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SGDP celebrates 100 years of the MRC

Posted on 08/07/2013

In celebration of the Medical Research Council’s (MRC) 100th birthday, King’s College London’s MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry (SGDP) Centre joined other MRC establishments across the country and took part in an ‘Open Week’, which ran from Thursday 20 until Wednesday 26 June.

The MRC SGDP Centre open day took place on 26 June and was a double celebration as this year also marks the 10th anniversary of the Centre’s move into its purpose-built, JIF-funded building at the Institute of Psychiatry (IoP), King’s College London.

With an array of hands-on activities and experiences on offer, the event attracted hundreds of people looking to learn and explore science up close. Excited families with young children and local schools joined students and adults of all ages in finding out about what social, genetic and developmental psychiatry research involves.

Melissa Sollich, Business Manager for the centre said of the event: “We wanted to create a fun experience that really brought science to life. So we opened up our centre and had our scientists not only give demonstrations but also guide participants through experiments so that they could get a better understanding of our research and how their bodies and minds work.”

On the day some of the most popular activities included being connected to an EEG machine and learning to control a toy racing car using brain waves; exploring genetics by doing DIY extraction of DNA from real samples and building edible models of the double helix using sweets; and building a brain to discover its structures and their functions. Attendees were able to build a giant puzzle which showed an image created by a local artist illustrating twin research and the influences of “nature” and “nurture” on our risk or resilience. Sets of twins who have been part of longitudinal research at SGDP since they were born attended the Open Day and told visitors what it is like to contribute to science.

Professor Francesca Happé, Director of the MRC SGDP Centre, said of the Open day: “The interest from the local community has been amazing! Children who came with their schools, returned in the evening with their parents to show them all the exciting things they had done. We have been asked by many visitors to make this a yearly event.”

The celebrations were brought to a close with a special art exhibition, featuring a mix of original and existing work from artists who are influenced by and linked to medical research and mental health, and a preview screening of a TVNZ documentary about the pioneering work of SGDP scientists Professors Terrie Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi entitled ''The Real Science of Us: The 1000 Most Studied People in the World''.

Melissa concludes: “The atmosphere on the day was electric with children and adults, even our IoP colleagues, eager to find out more about what makes them ‘them’. Reaching out to our local community in this way has been a wonderful experience and we are looking at ways to continue the sharing and demystifying of science.”

For further information, please contact Louise Pratt, Public Relations and Communications Manager, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, email: louise.a.pratt@kcl.ac.uk or tel: 0044 207 848 5378

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