MRC Festival of Medical Research 2018 experiences

Read experiences of academics who secured funding from the Medical Research Council (MRC) to deliver public engagement activities at the MRC Festival of Medical Research for the first time.

MRC Festival of Medical Research July 2018

One of the MRC Festival’s objectives is to increase awareness and understanding of the benefits of medical research to society, taking place across 21 UK and two African sites.

This is the first year that the University has taken part in the Festival, with two research groups receiving funding to offer free drop-in sessions at the Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds.

Surfaces and hand-hygiene: washing away fluorescent germs

Marco-Felipe King (Civil Engineering), Martín López-García (Maths) and Catherine Noakes (Civil Engineering) received £1200 from the Medical Research Council to offer an activity directly related to their research.

They explained to visitors the importance of hand-hygiene to avoid the spread of bacteria, and why this is especially problematic in hospital settings. Visitors learnt through the means of videogames, exploring how mathematical and computational modelling can help to better understand these infection processes

Marco says: “This event helped us to learn how to communicate research in a very fundamental way that is helpful to both of us when we are dealing with the general public, and we learn about how the research is perceived. From the survey, it’s great to see that most people have responded well and let us know they’ve understood everything”. 

MRC Festival of Medical Research July 2018

So, just what is personalised Medicine?

Susan Richman from the Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology obtained £1120 from the MRC to fund her stand which was split into three sections, with the first aiming to bust the stigma around bowel cancer screening, incorporating a game and a competition.

The second highlighted the work of the MRC-funded S-CORT Stratification in Colorectal Cancer, which accesses and retrieves colorectal tumour samples from around the UK (over 3000 in total) for molecular profiling. This aims to provide a wealth of information and help to guide researchers to identify which patients will respond to particular chemotherapy regimens, or radiotherapy regimens or indeed respond to targeted therapies.

The final stand highlighted the FOCUS4 clinical trial which recruits patients who have advanced bowel cancer. The trial works on the premise that molecular tests can be applied to patient tumours which can lead to the allocation of each patient to the therapy, where they are likely to gain the most benefit – the perfect example of personalised medicine in action.

MRC Festival of Medical Research July 2018
If you're interested in running an activity or for more information, see the MRC Festival website or contact the PE team.

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