Up to 1000 people visited the WTCHG stand at ‘Science Uncovered’, the annual free event marking European Researchers’ Night at the Natural History Museum in London on Friday 26 September.
Group head Julian Knight, post-docs Kat Plant and Peter Humburg, and DPhil student Anna Sanniti were kept busy from 3.00 until 10.00 pm, answering questions about genetics and helping children and adults to enjoy practical activities. Their stand in the ‘disease station’ featured a poster illustrating how genetics can help us to understand complex diseases such as ankylosing spondylitis, a colourful model of DNA, and the essential freebies (provided by the Nuffield Department of Medicine public engagement team) of syringe pens and ‘science quote’ fridge magnets.
The young children who came during the afternoon enjoyed making colourful DNA bracelets, but the same activity also appealed to the older visitors who came later, providing an opportunity to demonstrate how single-nucleotide differences in a genetic sequence can influence functions such as the ability to metabolise alcohol.
Peter Humburg said 'We were all impressed by how enthusiastic the visitors were, and their prior knowledge of genetics.' Kat Plant added 'People were especially interested to hear about how our research may have an impact in the clinic in the future.'
Both agreed that it had been really good fun. ‘I only wish I’d had time to look at all the other stands!’ says Kat ‘I’d definitely be happy to go again next year.’