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Public engagement

We are passionate about communicating our research goals and advances to a broad audience, particularly school children and young people, and patients and their families. Events include:

  • Science communication events and festivals
  • Patient support workshops
  • School visits

Recent highlights:

FunLab at Big Weekend, July 2018. The institute took part in FunLab on Saturday July 14th on Parker’s Piece, as part of the Cambridge Big Weekend. This was a drop-in event with hands-on science activities for all ages, which attracted ~1900 visitors.

Particular thanks to our student and researcher volunteers, all from different labs, for their time and energy on what was a very hot afternoon!

Rachel Allison · Sophia Breusegem · Alice Fletcher-Etherington · Anna Dickson · Nivedita Sarveswaran · Dick van den Boomen · Ye Zhu


Fun lab a  Fun lab b  Fun lab c

Fun lab d  Fun lab e  Fun lab f


Institute Public Engagement Award 2018. This year, our Public Engagement Awards were given to Jenny Hirst (Robinson lab) and Niko Amin-Wetzel (Ron lab). Although both have been regular volunteers at institute events over the past couple of years, these awards were made particularly in recognition of the new ideas and activities they have developed. While Jenny has created a fluorescence microscope adapted from a light microscope using 3D-printed parts, Niko devised the idea of a 'Guess the Organelle' quiz box for this year's Science Festival.


Harston 2018  Harston 2018 c  Harston 2018 b


Harston and Newton Community Primary School visit (June 2018). Sophie Breusegem (Larrieu lab) and Alison Schuldt joined researchers from the MRC-LMB for a fun afternoon with years 3&4 talking about cells and organelles, and seeing how we can light up parts of the cell with fluorescence microscopy. Lovely to receive feedback: "The children gain so much from meeting real scientists and understanding how science impacts on daily life".

Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia Support Group (June 2018). Jenny Hirst facilitated discussions at the annual meeting of this UK patient group, aiming to create a new action plan for supporting those with HSP.

Cambourne science b  Cambourne science c  vCambourne Science a

Cambourne Science Festival (May 2018). Reiner Schulte (CIMR) together with Nicola Wilson and Fernando Calero-Nieto (Gottgens group, Cambridge Stem Cell Institute) took part on May 12th in the Cambourne Science Festival, a great local event in which children bring their own science projects for display. Reiner had hands-on microscopy activities in which visitors could see the many cell types that make up our bodies!


Cambridge Science Festival (March 2018). Two weekends of drop-in events in the city at the Guildhall and on the Biomedical Campus. Thanks to all of our dynamic volunteers who ran microscopy activities and helped visitors to Guess the Organelle and Build the Cell!

Niko Amin-Wetzel · Sophia Breusegem · Folma Buss · Ana Crespillo-Casado · Alex Davenport · Janet Deane · Anna Dickson · Jenny Dickens · Gordon Frazer · Jenny Hirst · Jake Kendrick-Jones · Antonina Kruppa · Delphine Larrieu · Miriam Lisci · Arianne Richards · Alisa Zyryanova · Alex Davies · Jo Chambers · Hayley Sharpe · Stefan Marciniak · Vijesh Bhute · Katie Young · Mike Nahorski · Emily Fletcher · Geoff Woods



CSF2018e CSF2018d

CSF2018m CSF2018h CSF2018l

CSF2018k CSF2018j CSF2018g                                            

'What's the Point of Pain?', Cambridge Science Festival (March 21 2018). As part of the Science Festival, Geoff Woods, Mike Nahorski and Emily Fletcher presented an engaging evening seminar on ‘What’s the point of pain?’, attracting an audience of >80 adults and teenagers.

                                                CSF 2018b

Big Biology Day (October 2017). A fantastic open day event at Hills Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge, which provided an opportunity for families and students to discover how microscopes can reveal the inner workings of cells, and to learn about the many careers options in science.

Past events:

Previous Science Festivals events.

Science seminar in DR Congo (May 2017). Jane Stinchcombe (Griffiths lab) visited the Anglican University of Beni in North East DR Congo, where she gave their first overseas speaker seminar. Her talk focused on microscopes and research on cytotoxic T-lymphocytes to an invited audience of university lecturers and students, medics, other community members and the local press.


Stinchcombe Congo a  Stinchcombe Congo b


CIMR Public Engagement Award 2017: Special congratulations to the Marciniak lab, who won our institute Public Engagement award at the CIMR retreat this year in recognition of their fantastic contributions to public engagement events at the Science Festival, school visits and through outreach talks.


Science Week, primary school visits (March 2017): The Owen, Nathan and Marciniak labs visited local primary schools in Harston and Cambridge during Science Week, running activities to learn about the inner workings of cells and how DNA provides the blueprint for life.


The Big Draw at the Royal Society (October 22 2016): A brilliant day at the Royal Society's BigDraw event, where CIMR researchers and artists worked together with visitors to create a giant cell, complete with fantastic new visions of organelles, the cytoskeleton and cell surface!

giant cell b  Giant cell Big Draw  Giant cell c

Giant cell d  Giant cell f  giant cell e

Inspired by Jenny Hirst (Robinson lab), Nele Dieckmann, Gordon Frazer, Jane Stinchcombe (Griffiths lab), Alisa Zyryanova (Ron lab), Gareth Fearnley and Hayley Sharpe (Sharpe lab), together with Petra Matthews-Crow, Freya Matthews-Crow (Astor College, Dover) and Germaine Jayandra (Fairly House School, Pimlico) together with many creative families!

