Get hands-on with cancer research in Cambridge!

Join us on Saturday 16 March from 11am – 4pm for the Big Biomedical Campus day at the Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology.

Meet scientists and clinicians from the programmes and institutes of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre to get hands-on with our ground-breaking science as we tell the full story of the cancer research being undertaken across Cambridge!

We’re taking part in the Big Biomedical Campus family day on Saturday 16 March at the Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology (CAST).

Come and find us in the Cancer Zone on the second floor of the CAST building for hands-on experiments, informative demonstrations and plenty of fun activities for children and adults of all ages, including:

What is cancer?
We'll welcome you to the Cancer Zone by asking you what sounds like a simple question, but can you answer it? What actually is cancer?

Discover discovery science!
Labcoats, on. Safety glasses, check. It's time to refine your skills as a researcher in our pipetting challenge and laboratory equipment scavenger hunt. What is discovery science? Find out in the process!

Sweet DNA sequence bracelets
As, Ts, Cs and Gs… What does it all mean and how can changes in this alphabet of life lead to cancer? Find out whilst making some tasty jewellery that you can take home to eat.

Code breakers
Discover how DNA sequences code for proteins and how alterations in DNA can change the function of proteins in cancer cells. You'll also learn about the role of bioinformatics in analysing genetic sequences. Can you find the CAT faster than a computer?

CRISPR cuts in DNA
Come and play the CRISPR game to find out how scientists are using gene-editing technologies to find new therapies for cancer.

Epigenetic needles in a haystack
Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) circulates freely in the blood and comes from a variety of sources. Scientists can take a blood sample and look for cfDNA to see if it contains markers for cancer, but it is like trying to find a needle in a haystack! You'll hunt for the cfDNA 'needle' in our haystack and then will use magic light to decode its message to see if it is derived from a cancer.

Blood soup
Join us to create your own blood soup. You'll make up your own bowl of blood and then we’ll show you everything that’s circulating around your body!

Toxicity trek and exploring trial eligibility
Embark on a dino egg dig adventure to discover how patients become eligible for clinical trials and excavate clues about criteria and the scientific selection processes. Explore experimental cancer clinical trials by playing a snakes and ladders game where you'll navigate the progress and setbacks faced by participants and will learn about treatment side effects.

Cancer theraKEY challenge
Unlock the mysteries of targeting cancer with our cancer theraKEY challenge. Link the right therapy key with the correct cell door to unlock the success of targeting and killing cancer cells.

What’s my wee telling me?
Cancer? Infection? Or do I just need to drink more water? Take a look at some 'urine' samples and find out what doctors can learn from your wee.

Keyhole surgery simulators
Steady hands at the ready for our keyhole surgery simulator challenge. Test out equipment used by real surgeons to train and practice their key skills.

Jelly brain surgery and neuropathology
Have you ever wondered how difficult it is to be a brain surgeon? Join us to find out! Using our special jelly brains, you'll step into the role of a surgeon to see how well you can remove a brain tumour (chocolate covered marshmallow). Once you have removed the 'tumour', you will then use your detective skills and work with our neuropathologist to recognise the patterns and identify the features of normal and abnormal brain tissue.

Virtual Reality Cancer Laboratory
Designed as part of a collaborative effort between games designers, scientists, and astronomers, the virtual reality cancer lab is open for access! After putting on the headset, you will be transported to a virtual laboratory where you will experience an entirely new way of visualising tumours in 3D. Scientists are regularly using this technology to better understand cancer development and you will get the chance to join them!

Cancer detectives
The capsule sponge test is a quick and simple way to check someone's food pipe for signs of Barrett’s Oesophagus, a potentially precancerous condition where some cells in the lining of the oesophagus have become abnormal and more at risk of turning into cancer. Take a look inside the body with our model, Norman, as our specialist nurses demonstrate how the capsule sponge test works. You'll then collect your own cells from two 'patients' in our special game and can probe them for Barrett's Oesophagus.

Teddy bear radiotherapy
Time to gear up Teddy for a radiotherapy rollercoaster ride, targeting those trouble spots with pinpoint accuracy! Dive into the world of radiotherapy treatments, from classic to cutting-edge, and learn how researchers are revolutionising the field to ensure that Teddy – and future patients – receive top-notch care!

Mask mark making
Learn about the masks used in radiotherapy treatment and get creative with artist Sa’adiah Khan to make your mark on a collaborative mask artwork that will grow throughout the event! Everyone can also get involved with contributing ideas for the new Cambridge Cancer Research Hospital.

Cambridge Cancer Research Hospital
Cambridge Cancer Research Hospital is bringing together clinical expertise from Addenbrooke’s Hospital and world-leading science from the University of Cambridge and the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre, under one roof. Come and find out how we are changing the story of cancer, look at a model of this future East of England specialist cancer hospital, and marvel at some of the interior designs.

Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE)
Embark on a journey of discovery as we unveil the vital role that our patients play in shaping our cancer research. You'll meet some of our inspiring patients, will hear their stories, and will learn how their involvement is improving our scientific breakthroughs. Anyone with experience of cancer can get involved in our research: patient, carer, family member or friend. Find out more and sign up at our PPIE stall!

Find out more about Get hands-on with cancer research in Cambridge and the Big Biomedical Campus day on Saturday 16 March from 11:00–16:00 at the Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology, Robinson Way, CB2 0SZ.

Find out about other cancer-themed events at the Cambridge Festival this year, which runs from 13 – 28 March 2024 on the Cambridge Festival website.

12 Feb 2024