Cambridge Science Festival (2019)


Sunday 24th March from 11AM to 4PM.


Cambridge Academy of Science and Technology. Biomedical Campus, Cambridge.


The Science Festival is organised and managed by a large number of people across many institutions and laboratories. The MRC Cancer Unit is contributing to the event with almost 50 volunteers. For our team, Suzan Ber, Khushali Patel, Annie Howitt, Andrew Trinh and Pablo Oriol Valls invested several days of work in preparing this event. We are looking forward to meeting you there!


Activities. We will have a stand at CAST where there will be a showcase on cancer research.

We have prepared a new activity to show you how some oncogenes (mutant genes that cause cancer) alters the capability of cells to process information from its environment, thus inducing wrong cellular decision leading to disease. You will drive a radio-controlled car on a track that will look different wearing different coloured lenses to model how mutations alter cell perception of the world.  Where will you end up in the maze of cell fate decisions?

We will also present our SCRATCH game, a little whack-a-mole, or whack-an-oncogene we should say, game programmed in Scratch. This little game aims to illustrate how different cancer-causing mutations, even in the same gene, might require different medical treatments. These strategies are called personalised medicine or theranostics.

Indeed, in our day-to-day research, we are investigating how different mutations can cause different cancer-causing changes in cells and if we can use this knowledge to work out how to predict the best medical treatment for each tumour.

Talks. The MRC Cancer Unit is lining cellbiochembaloonup three speakers for Sunday, Prof. Ashok Venkitaraman, our Director, on the origin of cancer, Dr. Shamith Samarajiwa on AI-based cancer research, and me with a new talk entitled “The cell: a living computer in a droplet of water“. In my talk, we’ll have a chat on what is life, what is a cell, how cells process information akin a computer within a tiny drop of water and how cancer hacks these information processing machines.

Poster and leaflets. At our stand, we will have plenty of material to share with you. We can have a chat in front of an informative poster about cellular decisions and cancer. We have also produced two leaflets about science and diversity. We are very proud of our diverse group, institute, and University and we believe that everyone together, irrespective of their gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, believe or physical ability can contribute to the fight against cancer.

This year focus will be on diversity, but we have also produced a new leaflet on women in science. Try to solve our Word Search Puzzles about Women in STEM and SciFest2019_EDI_Superhero, and visit our EDI page.



Preparing the track for the RC-cars

We did work as a team, but some people have been more involved in one or another activity. Suzan Ber coordinated the team activities and worked on the production of the leaflets.  Khushali Patel drew beautiful pictures for the leaflets and for our car track. Andrew Trinh modified the RC-cars and helped in building the track. Annie Howitt prepared the coloured tracks to create the effects with the coloured lenses and helped in building the tracks. Pablo Oriol Valls helped with photography, to prepare AV material, and worked on our SCRATCH game that was programmed, last year, by  Tom Schoufour. Alessandro Esposito has tried his best to make the work of everyone even more challenging 🙂 Everyone volunteered for the Sunday event and spent several days of work alongside their day-to-day research activities.

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