The MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit

Demonstrating the brain

The MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit (IEU) uses genetics, population data and experimental interventions to look for the underlying causes of chronic disease. From 2013-17 we worked with their Public Engagement and Communications Associate to encourage discussion and debate around their health research with public audiences.

We developed a varied and exciting programme of engagement activities, from partnering with UK wide festivals, chairing public discussions, facilitating community initiatives to engaging with local schools.

Health: Create, Debate, Explore

Community group exploring ideasWorking in partnership with the University of Bristol’s Elizabeth Blackwell Institute and the SPHERE project, this aimed to build an enduring relationship between Bristol communities – such as support groups, community organisations and charities – and the health researchers based in the three units.

We took research in the early stages of development and invited public groups to contribute personal stories into the research process with the intention of informally shaping the research process. The hope was that this would be a mutually beneficial experience for researcher and publics and would make our research more accessible and functional for a public audience.


DATA MINE installation at Einstein's GardenHaving a presence at a variety of festivals enabled us to showcase the IEU’s research in different cultural contexts and increased our reach to public groups. 

In 2016 we had a presence at Green Man music festival’s Einstein’s Garden. Through a collaboration with designer Philippa Thomas, we created DATA MINE, an interactive installation exploring the human genome. The aim was to make the genome more understandable, and featured a large structure filled with over 9000 ribbons. Read more about DATA MINE in Public Engagement Stories.

We also took part in the annual MRC Festival of Medical Research.Our event ‘Open House at the MRC IEU’ worked with school groups and took them through a series of interactive activities to engage them with the study of epidemiology and the interplay between genetics, data analysis and environmental influences.

Schools Engagement

We developed a series of workshops and engagement activities for GCSE and A Level students at local schools, with the aim of inspiring the next generation of health and computational researchers.

Through the workshops we showcased the career paths of researchers who come to the MRC IEU from diverse backgrounds including mathematics, computer sciences, statistics and medicine, enabling us to present pupils with alternative routes into careers in health sciences.