Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.


Ludwig Oxford volunteers returned to Headington Festival on Sunday 4th June at Bury Knowle Park. The Headington Festival is an annual event run by Headington Action and features ~50 stalls from local organisations, plus a programme of live entertainment. We demonstrated various aspects of DNA packaging and the effects of DNA mutations to many members of the public.

A number of activities were set up to demonstrate the work done by our researchers including temporary DNA tattoos and making your own DNA bracelet. Other DNA stalls included DNA origami. Cell studies were investigated by choosing fun cell and organelle stickers for younger audiences and playing a homemade traditional French game where participants could act as a cancer targeting medicine and throw the ball into slots assigned as cancer or immune cells (each with different points), the higher you score, the better your activity against cancer!

Montage of Ludwig Oxford volunteers interacting with Headington Festival attendees and DNA-based activities

A huge thank you to our volunteers Rom, Brittany, Adam, Berna, Ehsan, Hannah, Antonella and Camilla for getting involved!

Previous Years:

A group of Ludwig public engagement volunteers took our newly created family friendly activities to a sunny Headington Festival in Bury Knowle Park on Sunday 3rd June.

A brightly coloured 3D-printed model of DNA, showing the double helix and base pairs4 Ludwig Oxford Researchers standing in front of the stand at the Headington FestivalHow is DNA packaged?

In this activity, participants were given two pipe cleaners twisted together (to mimic DNA) and pieces of plastic resembling cotton reels (to mimic structures in the cell made of proteins called nucleosomes). The challenge was to try to increase the compaction of the DNA by wrapping it around the nucleosomes – making a structure called chromatin, which is how DNA is packaged and organised in the cell.

What happens when DNA is mutated?

DNA contains the information necessary for life. The four bases of DNA – A, T, C and G – are arranged in a specific order so that they code for messages. These messages contain the instructions for building units, called proteins, which make up and maintain an organism such as a human. In this activity, we have a section of DNA that codes for a message. Participants first needed to decode the DNA to work out what the message was. The order of the DNA was then changed or mutated and this affected the meaning of the coded message. As the DNA acquired more and more mutations, the message became meaningless.

The DNA decoding and mutations public engagement activity5 Ludwig Oxford researchers standing in front of the stand at the Headington Festival in bright sunshineDNA mutations that result in losing the meaning of the instructions that control important biological processes, such as when a cell divides, increase the risk of getting cancer.

Thanks to the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics for sharing the concept behind this activity.

A huge thank you goes to Marketa Tomkova, Ruoshi Peng, Ying Bi, Svanhild Nornes, Wenjun Huang, Mirvat Surakhy, Jingyi Ma and Richard Lisle for volunteering.