Imperial College London

Surgery and Cancer come out to play at the Imperial Festival


People at the virtual surgery stand at the festival

Virtual reality surgery at the festival

The Department of Surgery and Cancer were all over this year's Imperial Festival, which took place over the weekend of the 6-7 May.

Those who took part tell us about what they were up to and their experiences at the festival.

Cancer Research UK stand – Tamsin Ashton

Cancer research UK at the festivalThe Cancer Research UK Imperial Centre showcased pioneering cancer research from across Imperial College. On our interactive stall, guests got the chance to take a #cellfie with our smartphone microscopes, take a genetic taste test to learn about personalised medicine, design their own therapeutics, and debate which areas of cancer research are most important on our discussion table.  Throughout the weekend Professor Ed Tate’s group hosted behind the scenes lab tours, and on the Sunday Professor Zoltan Takats and Dr Daniel Leff shared their work on a piece of surgical innovation: the iKnife. It was a fantastic event and all the volunteers from across the department seemed to really enjoy themselves. All the guests were so engaged and interested in what we had to share! We look forward to coming along next year.

The iKnife – Emma White

Children interacting at the festivalAt the iKnife exhibit in the Health and Body zone this year we used some fun and interactive games to show how additional technologies, such as the iKnife can help surgeons during cancer removing surgeries. Visitors had the opportunity to play with a real laparoscopy training tool and try to separate different colour counters, representing normal and cancerous cells. After this, we had the classic game of operation to show how margin detection tools, with the iKnife being represented in this case by the buzzer, can help the surgeon navigate between visibly indistinguishable normal and cancer tissues. We had a great deal of interest over the weekend, we were able to chat with lots of people about our research and received some very positive feedback about the stall and the iKnife project overall.

Computational and Systems Medicine – Toby Athersuch

    JiaCSM had a number of stands at the festival covering many areas of research which included: Chromatography - using filter paper and inks used to study biological samples, including food, blood, and urine. Crystallisation – practical task making crystals and viewing them under the microscope to understand proteins. Biomarker board -  a game to help people understand clinical biomarkers and how they can be used, as well as what we do in metabolic phenotyping. Food biomarkers – run by Isa Garcia-Perez, Joram Posma and Gary Frost.

It was a good event in which we had the opportunity to speak to a huge number of people – the stands were rammed all weekend. Find out more about Outreach and engagement in CSM.

Women’s Health Research Centre – Alison Perry

Children at the festivalThe Women’s Health Research Centre facilitated a ‘Discover and Do’ table on the schools day of Imperial Festival, show-casing the combined fields of clinical research and clinical midwifery practice. Offering a number of hands on activities included jelly babies and pipettes. Find out more in their Baby bubbles and the Great Pipette Challenge blog post.


Kathryn Johnson

Kathryn Johnson
Department of Surgery & Cancer

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