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Science and Research Festivals

Hutchison/MRC Outreach Activities


Cambridge Science Festival 2018


On the day the clocks sprang forward, team Hutch was out there, yet again taking part in the Cambridge Science Festival. In spite of the formidable weather, this year the Festival recorded a footfall of 67000 people over the two weeks and the Biomedical Campus had over 3000 visitors in one day alone, at the event held in the CAST building!   Sharing a room with the CRUK CI and the University society CATS (who had models of their own this year, thanks to the MRC CU sponsorship from last year), the Hutch activities, diverse and each brilliant in its own way, were themed around the importance of Early in Cancer. Particularly poignant, was the fact that this year we had patients who had benefitted from the research that had started out in our labs, spending the day with us to tell their story. Visitors young and old enjoyed their day, be it through hooking ducks to discover mutations, pretending to be a cancer cell navigating a blood vessel, simulating a western blot or a mass spec device or playing early detection sleuths catching rouge cancer cells. Not only did our scientists talk about the traffic light genes that stall cancers on their journey, but they also managed to punch in an inspirational element for the younger ones about how a scientist was a person just like themselves. We are grateful to the Cambridge MRC Community for a second edition of the MRC Cambridge Activity Book and to our CRUK CI and CCC colleague for help with the logistics.




 MRC Festival of Medical Research, 2017- Celebrations at the MRC CU

The MRC Festival of Research this year was celebrated across the country from 17- 25 June. The main aim of the festival was to (1) Engage the MRC community to increase understanding of the MRC's strategic aims and their own contribution to these (2) Build trust in medical research by sharing MRC-funded research with audiences (3) Increase awareness and understanding of the benefits of medical research to society.

As part of this, the MRC Cancer Unit decided to focus on engaging with young minds through an Open Day at the Unit itself and the inauguration of a rolling Schools Roadshow program to visit schools outside of Cambridge. Our aim was both to showcase the research that goes on at our Unit, with special emphasis on the importance of ‘early’ in all aspects of cancer research as well as to highlight how numerous career opportunities open up through undergraduate and post-graduate training in science, technology and research.

On a scorching summer’s day, we had about fifty sixth-form students visiting us from four different local schools (Hills Road, Long Road, Parkside Federation and The Perse). Small batches of students along with their teachers were taken on a tour of our research labs where they had a chance to interact with our students and staff members and the opportunity to try out some of the hands-on experiments that had been carefully designed for them. To finish off there was a careers session over cakes and juice with a chance to meet staff from across the spectrum (research group leaders to science support), students and post-docs and a bag full of MRC memorabilia to take home. In spite of the hectic and hot afternoon, all the enthusiastic young visitors and our Unit members alike had a great time. Here is a flavour of what it was like on the day.



The same was true of our inaugural visit to Comberton Village College on the 23rd of June where our researchers and our partner team from the Cambridge University Society, CATS, presented an eclectic mix of research and career stories. So well received was this short presentation, that the MRC CU have been requested to come back in the autumn and talk to the whole school! …Here is a glimpse of that afternoon.

The Hutch at the Cambridge University Science Festival, 2017

On a day filled with glorious sunshine what a fantastic celebration it was for the MRC CU to mark the last day of the Cambridge Science Festival, 2017! The event was hosted again this year at the CRUK CI building as a collaborative effort between members of the Cambridge Cancer Centre. The Unit had a great team of students, post-docs and staff who were joined by the Cambridge University society, CATS, to promote the Unit’s mission through all the 8 activity stands that were on display. In addition, there were 2 very well attended talks (150+ visitors) presented by members of the Unit, relating to the role of computational biology in cancer and the link between metabolism and cancer.  With 300 + visitors ranging from retired pensioners to primary school children, it was a day filled with the buzz of creativity. All the activities at the stands had been carefully designed in-house with months of thought and effort having gone into it. Be it the hands-on experience of a key-hole surgery model, anatomical models of disease, using raspberry pies fruits and ducks to illustrate cancer mutations in the genetic code, a bespoke cancer invasion maze or chromosomes models to understand the impact of genomic instability, there was something to meet everyone’s taste and curiosity.  It was also a great opportunity to show-case the breadth of MRC funded science in Cambridge through the well-received MRC Colouring Book–a joint creation between various MRC Units in Cambridge. Last, but not the least, the event allowed the Unit to highlight the upcoming MRC Festival of Medical Research through publicity leaflets distributed to all visitors. Overall, a fun filled day of creativity and science coming together!