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Cancer immunotherapy was the focus of this year's participation in the MRC Festival of Medical Research, which took our researchers to shopping centres in Didcot, Reading and Oxford.

MRC WIMM researcher talks to member of the public about research on cancer immunotherapy

It is really nice to know that this therapy is already helping patients, and is not something that will only be available in 20 years time - Visitor

Our researchers visited The Orchard Shopping Centre in Didcot, The Oracle in Reading and the Westgate Centre in Oxford. Engaging with almost 800 people in 3 days, 50% of which had never spoken to a scientist before, our aim was to reach a new audience and explain how their taxes are supporting our life-changing research. We were also visited by Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West and Anneliese Dodds, MP for Oxford East, who took the time to talk to our researchers about our work.


New cancer therapy

MRC Festival 2019 (23)Cancer immunotherapy is a new type of therapy that boosts the body's own immune system to recognise and kill cancer. Already available on the NHS, this novel way to fight cancer received the 2018 Physiology and Medicine Nobel Prize, and is an active area of research in our institute. Researchers at the MRC WIMM, MRC HIU and MRC MHU are trying to understand why some patients benefit from cancer immunotherapy while others don’t, are studying the immune cells that are awakened by immunotherapy, and are developing new cancer immunotherapy drugs.




MRC Festival 2019 (10) MRC Festival 2019 (21)


Researcher-LED project

Over the last 6 months, a group of 8 researchers from across the institute, MRC HIU and MRC MHU have worked together to translate our research on cancer immunotherapy into an engaging stand for adults and children alike. The stand included a ball pit game where children played the role of an immune cell, trying to find cancer cells without or without the help of cancer immunotherapy. Meanwhile an electronic model helped our volunteers to explain how cancer immunotherapy works at a molecular level.

Cancer immunotherapy was offered to my father as a treatment, so it is nice to understand how it works - Visitor


All visitors were rewarded with their own chocolate Nobel Prize medal. Visitors could also take home MRC-branded freebies, and leaflet put together by our researchers and illustrated by our own PhD students.


MRC Festival 2019 (25)

MRC Festival 2019 (11)


Over the three days we counted with the support of 20 volunteers across the MRC HIU, MRC MHU and MRC WIMM: Alba (Mead group), Martyna (Sauka-Spengler group), Mafalda (Davis group), Charlotte and Isaac (Koohy group), Doran (Morrissey group), Ricardo, Grigore and Douzi (Vyas group), Anna (Quek group), Dannielle and Zixi (Dong group), Xiaopeng (Ogg group), Matt and Priscila (Hughes group), Viola and Marta (Simmons group), Spencer (Goriely group), Yukyee (Cader group) and Henry (Rehwinkely group). Many thanks to all for their enthusiasm!


Team work at the 2019 'Science in the Supermarket' in Didcot


Even one conversation can spark an interest in science in a child. This is why it is so important that you are here today - Visitor


Engaging pupils online

Meanwhile Ryan Beveridge, manager of our Virus Screening Facility, participated in this year's 'I'm a Scientist, Get me out of here'. This popular online public engagement project sees researchers answering questions from school pupils across the country, eventually voting for their favourite scientist to win the £500 prize. So far Ryan has answered a wide range of questions, from 'Can we use genetic engineering to completely abolish disease?' to 'What is your favourite food?'. The MRC Festival zone of 'I'm a Scientist, Get me out of here' continues until the 28th of June.


MRC Festival 2019 (5)

MRC Festival 2019 (24)


The MRC Festival of Medical Research takes place between 13th and the 23rd of June 2019. MRC-funded units, centres and institutes showcase and discuss their work through events and activities around the UK and in Africa.