The first Birmingham Cancer Showcase event took place on Wednesday 10 April, and visitors attended the Medical School to find out more about how we are fighting cancer in Birmingham.
The event showcased the breadth of wonderful cancer research taking place at our Birmingham Cancer Research UK Centre, and we welcomed anyone with an interest in knowing more about our local research.
At the event, visitors were welcomed with a detailed programme explaining all of the event content. Visitors were then shown into the exhibition area in the Wolfson room, which comprised of 15 table top stands and lay posters. Exhibitors included researchers working on viruses and cancer, brain tumours, epigenetics and clinical trials; plus exhibitors from the Pan Birmingham Cancer Research Network, Queen Elizabeth Hospital research team, Cancer Research UK, University of Birmingham and Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.
The Centre for Professional Development rooms
The Centre for Professional Development rooms included additional displays of CR-UK’s online Cell Slider project, a room all about genes and cancer manned by the teams from the West Midlands Regional Genetics Lab, NHS National Genetics Education and Development Centre and genetics counsellors from Birmingham Women’s Hospital, plus drop-in workshops on careers in cancer, patient involvement and health information.
The Leonard Deacon and CPD lecture theatres were used to host 20 minute ‘taster talks’ throughout the event. Topics included ‘an introduction to cancer’, ‘using viruses for prostate cancer therapy’, ‘what is a clinical trial?’ and ‘how your immune system can control cancer’ – picking on areas of specific cancer research expertise in Birmingham. Paul Moss gave the keynote presentation, entitled ‘Birmingham’s role in bringing forward the day when all cancers are cured.’
Tissue Banks and Laboratory Tours
The ‘behind the scenes’ tours of the labs and tissue bank proved incredibly popular. Lab researchers in the IBR West extension surpassed themselves by producing an incredible array of creative displays at their lab benches. Visitors were given a map of the floor, and they could choose which specific displays to visit. These included being shown how skin is grown for HPV research, yeast painting, loading gels, looking down microscopes, cultivating cells... to name a few!
Visitors were also given guided tours of our Human Biomaterials Research Centre, to see how patient materials are collected, processed and stored from hospitals across the West Midlands for use in our vital research.
A brilliant 302 visitors attended the event, a mixture of Cancer Research UK supporters, University staff and alumni, local 6th form students, local cancer patients and interested members of the public. A particular highlight was a fully themed “Dragons’ Den” finale, hosted by Rik Bryan, with Nick James, Pam Kearns, Dan Rea and Keith Wheatley acting as the ‘Dragons’ passing comment and judgement on proposed clinical trials being pitched by the clinicians.
Interactive voting keypads meant that the audience also got to have their say, and learn more about the complex decisions involved in cancer clinical trials.
Public response and feedback
When visitors were asked ‘How has today’s Showcase made you feel about the work going on fighting cancer in Birmingham?’, here are some of the replies...
“You did a super job bringing cancer research to the public. Thank you”
“Proud to know that my city is playing an important part in this field of research.”
“How fortunate we are to have such dedicated scientists working for Cancer Research UK. I now feel a renewed energy to fundraise for this wonderful research.”
“I feel very hopeful about finding the cure for cancer. Also I feel very motivated to get more involved in the research going on locally.”
“As a cancer survivor myself, it was very informative, especially to hear about the new trials and treatments in the pipeline.”
“The staff enthusiasm encourages me that they are passionate about their work and the desire they have to make a difference in curing cancer.”
“Positive and better informed – is good to know that information/research results are being made more accessible to the general public and to see how charities especially are helping to make certain developments possible.”
“I am pleased to have an important research base right in the city that I live in.”
“I feel the work being done in Birmingham is very important and has a huge impact on people’s lives.”
“Amazed at the amount of work that is being done to help fund cures and treatments.”
“Without research, there would not be improved testing for various cancers and their treatments. Going through breast cancer myself, I felt I needed to learn more about research, which is proving to be finding a lot of new and wonderful treatments.”