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On Saturday 8th September 2018 12.30-3 pm, the Old Road Campus Research Building (ORCRB), housing Ludwig Cancer Research, the Jenner Institute, the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) and the Department of Oncology opened to the public as part of the Oxford Open Doors scheme run by the Oxford Preservation Trust. Each unit had a stand in the main atrium of the building with fun educational activities for all ages.

Ludwig Cancer Research demonstrated various aspects of DNA packaging and the effects of DNA mutations. In the first activity, participants had the chance to see if they were as good at packing as human cells, with the challenge of working out how 2 metres of DNA fits into the very small nucleus of each cell in the body (which are 200,000 times smaller). Visitors could also test their ability at breaking codes, by decoding the message hidden in the DNA. They could then see how changes to the DNA can alter this message and result in diseases like cancer.

On the other stalls, visitors explored the transmission of infectious diseases such as malaria by building a model mosquito (Jenner Institute), learnt about 3D packing in protein crystals using jelly babies (SGC) and understood the use of medical imaging techniques by seeing if they can guess the fruit or chocolate bar from its MRI (Department of Oncology).

In addition to our science fair activities, visitors had the opportunity to see a demonstration of our fluorescence microscopes and go on a lab tour to see the state-of-the-art equipment used by scientists.

A montage of photos from the Oxford Open Doors event in the Old Road Campus Research Building showing children and adult public members engaging with researchers to learn about science via the public engagement activities 

Many thanks to Sarah Andrews, Ying Bi, Richard Lisle, Corinne Lochmatter, Svanhild Nornes, Mirvat Surakhy, Jakub Tomek, Marketa Tomkova, and Jo Wainwright from Ludwig Cancer Research, the ORCRB Building Manager, Charles Parkins, and the volunteers from the other units that helped make this happen!