On Saturday, over 300 visitors had a rare opportunity to go behind the scenes of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).
Now in its third year, the event gave young people and their families the chance to visit real labs and watch science experiments in action, learning how doctors and scientists find treatments for some of the sickest children in the world.
Activities on the day included taste testing chocolates in a clinical trial with a twist, extracting DNA from strawberries and performing vegetable biopsies.
Vegetables await their 'biopsy' at the BRC Family Fun Day 2017
Wearing lab coats, doing experiments
Tours of the Cell and Gene Therapy labs proved popular, allowing guests to view a hidden, but crucial, part of the hospital. Young people and their families dressed up as scientists, used microscopes to analyse blood cells and even tested some pretend urine samples for serious childhood illnesses.
The NIHR Great Ormond Street Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) is the only BRC in the UK dedicated to children’s health and is currently running 300 research projects focusing on some of the rarest childhood conditions in the world.
Researchers from the BRC developed a state-of-the-art treatment to fix the immune system of children unable to fight off simple infections like a cough or cold.
As part of the pioneering 100,000 Genomes Project, scientists from the GOSH BRC are also studying the DNA of people from across the UK to help us understand why some children are born with rare diseases.
Deirdre Leyden, GOSH's Patient and Public Involvement in Research Lead, said: “This open day was really important to show children how medical research works and hear their opinions on what we do to improve the lives of those with rare and complex diseases. We hope the day provided visitors with an insight into the groundbreaking work that our researchers are undertaking every day.”
The NIHR GOSH BRC is a collaboration between GOSH and the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health. Find out more.