Public Engagement News
The Vaccine Brewery @ Green Man Music Festival August 2022
By Dr Sean Elias
Tom Jones sang about the ‘Green Green Grass of Home’ and as a proud Welshman this was certainly the lure when I saw an advertisement looking for scientists to attend Einstein’s Garden, the Science area at the Green Man Music Festival in South Wales. It was family friendly, relatively close and had the potential to reach a diverse and perhaps alternative audience to our typical events. After gathering a few recommendations from family and colleagues who had attended in the past, I got in touch and signed up our team from the Jenner Institute and wider vaccine team.
But how should I sell our ‘product’ to this new audience. The ‘Oxford/AstraZeneca’ vaccine is now a household name but we are also more than that and anyway people are quite bored of Covid by now. I wanted to showcase the full range of vaccines undergoing development at the Institute, but in a light hearted and accessible way. We had plenty of craft activities for children ready to go, including our ever popular ‘Make a Mosquito’, but I needed that adult hook. I had seen that some colleagues had planned to go to Glastonbury so got in touch for advice and inspiration. I ended up borrowing some of their vaccine tattoos of our ChadOx1 vaccine and it got me thinking. For me Festivals and beer go hand in hand, and we had a lot of empty beer bottles lying around (courtesy of the GQ awards and a years free supply of Peroni). The ‘Vaccine Brewery’ was born.
Making modern vaccines is actually remarkably like brewing beer and the story of the Oxford Vaccine during the pandemic is somewhat equivalent to a small microbrewery needing to make a global supply of beer to sate global demand of a suddenly popular product. This comparison alongside real manufacturing props including a real bioreactor was a good way to introduce the topic. Breweries also have a portfolio and back catalogue and it is often these lesser known products that go on to win the plaudits. To highlight our collection, ‘vaccine beers’ were developed as conversation starters, each with unique names and logos that linked to a story behind the vaccine. We made our own pub signs, beer matts and bar all sticking to the festival remit of a rustic rather than clinical feel to fit their aesthetic.
On the 17th of August we rocked up at the festival to set up our pitch. I was somewhat surprised to find such a gorgeous actual garden setting (though the green, green grass was more yellow after the recent drought) in a central festival position, not off to one side out of the way, but a stones throw from the main stage. There were several other Universities and a good mix of medical and green engineering themes.
The next day once the crowds arrived it was all hands on deck. It quickly became apparent that the science area has a hub for enthusiastic families, so I was very glad we brought along a variety of crafts we could rotate in and out (there is a limit to how many mosquitos you can make in a day). Our picnic rug was the perfect setting for some casual crafts but we could have done with another given our popularity. Typically after the lunchtime rush of children came a steady influx of interested adults into the later afternoon. Many came with an open mind keen to learn something new (and I must say loved the beer bottle props), others came with specific questions (repeat polio vaccination of children in London was a hot topic). Some even were aware of our work and asked about progress, not only on the topic of Covid but notably malaria vaccines as well. I even had a conversation about how to fix academic publishing with someone looking at developing a new type of journal. Many were pleasantly surprised that our now ‘famous’ group made the effort to attend. Every interaction however was overwhelmingly positive about our work, something we were unsure of before attending. I must say I lost count of the number of “thank yous” I received over the 4 days. The tattoos were very popular among the adult visitors, especially those who had previously had our vaccine.
I would strongly recommend the venue to scientific groups looking for somewhere different to do public engagement. I feel it was great value for money for 4 full days of engagement and the number of people engaged. It was also an easy sell. Our team was a perfect blend of clinicans, research assistants, post docs and students all of whom signed up as soon as I advertised it. It was busy a busy few days, but there was also plenty of time to explore and enjoy the food and music and other science on offer. We even picked up a new mascot along the way for future events.
Science Oxford Live Lab
On April 20th 2022 our Team was at Science Oxford's Headington home for with our Live Lab Experience 'The Wonders of Blood'. Young Scientists got a chance to learn about the different components of blood and what they do, how scientists seperate these components and have a go using real lab equipment to make their own seperated 'blood'. There were also games including 'Bigger or Smaller' and 'Antibody Fishing'. We will be back in future so keep an eye out for us on the Science Oxford website (https://scienceoxford.com).
History of Science Museum Vaccine Study Days 2022
On the 4th and 18th March 2022 the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group helped organise a vaccine study days for local GCSE and Sixth Form students at the Histroy of Science Museum. Students had a chance to hear keynote speeches and meet researchers involved in the development of the Oxford Covid-19 Vaccine.The aim of the day was to give students an honest behind the scences look into what it takes to develop a vaccine and show how a career in vaccine research can be for anyone.
