Our participation in this year’s Oxford Science and Ideas Festival (IF Oxford) started with a living library at the Weston Library, part of the ongoing photography exhibition Now and Then. Visitors were invited to choose a book this matched them with a researcher for a short conversation. Representing the MRC WIMM were Andi Roy, discussing childhood cancer, Matteo Morotti talking about ovarian cancer and Claus Nerlov presenting his research on ageing and haematopoiesis.
New cancer therapies
Meanwhile a group of 12 students and postdocs joined forces to represent us at the Westgate Wonderlab in the Westgate Shopping Centre. A re-run of the stand that our institute developed for this year’s MRC Festival of Medical Research, our activities were a conversation starter to talk about our research on cancer immunotherapy. Our ping pong ball pitt was particularly popular, where children (and sometimes adults) played the role of an immune cell trying to find cancer cells with/without the help of immunotherapy. Our chocolate Nobel Prize medal replicas were a worthy reward for our hard working T cells!
Researchers Veronica Buckle and Caz Harrold were at the local St Michael’s Primary School to see their research come alive with dance, music and inflatable cells! Veronica and Caz were scientific consultants for a dance project on the hidden world of our cells, led by the Welsh dance company Impelo. Thanks to the support of the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, we were able to bring the show to Oxford, followed by a Q&A with Veronica and Caz, and also the contribution of Clare Hardman and Hal Drakesmith. Visitors were in for a special treat, and were each given a comic book about the science of the show, which included a comic character version of Veronica!
Battle for the iron crown
Our participation in this year’s festival concluded with a fierce (but educative!) battle. Hal Drakesmith and Noemi Roy joined 4 other researchers from across the University for an entertainining event where each researcher had to persuade the audience that their research on iron was the most important, with only 5 min and one object to help them. A truly interdisciplinary event, the evening brought together researchers from our institute but also from the Department of Earth Sciences, School of Archaeology and School of Anthropology. The speakers wowed the audience with fascinating facts, unusual objects (from a real meteorite to a bag of blood) and a plethora of iron puns. In good spirit, the audience decided that all speakers were equal winners, and so the iron crown returned to the garden of our researcher Chris Babbs, who kindly lent us his impressive iron crown for the event.
This year’s festival boasted the participation of more than 20 people across the MRC WIMM. Many thanks to everyone who participated and shared our science with the local community!