The HCV research group is actively engaged in a broad range of activities to involve and inform the wider community beyond the specialist audience for our HCV research. These activities range from organising local patient events for World Hepatitis Day (28th July) to school visits and University open days. Many of the group’s members are CRB accredited and visit local schools, both in response to invitations and via the national “STEMnet” scheme of which we are members. The Medical School has an active outreach committee chaired by our group (Peter Balfe) and runs regular events to promote the school’s work in the local area. These programmes are coordinated with the many other public engagement activities of the Medical School and with UoB Press and Outreach Offices, ensuring that scientific and clinically relevant breakthroughs are well publicised. These activities maintain both our laboratory and the University’s position as a key regional, national and international opinion leader.
In addition to postgraduate supervision and mentoring, the group is actively engaged in promoting virology teaching within the University, helping to organise all of the modules in this area to medical and science undergraduates across all years and personally delivering a third of the lectures. We run a successful, regularly updated, website detailing the work of the group (http://www.infection.bham.ac.uk/VRG/). For the last 4 years this site has been the first hit for “HCV research” on all major search engines. Our web pages are frequently accessed both by our own undergraduates and by the wider public, typically receiving up to 2-300 hits per week.