Normally when a health and medical research institute opens its doors to the public it’s a relatively staid affair. Sedate lab tours, maybe a public seminar or two, perhaps a research booth.
But, as you know, we do things differently here in Newy. HMRI Open Day started back in 2013 when it opened its spectacular building behind the John Hunter Hospital. The brainchild of Ellie McNamara, the day started out with 400 through the doors, and a handful of researchers getting involved.
Cut to 2018 when 4500 people streamed through the doors and every single space was filled with delights such as The Poo Room, (where you got to explore the digestive system and make your own poo. Yep, you read that right) and the lung loft, with giant globs of phlegm hanging from the ceiling.
You’ve got to build on perfection every year though don’t you? So this year there will be THREE themed rooms: The Poo Room (seriously, there’d be riots if we stopped this thing); The Brain Room (VR, ‘drunk goggles’, giant brains…); and Blood and Guts Central – a ‘triage tent’ where kids get made up with cuts, bruises, burns and gaping wounds – oh, and get to play with a giant bucket of fake-
vomit while they wait, and make blood!
It’s gonna be gross – and popular.
Other hands-on activities involve ‘building a fart’ (yeah, there’s a gastro-enterology theme going on – it’s one of our coolest research areas), make a DNA bracelet, craft a brain hat and colouring with art-bots.
The day’s not all just for kids. Adults can have a behind-the-scenes tour of different research labs and find out more about what our research teams are working on in the fields of cancer, fertility, stroke, and MS.
They can also check out our clinical trial spaces, where average people just like you and might actually have an opportunity to get involved in research – as the subject of a clinical trial.
There’s also four different research seminars: Inside Story: What Goes In Must Come Out (yes, there’s that poo motif again), The Weird and Wonderful World of Wounds (explore the science behind Blood and Guts Central and the world of moulage), When Good Cells Go Bad (sneaky cancer cells and sperm with two heads!) and Brains, Brains, Brains (the mysteries and the wonders).
There’s free parking available at McDonald Jones Stadium, with shuttle buses working on rotation throughout the day.
The event’s also free – just make your way to HMRI between 10am and 3pm on Friday 11 October to be surprised and delighted.