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This year the School for Primary Care Research hosted a science engagement activity at Oxford University’s Curiosity Carnival.

Image courtesy of Ian Wallman

Held on European Researchers Night (Friday 29 September 2017) the whole event aimed to ‘showcase the world-leading research taking place here at Oxford to a large and diverse audience through a programme that will include live experiments, debates, bite-sized talks and other activities.’

European Researchers' Night [is a] Europe-wide celebration of academic research for the public, supported by the European Commission.’

‘Knit a Neuron’ was the brain child of Dr Anne Cooke from the University of Bristol as ‘a collaborative, knitting, art project’. Since its inception in 2010, events have spread throughout the UK and beyond, as a fun and creative way to engage the public with science.

Researchers from across the University of Oxford came along to help knit neurons and talk science. Everything from basic neuroscience to treating mental health patients in primary care. 

Emma Palmer-Cooper and Karen Morecroft (SPCR) attended, along with Oxford University colleagues Anne Ferrey (Primary Care), Anna Mitchell (Experimental Psychology), Amanda Kerr (Population Health), Vasiliki Economopoulos (Oncology), Liz Tunbridge and Sally-Anne Vincent (Psychiatry),and Alison Brindle (Medical Sciences), and NIHR colleagues Polly Kerr (Oxford BRC) worked with members of the public to craft neurons and create a giant neural network in their ‘Make a Memory’ installation. 

Attendees attached their neurons to make new connections, or ‘memories’, and were able to take a neuron home to keep the memory alive. Members of the public from aged 4 years and upwards sat with scientists to learn about healthcare research, and how they can get involved in the future as participants or public contributors. 

The SPCR would like to thank Oxford University for holding the Curiosity Carnival, the scientists who came on the day, and the knitters behind the scenes who gave their time to make over 100 neuron cell bodies ahead of the event. 

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