Brain researchers from across the University of Birmingham pose for group photo.

The event, hosted by Professor Zubair Ahmed, saw numerous researchers showcase their work in the foyer of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, earlier this week. This meant that members of the public could find out more about ongoing research projects and ask questions about our research to better understand brain injury.

It is vital that we engage with the public about our research as it contributes positively to society and results in our research being relevant to the needs of patients, improves the quality and impact of our research, increases the visibility of our research and helps build trust and mutual understanding.

Professor Zubair Ahmed, Institute of Inflammation and Ageing.

Several stands shared hands-on equipment, such as pipetting activities and models showing how cerebral brain fluid protects the brain using brain-shaped jelly sweets encased in water. Another showed off some of the equipment used in studies to measure blood flow within the brain, electronic signals within the brain and demonstrating how researchers can tell which parts of the brain are receiving oxygenated blood.

Equipment demonstrates measuring blood flow in the brain

Projects ranged from those looking at how biomarkers in blood and saliva can be used to diagnose and understand concussion, whether males or females show more severe symptoms of concussion and whether sports-related injury connected with different types of sport showed medical difference in the mild traumatic brain injuries sustained. Other projects looked at the interplay between neuroscience and ophthalmology, improving drug delivery to the eye, visual changes associated with brain injury, as well as patient reported outcomes studies, such as assessing the appetite of brain injury patients to complete forms via specially designed apps rather than on paper.

Public engagement stand with activities

Several of the studies showcased were conducted with military veterans, made possible by our close connections with the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. This week the University celebrated a major contract from the US Department of Defense for the mTBI PREDICT study, strengthening our connections with the military and the cutting-edge research they endorse.

From fundamental science to translational research and industry partnerships with companies looking to bring products to market, such as Marker Diagnostics who have worked with University of Birmingham on salvia tests for concussion, the whole spectrum of research was on show.

The event also gave undergraduate students at the University of Birmingham the opportunity to present their dissertation projects to the public, alongside Professors and clinicians talking about much longer running research programmes.

Professor Ahmed said: “The University of Birmingham, with our partners such as University Hospitals Birmingham and the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, has enriched the research environment in Birmingham and have made Birmingham a world-leading centre for research into brain injury. The recent award by the US Department of Defense for the mTBI PREDICT study typifies this”.