It’s National Science Week! Last year a mind-boggling 1.3 million people participated in what has become one of Australia’s largest festivals.

National Science Week is 12-20 August and this year is celebrating its 20th birthday. With over 2000 events and activities on offer across the country, it’s a veritable nerd-vana!

Hobart, you can be a marine biologist for a day. Adelaide, get your hands on a 3D printer, or immerse yourself in virtual reality. Perth, catch a movie at the largest science film festival in the southern hemisphere. Ever wondered where your liver is or how high up your kidneys sit? Darwin, you can find out by putting internal organs into a mannequin.

Here at Children’s Cancer Institute, we had our own unofficial science fest last week. That’s when our research leaders got together at their annual science retreat – an opportunity to share science findings and brainstorm future research activities.

Drug Discovery Centre leader, Dr Greg Arndt, talks compound libraries at the 2017 science retreat
Drug Discovery Centre leader, Dr Greg Arndt, talks compound libraries at the 2017 science retreat

You might even say that it’s Science Week here every week. Among the cool and quirky things in our research are:

  • fridges and fumehoods with names. Yes, ‘Peter Pan’ and ‘Polly Pocket’ are lab fridges and ‘Hoodlum’ is a fume hood. And our fridges have fridge magnets on them – just like home.
  • milk powder. Among the more sciencey reagents in our labs, like antibodies and solvents, skim milk powder has pride of place. We use it to study proteins, for Western blots to block non-specific binding.
  • we’re exploring VR. On newly re-launched ABC TV science series Catalyst this week, virtual reality (VR) was the theme. We’ve dipped our toes in the VR waters by taking a walk inside a cancer cell.
A fume hood called 'Hoodlum'
A fume hood called 'Hoodlum'

Beyond this, there’s the everyday buzz of our researchers busy in the labs.  Everyone here is dedicated to achieving our purpose of saving all the lives of children with cancer and eliminating their suffering, and we believe that the only way to do it is through medical research. Thanks to medical research, today 8 out of 10 children will survive their cancer.

And (drum roll please) this National Science Week, we’re celebrating our blog’s first birthday. Here we get to share with you every week all the cool things we’re doing. We’ve notched up 77 posts so far. We hope you enjoy reading them.

So take a moment to subscribe to blog updates by jumping to the form at the top of this page. Plus, find out more about National Science Week 2017!

Top image: We’ve taken a virtual reality walk in a cancer cell to explore tumour microenvironments.



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