Our wonderful hosts the History of Science Museum also introduced their 'Collecting Covid' initiative, ran vaccine hesitancy workshops and discussed the history of vaccination alongside their long running 'Alice in Typhoidland' exhibit.
Some student quotes from the day.
'I thought the rushed creation of vaccines made it less trustworthy but I see it differently now'
'I think the Covid vaccine is more safe now that I thought before because I know how it works'
'It was an informative fun day and has given me a lot of information about future careers’
HRH The Earl of Wessex pays virtual visit to Oxfordshire to meet faces behind county’s world-class innovation
In a special virtual event arranged by Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, HRH, The Earl of Wessex, met Oxfordshire business owners and leaders.
Devon Family’s Fundraising Initiative for Covid-19 Jenner Trials
Meet Rose (12), Gryffin (8) and Bryn (4) from rural Devon whose determination to reach their goal continues each day!
Like many families across the UK, and the world, they are unable to see their extended family, including elderly grandparents. Their mum, Laura Gordon Clark, wrote in to tell us that the realisation was beginning to dawn on her children that it would be a long while before they could give their grandparents a real ‘hug’.
Rose, Gryff and Bryn decided to use their daily exercise routine, to between them, run across a field the distance equivalent to that of the nearest grandparent in Hampshire (143.1 miles). After Laura explained to the children that a vaccine against corona virus would provide everyone the best chance of being able to safely hug their grandparents and loved ones once again, they decided to ask for sponsorship for the run, in support of the vaccine that is being developed at the Jenner Institute.
Weʼre raising money to Help Covid-19 vaccine development with Professor Sarah Gilbert and her team at Oxford University https://covid19vaccinetrial.co.uk/about. Support this JustGivingCrowdfunding Page.
Since the original plea, the total amount raised is now over £2,000! They have made it into their local paper, and been interviewed by BBC Radio Devon. The children now have only 24 more miles to go before they 'reach granny'!
Thank you to Rose, Gryffin and Bryn for your fantastic endeavour and contribution to science!
Science Exhibition 2018 | Monday 2 July - Sunday 8 July | London
(including the Jenner Institute: Designer Malaria Vaccines exhibit)
The malaria parasite is a shape-shifter, changing its surface coat to escape destruction by the human body. This depends upon a malaria protein called RH5 binding to a human protein called basigin on the surface of red blood cells. Unlike the other variable malaria surface proteins, RH5 does not vary, making it more easily recognised and destroyed. Jenner Investigators Sumi Biswas and Simon Draper have immunised human volunteers with RH5. Antibodies isolated from these volunteers prevent the parasite from invading red blood cells. At the RS Summer Science Exhibition they will show the public how it works, using games to detect the unchanging elements in a shape-shifting parasite, 3D models demonstrating of RH5 binding to basigin and antibodies and interactive maps to see the impact of vaccines on global health.
Research Laboratory Tours
As part of the NHS 70 week of events we would like to invite you to take a “behind the scenes” tour of some of our Research laboratories.
We are running 2 tours of the Vaccine Laboratories at the Jenner Institute, with a focus on Malaria vaccines.
Wednesday 4th July 2018 at the Jenner Institute, Old Road Campus Research Building
Tour 1: 13.00 for 45 min (FULLY BOOKED)
Tour 2: 14.00 for 45 min (6 PLACES STILL AVAILABLE)
The Jenner Institute was founded in November 2005 to develop innovative vaccines against major global diseases. Uniquely it focuses on diseases of both humans and livestock and tests new vaccine approaches in parallel, in different species. A major theme is translational research involving the rapid early-stage development and assessment of new vaccines in clinical trials.
The Jenner Institute has an extensive malaria vaccine programme and has conducted more than 60 clinical trials of new malaria vaccines in the UK and Africa. Making a vaccine against malaria is particularly challenging because the parasite has a very complex life-cycle, meaning that an effective vaccine has to induce a strong response involving different types of immune cells. The Jenner Institute is developing new and improved malaria vaccines in the laboratory and rapidly translating these new vaccines through testing in clinical trials.
European Researchers Night: 29 Sep 2017 across town. Further information for 2017 should be available on their website in due course:
Living well Oxford: May 2017
Oxford City Centre Living Well is a collaborative public engagement project between the Oxford AHSN, Science Oxford and the Oxford Health Experiences Institute to support the exploration and understanding of health and healthcare. The collaboration secured a grant from Wellcome to fund a “pop-up shop” entitled “Ageing: From Birth and Beyond” which was held in Templars Square Shopping Centre in May 2017, and involved working with seldom-heard communities to inform activity development and working with researchers to provide opportunities for public engagement and build capacity.
