Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

Getting to grips with biology at the Great British Bioscience Festival

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

louise-hughes

The Bioimaging Unit at Oxford Brookes exhibited their pioneering 3D models of Cells and Viruses at the Great British Bioscience Festival in Bethnal Green, London.

The Bioimaging Unit at Oxford Brookes exhibited their pioneering 3D models of Cells and Viruses at the Great British Bioscience Festival in Bethnal Green, London. The public festival, organised by the Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council (BBSRC) and held from the 14-17 November, attracted more than 6,500 visitors.Using the latest technology in microscopy and 3D printing, Oxford Brookes, supported by the BBSRC, displayed 3D models of cells, viruses and parasites, allowing the public to get hands on and experience biology in a new and engaging way. Dr Louise Hughes, who runs the Bioimaging Unit, recently won a New England Biolabs, Passion in Science award for her work using 3D printing to bring microscopy to the public, and therefore enabling blind and partially sighted people to, literally, get to grips with models of organisms.In October, at a special event in Tower Hamlets for the blind and partially sighted to learn from these models, one of the visitors said "It's fascinating. I want to know about science, so I listen to [the radio] a lot, and I try and listen to the science programmes and I find that my mind’s drifted. But this, because it’s so tangible and tactile, my concentration was kept."Dr Hughes explains the concept "Being able to see microscopic structure is a fundamental aspect of understanding biology, without it our understanding of cells and tissues would be far behind what we know today. Using 3D electron microscopy techniques I can image and model miniature structures and can convert these models into data that 3D printers can use and generate sculptures of these structures which are several million times their normal size."