cancer can become resistant to chemotherapy treatment. With Breast Cancer Campaign funding, made possible by support from Asda’s Tickled Pink campaign, Professor Eric Lam and his team were crowned winners for their pioneering research, which aims to discover what reactions happen within individual cancer cells to make tumours stop responding to chemotherapy.
Professor Eric Lam and his team were announced as the winners at Breast Cancer Campaign’s awards ceremony on Tuesday 6 May at the House of Lords.
Dr Kirsty Flower, Postdoctoral Researcher, on taking part in the Imperial Festival
For our demonstration in the Research Zones Marquee of the Imperial Festival, we wanted an interactive way to explain epigenetics to people who may never have heard of it before. On our shopping expedition to buy toy cars (to represent cellular transcription machinery), and a ramp (representing a gene), our remit quickly extended to dinosaurs too; of course a pterosaur could represent promoter methylation! Why not use a t-rex as an analogy for histone acetylation?! After finding a ramp with a loop-the-loop, our minds were set. Then we picked up a scalextric too.
The VIP launch on Thursday evening was fun and interesting, with a steady stream of intrigued visitors to see our toy cars, as well as some useful conversations with other groups from Imperial exhibiting in the same space. Friday evening and Saturday were much more exhausting than anticipated as the toys were a magnet for small children, but did allow for some conversations with the parents whilst their kids were busy with the dinosaurs. We also met people interested in collaborating in future public outreach activities, and teachers looking for new ways to engage their students in science.
Over the three days, a rotating cast of eight enthusiast members of the Epigenetics Unit (Ian Green, Angela Wilson, Adam Beech, Emma Bell, Alun Passey, Natalie Shenker, Nair Bonito and me) ensured that there were never less than two or three individuals on the stall at any time. Overall the experience was very positive, and feedback from both the organisers and members of the public was good.
Division of Cancer
The week beginning 7 April was Parkinson’s Disease (PD) Awareness Week, which saw our PD Research team (Charing cross & Hammersmith staff) working with Parkinson’s UK volunteers to promote awareness by setting up and manning stalls at Charing Cross. This included a lot of information about PD research from The Michael J. Fox Foundation,whose clinical trial studies we are running at Charing Cross. Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with PD when he was in his 30’s, and, via his foundation, is now funding a global study of which we, at Imperial college London, are one of the sites.
As well as research we have been actively working with volunteers to promote PD awareness to the general public, carers and health professionals.
Clinical Research Officer
Parkinson’s Research Team