Visit from Dutch students: 11 Jan 2017
In January, a group of 15 students aged 21-24 years from the Netherlands visited Oxford to learn about our research. They were hosted by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccinology Group (OVG). Students took part in hands on activities, attended talks and a laboratory tour.
A recent, somewhat unexpected, public engagement by our vaccine development project manager Rebecca Ashfield:
Whilst on holiday recently in Grenada (aka the ‘Spice Isle’) I was chatting to the owner of the hotel, who volunteers at local schools on the Island. He suggested I give a talk about vaccines to year 5 and 6 students at Vendome primary school, located in the mountains near the capital Saint George’s. Naturally, I agreed. We discussed the importance of vaccines and how they work. The students (about 25 of them) were very interested to hear about vaccines being developed at the Jenner against Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya, which are all endemic in Grenada. Nearly all of the students had been infected with Chikungunya in 2015!
Oxford Open Doors 2016: Saturday 10th September 2016, 10am-4pm. NDM Research Building - Old Road Campus, Headington, Oxford OX3 7FZ.
On a very dreary and damp Saturday, numerous visitors made their way to our stall in the basement of the NDM building. Our researchers chatted to a variety of people about vaccine development and other topics related to infectious diseases. As usual, our "build a mosquito" was popular with children. Our new "Bacteriology Detectives" activities got people talking about their microbiome.
LIYSF visit, 4th August 2016
In August a group of top international students attending the London International Youth Science Forum visited Oxford and learned about our research during a visit co-hosted by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccinology Group (OVG). Students took part in hands on activities, attended talks and a laboratory tour.
The Oxfordshire Science Festival 2016
The Oxfordshire Science Festival ran from 23rd June to 3rd July 2016, in a new and exciting format. The Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group (OVG) were in the Town Hall on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th June. As well as discussing our challenge clinical trials which are part of the development of vaccines against Malaria and Typhoid, the visitors were able to take part in hands on activities, quizzes and games on vaccines and infectious diseases. A “snakes and ladders” game enabled players to learn about the complexities and challenges of the process of taking a vaccine from a theoretical concept through to clinical trials, while our youngest visitors enjoyed the popular “build a mosquito” craft. Budding scientists were given the opportunity to learn a few practical everyday laboratory techniques, such as how to use a pipette. We also surveyed public attitudes on vaccination through a written questionnaire which was also a good starting point for discussions about vaccines and vaccination.
The Times Cheltenham Science Festival 7-12 June 2016
On Tuesday 7th June there was a panel discussion on Genetically Modified Vaccines: Infection specialist Andrew Pollard and vaccinologists Adrian Hill and Bryan Charleston were in the Helix Theatre to discuss the importance of vaccines in animals and humans and the pros and cons of recent research. The Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group (OVG) were in the activity tents throughout Saturday, where visitors were able to see mosquito dissections and take part in hands on activities, quizzes and games on vaccines and infectious diseases.
The stall was a huge success! Around 1000 visitors came to chat to our researchers and find out more about vaccine development and other infectious disease-related sciences. Adults were very willing to answer our short questionnaire on the use of vaccines in public health. Children of all ages (as well as a few parents!) were keen to make use of our arts and crafts activities including "build a virus" and the ever popular "build a mosquito". A snakes and ladders game in which players could learn the practicalities of taking a vaccine from its theoretical conception through pre-clinical development, clinical trials and into the field, also proved very popular with young budding scientists, as did learning a few practical everyday laboratory techniques such as how to use a pipette.
The NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre – Open Day, 21 April 2016
The NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre held a public open day “Celebrating Medical Research in Oxford” on Thursday 21st April from midday to 5pm at the John Radcliffe Hospital. The event, at Tingewick Hall in the Academic Block, included interactive stands, lectures, debates and tours about the work of the Oxford BRC, which funds medical research across seven areas including cancer, diabetes, stroke and genetics.
We participated with a stand on malaria and typhoid challenge clinical trials, in collaboration with the OVG, with many hands-on props illustrating the clinical and laboratory activites surrounding clinical trials.
13th Annual Schools Science Conference, London, 20 April 2016
The 13th Annual Schools Science Conference: Science for Your Future was held at the University of Westminster, 115 New Cavendish St, London W1W 6UW.
The conference was for students in school years 9 - 11 and aimed to:
• Inspire studying science
• Demonstrate the importance of science in health and everyday life
• Showcase the exciting and rewarding careers open to those who study science
The day had sessions of interactive hands-on stands, workshops, lectures and presentations by the students. Most of the content was relevant to the school curriculum and the students could learn about the various routes of entry into different science careers.
Together, the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group (OVG) held an interactive stand on various vaccinology concepts. We had good discussions with the attending students and teachers and ran a survey on the student attitudes to vaccines.