MRC Festival at the MRC Centre for Transplantation

On Wednesday 21 June 2017 five students from City Heights E-ACT Academy spent the day at the MRC Centre for Transplantation learning about the lifecycle of clinical trials as part of the MRC Festival of Medical Research.

For a week every June, Medical Research Council (MRC) funded units, centres and institutes showcase and discuss their work through events and activities around the UK and beyond during the MRC Festival.  This year’s MRC Festival was between 17-25 June and the MRC Centre for Transplantation, part of the Division of Transplantation, Immunology and Mucosal Biology at King’s College London, held their event on Wednesday 21 June.

Drug Trials13 schools in King’s Widening Participation Network were invited to take part in a competition to win a VIP day at the MRC Centre for Transplantation.  The competition asked students to answer the question “What is the lifecycle of a clinical trial – from idea to patient treatment?” in a 30 sec video, song, rap, poem, diagram or poster.  The winning entries were a rap and poster from City Heights E-ACT Academy.  Director of Science at City Heights E-ACT Academy, Lee Smith said the competition question covered the same Key Stage 4 content but with extra detail and some different terms, which reinforced students’ learning.

When designing the MRC Festival event, our aims were to increase awareness and understanding of the benefits of both medical research and clinical trials to society and to inspire a new generation of scientists.  To achieve these aims, we divided the day into three:
– a morning spent in labs with post doc researchers learning about cutting edge cell and protein therapies in EMPIRIKAL and The One study clinical trials.
– a lunchtime speed dating session learning about the different careers and careers paths in science.
– an afternoon working with a designer and Kidney Patient Association representatives (KPA) to visualise the lifecycle of a clinical trial – from idea to patient treatment.

The MRC Festival 2017 was a very successful day with all the students agreeing that they would consider participating in a clinical trial in the future; the students valued the opportunity to meet patients who had participated in clinical trials.  They loved the opportunity to speak to the post doc researchers and spending time in working labs “watching the blood get separated into the plasma, white blood cells and red blood cells.”  Another highlight of the day was the speed dating as “It was really interesting to hear what they studied and how they go into science.”

The students from City Heights E-ACT Academy who took part in the MRC Festival are invited to the MRC Centre for Transplantation 10 year anniversary celebrations on Thursday 05 October.  The visualisation of the lifecycle of clinical trials they created during the MRC Festival will form a centrepiece at this event.

The MRC Festival was sponsored by the MRC, King’s College and Wellcome Trust.

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