Watch this video of the Big Cell coming to life:



Hay Festival (May 26-June 5): Fortune favours the prepared mind. Jim Huntington attended this summer festival in the Brecon Beacons, to talk about the control of blood clotting and therapeutic strategies for preventing heart disease and strokes.

Read more

Pint of Knowledge (April 27 2016). Researchers from David Rubinsztein's lab took part in this 'pint of knowledge' event at the Panton Arms, Cambridge. This public engagement initiative, from the Society of Spanish Researchers in UK (SRUK), included talks and discussion to highlight how insights into neurodegeneration can come from studying different model organisms.

Pint of knowledge 


Science inspiration session in Sierra Leone (April 2016).  Jane Stinchcombe visited Freetown, Sierra Leone to volunteer in Kroo Bay. She ran a ‘science inspiration session’ for >25 young people, in which she shared her experiences working as a researcher, talked about microscopes and her research on the immune synapse. The session was a great success, with participants also using microscopes at look cheek and onion cells, leading to many questions and a pertinent discussion about the inside of a cell.

 Sierra visit e Sierra visit f Sierra visit g



Jesus College school outreach workshops (November 2015-March 2016). Jenny Hirst (Robinson lab) has given four school lectures for year 10-12 school groups from across the southeast region, introducing her research into protein traffic and her career experience as a research scientist.

London International Youth Science Forum (July 2015). A pleasure to take part in the LIYSF 2015 event this year, with a group of keen students from around the world  - another chance to tour our research facilities and see how research works first hand.

International Summer School, Jesus College, Cambridge (July 2015). Tom O'Loughlin from the Buss lab ran a workshop for international high school students on cell trafficking, including a talk and microscopy sessions using Paramecium as a life cell model.

CIMR-Kings College Student Open Day (July 2015). A fantastic day with two groups of year 12/13 students visiting the institute to learn about a career in research. Inspiring talks from our Director Gillian Griffiths, Jenny Hirst and Stefan Marciniak, a chance to meet with CIMR students and have tours of our research facilities.

Science workshop, Jesus College, Cambridge (June 2015). Jenny Hirst from the Robinson lab ran a workshop for year 10 students together with Malte Gersch (LMB), which included a chance to make protein crystals of lysozyme.

Fulbourn Primary School visit (June 2015). Jenny Hirst, Alex Davies and Bavani Sahu from the Robinson lab visited students to talk about our cells and the intracellular transport system. Students viewed their own cheek cells under a microscope, conducted races between nutrients and viruses in a cell model, and even decorated cell biscuits.

Inspire Me: History of Flu (April 2015). Stefan Marciniak took part in the Inspire Me seminar series this month at the senior school of the Stephen Perse Foundation. The talk, “One hundred years of influenza - Spanish ‘flu to the present day”, spanned the influenza pandemic last century that killed 70 million people to the research today aimed at preventing this from happening again.


The CHaOS roadshows (Winter and Summer 2014). Richard (or Miffles) Mifsud from the Read lab and Gordon Frazer from the Griffiths lab are committee members for Cambridge Hands-On Science (CHaOS), a student society of Cambridge University that organizes engaging science events for families and young people. Their activities include local events as part of the Cambridge Science Festival, at the Cambridge Science Centre, and as part of the CHaOS roadshows in the summer and winter months.

UK HSP Family Support Group (June 2014). Evan Reid participated in the annual general meeting of the UK Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP) family group. He discussed the past and future of HSP research, beginning with the original descriptions of the condition by Adolph Strumpell in the 1880s, and ending with the latest developments in cell biology, animal models and stem cell technology. New developments for the HSP clinic in Cambridge were also highlighted.

The egg challenge (May 2014). James Edgar, Scottie Robinson, Nicola Hodson and Jenny Hirst went to Fulbourn Primary School for a hands-on scientific investigation into the appearance of a mysterious egg on the school playing fields!  

Cambridge Literary Festival (April 2014). At a public engagement event attended by more than 100 people, Bertie Gottgens took part in this 'Thinking Aloud: Stem Cells' event together with the Director of the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, Austin Smith, and Amer Rana.

Primary school visit (March 2014). As part of Science Week, Maike de la Roche, a postdoctoral fellow in the Griffiths lab, and Alison Schuldt visited Morley Memorial Primary School in Cambridge, to discuss T cell killers of the immune system with a Year 1 group. The children watched T cells in action by live cell imaging, used stickle bricks to understand pathogen recognition, and created their own T-cell  biscuits.

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) Information and Support Day (March 8 2014). This free event at Addenbrooke's Hospital was organized and chaired by Fiona Karet on behalf of The Polycystic Kidney Disease Charity. It aimed to inform patients, their families and carers about different clinical aspects of PKD as well as the latest research, and allowed them to put questions to medical experts and share their experiences in breakout sessions led by renal counsellors, our research nurse and speakers. Topics covered included the basics of the disease; screening and genetic testing; diet and lifestyle; research; and transplants. Invited speakers included Dr Dick Sandford (Cambridge), Ms Clare Parslow (Cambridge), Dr Roz Simms (Newcastle), Dr Paul Winyard (London) and Mr Andrew Butler (Cambridge). The 100+ participants also enjoyed a low-salt lunch and lots of clear fluids!