In September 2014, two pupils from Kingsdale Foundation School in South London spent a week as public engagement assistants in our NIHR cardiovascular biomedical research unit - cBRU. Saskia Cole and Annie Hines, both aged 15 years, worked alongside Julia Coffey, cBRU public engagement coordinator, to gain experience in bringing science and clinical research to public audiences.
Saskia and Annie’s job for the week was to find out about our research into the genetics of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a heart condition that affects the heart muscle causing it to weaken and pump less efficiently. To find out more about the research and why it is important to patients and families, they interviewed some of the researchers and clinicians involved.
At the end of the week, Saskia and Annie helped put on a display for patients, public and staff in the Royal Brompton reception area, showcasing what they had found out about this research.
The exhibit proved very popular and provided an opportunity for the pupils to show what they had discovered. Visitors to the display found out about the importance of mutations in Titin which plays an important role in heart muscle structure and function, and what we understand so far of their relevance in DCM patients.