UK DRI at the MRC Science Fete: Virtual Reality Lab Tours, DNA, and Brain Hoopla


On Saturday 15 June, UK DRI joined MRC units from across UCL to transform South Cloisters into a Summer Science Fete, as part of the MRC Festival. A family fun day, over 300 attendees met scientists and learnt about current research, from experimenting with ‘Quack Quack’ disease to taking a ‘cell-fie’.

The UK DRI stand was packed out all afternoon, with a host of exciting hands-on activities on offer. Using new virtual reality headsets, visitors were transported to the UK DRI at Edinburgh, where Associate Director, Prof Giles Hardingham, gave them a personal tour around the lab. Attendees could also watch short videos showcasing projects and research techniques from Prof Tara Spires-Jones and Prof Joanna Wardlaw.


Thanks to some brilliant early career volunteers from UK DRI at UCL, families learnt how neurons talk to each other - by making their own pipe cleaner brain cells - and how DNA repeats lead to Huntington’s disease (HD) - using DNA necklaces. Next up, brain hoopla demonstrated regional vulnerability in HD, as attendees threw hoops over different areas of a giant brain. We also created a gallery of images from the UK DRI network, showing off the fantastic power of imaging and microscopy techniques utilised in neurodegenerative disease research.

Brain Hoopla And Images Landscape Test

The MRC Festival of Medical Research runs annually, with different events held across the country. MRC funded units, centres and institutes showcase their work to the public, promoting science and research to children and adults alike. At the Summer Science Fete, we joined scientists, researchers, students and volunteers from MRC units across UCL, including the MRC Clinical Trials Unit, MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology, MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing and the MRC Prion Unit.

There was great feedback from the event, with visitors professing “This is the most awesome day ever”, “I want to do science! Had lots of fun and talked to interesting people with cool jobs”, and “Good to learn more about neuroscience and VR”.

We would like to thank Samantha De La-Rocque (Schiavo Lab), Sarah Aldous (Bates Lab), Joe Hamilton (Tabrizi Lab), Emma Bunting (Tabrizi Lab) and Heather Ging (Tabrizi Lab) for giving up their Saturday afternoon, and inspiring the next generation of scientists!

We are also very grateful to the following UK DRI Group Leaders, and lab members, for contributing to the imaging gallery on the day:
Dr Marc Busche (UCL), 
Dr Soyon Hong (UCL)
Dr Sam Barnes (Imperial) - Dr Carola Radulescu, Dr Nawal Zabouri, Dr Leire Melgosa, Dr Shinil Raina
Prof Tara Spires-Jones (Edinburgh) - Dr Carmen Montero
Prof Nick Fox (UCL & Dementia Research Centre, UCL).

You can find a selection of images from the day on UK DRI Flickr

Ending Collage  Mrc  Summer  Fete