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Mrc fgu public engagement Andrew Ogilvy for MRC
Dr Charlotte Tibbit, Research Assistant in the Liu Group, helps children to make DNA bracelets at the MRC Centenary mini-Science Festival in Oxford, June 2013

The MRC FGU is involved in a wide range of public activities, examples of which are given below. The high profile nature of the work from the Unit has attracted considerable radio, TV and press coverage. A wide range of unit members (from the Director to graduate students) have given lectures to the public, been involved in local and national science festivals and engaged with school children. Further activities have involved working with patient groups and charities and advising policy-makers. The Director – Professor Dame Kay Davies – has also been active in raising the profile of women in science

In the Media

The FGU is committed to promoting its research through working with the media. Some examples are listed here:

Dame Kay Davies on her lifetime’s work in Duchenne muscular dystrophy - Article published on Naturally Selected, the F1000 blog, 10 December 2014

WISE Lifetime Achievement Award: Professor Dame Kay Davies CBE - This interview was filmed by WORLDbytes volunteers for the WISE (Women in Science Technology & Engineering) 2014 Awards night, 13 November 2014

Live and work in Oxford – Ji-Long Liu gave an interview to Sanlian LifeWeek, the Chinese equivalent of TIME magazine, 9 June 2014.

Castaways at the Ashmolean – Ji-Long Liu’s choice of castaway object was reported on Oxfordshire Limited Edition, 9 January 2014, and also featured in Sylvia Vetta’s new book Oxford Castaways 2, April 2014.

Celebrating 100 years of life-changing discoveries: Dale to Davies  - Video interview with Kay Davies, one of 7 short films commissioned by MRC to celebrate 100 years of life-changing discoveries, December 2013.

Cell biology and physics - What Ji-Long Liu was looking forward to at the 2013 ASCB Annual Meeting, 14 December 2013.

The macho world of scientific research - Article by Kay Davies for the New Statesman website,  26 September 2013.

Handedness - Caleb Webber and student William Brandler presented their work on BBC South and BBC Oxford, September 2013.

Autism - Caleb Webber presented his work on Radio 4 Today and Radio Oxford (and numerous mentions in the written press), June 2013.

Friction over Function: Scientists Clash on the Meaning of ENCODE’s Genetic Data - Chris Ponting quoted in Scientific American over results from the ENCODE project, 12 April 2013.

Wonder drug hope thanks to Town and Gown run - Kay Davies gives an interview to Oxford Mail for Town and Gown Fun Run, 27 March 2013.

Is junk DNA really rubbish? Chris Ponting participated in a discussion on Radio 4's Material World programme, 4 March 2013. 

Europe gives 1bn euro to Human Brain Project - Chris Ponting's involvement detailed on BBC Science and Environment website, 28 January 2013.

festivals & Events


Oxford Science Festival 2014 - Mattea Finelli from the Oliver Group took part in the Festival, 8 March 2014.

MRC Centenary Mini-Science Festival, Bonn Square, Oxford, 22 June 2013, organised jointly with Oxford-based MRC Units to celebrate the MRC Centenary:

  • 14 staff/students helped to man the FGU stand, while others also had input into the scientific content of the exhibits/activities.
  • Unit arranged for the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign to have a stand (fund-raising). Kay Davies, Rebecca Fairclough and Leigh Paton helped MDC volunteers to man the stand throughout the day.

Cheltenham Science Festival 2013 - 3 members of staff (Stephen Meader, Charlotte Tibbit and Mayte Siswick) from the Webber and Liu groups represented the MRC at the Festival, 7 June 2013.


Crossing the great divide? Moving between academia and industry - Chris Ponting contributed to an Acad Med Sci event at IBM in London, 6 June 2013.

Genetics Society Communication Workshop - Chris Ponting co-organised this workshop at which a member of his group was a presenter and two FGU graduate students were interviewed by the Naked Scientists, 24 April 2013.

 Talks to the Public


Duchenne Muscular Distrophy - Kay Davies is heavily involved in presenting her work on DMD:

  • Action Duchenne - 11th International Conference, Holiday Inn, Regents Park, London, 9 November 2013.
  • Save our Sons Gala Dinner - Help Cure DMD, Randwick, Australia, 31 August 2013.
  • Muscular Dystrophy Campaign - Staff and parents with DMD, lectures and tour, August 2013.
  • Explaining to Joining Jack the progress being made in research and clinical trials for DMD.

Harveian Oration 2013 - Kay Davies gave the prestigious oration, Royal College of Physicians, 17 October 2013.

Have I Got Snooze For YouOver the past two years, Peter Oliver has delivered this talk to public audiences at events in Didcot, Reading, Wallingford, Oxford, the Isle Of Wight and most recently at the Women’s Institute Science Conference, May 2013.


Science Slam Oxford - Peter Oliver was a speaker at the first Oxford Science Slam, Old Fire Station, October 2013 (Whats a Science Slam? Wikipedia).

Circadian Rhythms: The Beat of The Brain - Peter Oliver was an invited speaker at the Oxford May Music Festival 2013, Holywell Music Rooms, 5 May 2013.

back to school

Esther Becker hosted a week long work experience for a 17 year old pupil from the Cheltenham Ladies College, October-November 2013.

Ji-Long Liu hosted a 9-week long work experience for a 17 year old pupil from D’overbroeck’s College, July-September 2014.


Influence on policy

Members of the Unit will continue to engage with policy makers whenever possible to provide expert, informed advice where required in the formulation of national policy.

Kay Davies took part in a roundtable discussion on a new “longitude” prize for 2014 at 10 Downing Street, London, 29 April 2013.

Health Care - Chris Ponting was Training Lead for a Data Working Group reporting to the Chief Medical Officer (England) on the implementation of sequencing 100,000 genomes in the Health Care sector. Chris led committee section 3: “Training and development of a bioinformatics workforce", 1 February 2013.

Science & Art

Silent Signal (developed by Animate Projects) - Peter Oliver was selected to take part in a collaborative project between professional animators and scientists to generate new ways of presenting research, to become part of a Large Arts Award proposal to the Wellcome Trust (currently at the development stage in 2013).

Metabolic serpents - Ji-Long Liu’s images on cytoophidia, recent-discovered subcellular structures, have been selected by Cell Picture Show - Cell Curiosities, 29 August 2013.