A Visit by group of dentists and aligned professionals to JIC – 21st January 2014

A Visit by group of dentists and aligned professionals to JIC – 21st January 2014

by Steve Rawsthorne

Steve Rawsthorne

Blog post by Steve Rawsthorne.
Steve hosted the visit alongside Dee Rawsthorne and Prof. Mervyn Bibb.

While inspiring young minds at a Year 9 Careers event at Sprowston High School in October 2013 it turned out that I also inspired a female dentist, Hoda, who was there to inspire the pupils!  Following a brief conversation we agreed that as she worked amongst a group of like-minded dental professionals, she would see if there was an interest in having a visit to JIC.

After exchanges of emails it was clear that there was a good level of interest from the group and so I worked with Dee Rawsthorne to set up a programme.  Given the background I thought that antibiotics would be a suitable topic from a science perspective and Mervyn Bibb happily volunteered to provide a talk.

The event went ahead with 11 visitors (dentists, a pharmacist and a radiologist) who received an overview of the John Innes Centre from me, a great talk by Mervyn including his enlightening Quality Street and Celebrations box analogies of challenges in antibiotics (!), and a tour of JIC’s facilities with Dee and I.

This was a group full of questions about a breadth of topics that were covered during their visit.  After over 2 hours they left JIC amazed and inspired, many having been past the site on several occasions without realising the scale and scope of our enterprise.  Their organiser’s thank you email summed it up:

“Thank you once again to yourself, Dee and Professor Bibb for such a fascinating evening last night. It really was brilliant and you managed to inspire us all. Many thanks from everybody.”

This was a really good engagement with an informed public who are very likely to pass on the knowledge gained from their visit to JIC.


An interesting aside to the visit arose from a question that one of them posed having learned that epigenetics is an important area of our research, where our findings from plants are relevant to studies of human cancer.  The question was do plants get cancer?  My answer was that they don’t, based on whether the disease spreads.

Dee Rawsthorne tweeted the question sparking off a lot of comment where the consensus from within the scientific community is that they do but that it doesn’t spread throughout the tissues because of the cell walls with “Doonan J. H., Sablowski R.(2010) Walls around tumours – why plants do not develop cancer Nature Reviews Cancer 10 794-802” cited as a key reference!  I’ll be passing that on to Hoda.

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