Hannah Robinson and Joe Shaw are trainee clinical scientists in the North East Thames Regional Genetics Laboratory at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH). In this blog they describe their activities to support Healthcare Science Week 2017.
On Monday 13 March, we held an interactive event at Great Ormond Street Hospital to promote the valuable contributions that healthcare scientists are making to the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of patients.
By involving teams of scientists from several healthcare specialisms, we were able to run exciting activities to give patients and their families an insight into the daily work of healthcare scientists. We also provided plenty of opportunities for visitors to get stuck in and learn about the diverse nature of healthcare science.
The genetics department ran a chromosome matching game and used a family tree using characters from the Star Wars films to explain how some traits or conditions (such as The Force) can be passed down through families. We also challenged everyone to make a folding DNA helix using a paper template, which was much harder than it first appeared!
The neurophysiology team displayed models of the brain to highlight how each region is involved in different functions. They also explained how they use EEG (electroencephalogram) recordings to measure electrical activity in the brain during different types of seizures. The sleep physiologists brought their recording equipment along to demonstrate how they can monitor the sleeping patterns of patients, and how this can provide important diagnoses.
Scientists from microbiology used different fruits to represent how the size of microbial genomes can vary. Visitors had a go at making their own polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with coloured beads on string, and learned how this technique can be used to detect microbial infections in patients. Scientists from infection control explained how important it is to stop the spread of infections between patients, with children getting to streak culture plates themselves, and make model agar magnets to take home.
Patients loved being able to dress up in full personal protective equipment similar to that used by our cell therapy scientists to ensure a completely sterile environment when they manufacture cell products for patients.
As well as the science-themed activities, we also ran a healthcare science careers stand for any budding scientists and a free raffle for everyone that attended the event, with gifts kindly donated by GOSH Charity and the GOSH Healthcare Scientists Education Working Group.
The event was a brilliant opportunity to showcase some of the fantastic work being done by healthcare scientists at GOSH, which is often hidden behind the scenes in our laboratories. Some visitors were surprised to hear that we even had laboratories in the hospital!
The response from everyone at the event was overwhelmingly positive and many enjoyed being able to meet real scientists, ask questions and get hands-on with science. Perhaps most importantly, everybody we asked, all said they had learnt something new about healthcare science.