The events were held to celebrate International Clinical Trials Day on 20th May and were part of the "I Am Research" campaign - a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) initiative to raise awareness of research among NHS patients and staff.
Following the trail
Now an annual event, this year’s Research Activity Trail proved as popular as ever with over 60 patients and their families visiting 10 different activity stations around the hospital. Visitors of all ages enjoyed a host of interactive activities - from dressing up in special clean room suits, to looking at muscle cells down a microscope and seeing how researchers use 3D printing to create model of the heart. Some of the trail activities were old favourites - such as the “Vegetable Biopsy” stall run by staff from the NIHR GOSH Clinical Research Facility, and “When Cells Attack”, where families played a card game and coloured in joints to to learn how the body fights infections. For the first time, the trail also featured the “Superbug Arcade” activity where children had the opportunity to swab a smartphone to see what bugs were living on it and learn about infections. There was also the chance for children to meet over 30 GOSH researchers and learn about how their groundbreaking work helps us discover new treatments, cures, and better ways to diagnose childhood illnesses.
Patients attending the GOSH School in the week leading up to International Clinical Trials Day received a special lesson from Clinical Scientist Dr Stuart Adam. Stuart, whose own research focusses on diagnosing blood disorders, introduced the young people to blood groups and how they are determined by the genes we inherit from our parents. In the practical part of the lesson, pupils were able to try their hand at ‘gel electrophoresis’ – a technique that separates DNA samples according to size and is used regularly in labs at GOSH. The pupils donned lab coats and used pipettes to load their DNA samples and were given a photo of their gel to take away at the end. Stuart also described how studying DNA can help researchers understand the causes of rare childhood illnesses and explained how developments in gene therapy are providing new treatment options for complex conditions such as leukaemia.
This events were part of the NIHR’s I Am Research campaign.