Imperial College London

HPRU presents at Science Museum Superbugs Lates



A Science Museum visitor aiming a carbapenem bullet at the bacterial infection

The Science Museum Lates are hugely popular after-hours themed events hosted on the last Wednesday of every month.

This month saw the team from the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in HCAI and AMR take over the galleries on the second floor of the Science Museum as part of the Superbugs night. The team hosted two brand new activities ‘Build a Bug’ and ‘Battling the bugs: an antibiotic arms race’.

Visitors at the Superbugs Lates at the Science Museum were invited to take up arms in the form of Nerf guns to demonstrate how antibiotic resistance occurs and why our over-use of antibiotics is a global problem.

Science Museum visitors queued up to have a go to prescribe their penicillin ‘bullet’ against the bacterial infections while not inappropriately prescribing against viral infections. Would-be GPs saw how the virus wasn’t affected at all and how their antibiotic use even when prescribed correctly resulted in resistance in the bacteria. This game proved to be a huge success, particularly as alternative antibiotics were made available to players up to the point of a rocket launcher representing the antibiotics of last resort.

The team engaged with the public in a fun and interactive way and at the same time brought home the message to use antibiotics sensibly to avoid an apocalyptic world where the antibiotics no longer work.


Build a bug
HPRU team showing how to build a bug

Our second stand ‘Build a Bug’ invited people to get involved and build their very own bug using pipe cleaners and pompoms. Visitors were shown the impact of using antibiotics on their bugs and how natural resistance occurs resulting in the creation of new, more resistant superbugs. Volunteers were then asked to build new iterations of bugs to withstand further doses of antibiotics. They saw how with each new dose a new breed of superbugs emerged. This activity generated lots of questions and discussions between our researchers and members of the public who were able to see how real the problem of antibiotic resistance is.

These HPRU activities and four more stands will be presented at the Imperial Festival and Schools day from 27, 28 and 29 April 2018.








Rakhee Parmar

Rakhee Parmar
Department of Infectious Disease

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