MRC WIMM researchers were enthusiastic participants of the Family Fun Day at the Royal Institution in London this past Saturday, part of a series of events around this year's Ri Christmas Lectures. The action packed day included talks, demonstrations and experiments exploring the science behind what makes each of us unique.
The MRC WIMM's contribution focused on how genome editing is helping biomedical research, and was part of the UKRI sponsored rooms, representing the Medical Research Council. Our colourful stand explored the science of genome editing, from the basics of the technique to its applications in medical research. The stand was originally developed for the MRC Festival of Medical Research 2018, but has since been taken to the Oxford Science and Ideas Festival and several local schools.
One of the activities examined how genome editing can be used to perform large scale screens, helping us understand better how cells are able to fight virus infections, an activity inspired by the work of our MRC Human Immunology Unit.
Meanwhile, the excitment was great around our cuddly bone marrow, where children played the role of a cell doctor, trying to find the sick cells that needed to be 'edited', all in a race against the clock to beat previous participants. This interactive game got across some of the research going on in our MRC Molecular Haematology Unit, and their efforts to help those with blood diseases such as cancer by editing the stem cells in their bone marrow.
Throughout the day our volunteers interacted with over 260 people, half of which were children. The topics of discussion were all aspects of DNA biology, genome editing and indeed anything that our visitors were interested in, including the science of platelets, how many times all of our DNA would go around the Earth and the applications of genome editing in cancer immunotherapy.
It was a fun, but exhausting, day, so many thanks to Chelsea (Fairfax group), Department of Oncology; Natalina (Roberts group), Alice (Fulga group), Hana (Wilkie group) and Janina (Ogg group), Radcliffe Department of Medicine; and Abdu (Ahmed group), Nuffield Department of Women's and Reproductive Health.