Case study: Dr Ian Humphreys
Ian’s laboratory uses in vivo models of viral infection in combination with clinical samples to help to understand the mechanisms that regulate antiviral immunity.
Immune mechanisms that facilitate virus persistence
A significant aspect of Ian’s lab research to date has investigated the immune mechanisms that allow virus persistence within mucosal tissues and identify how they suppress antiviral immune responsiveness.
Regulation of Viral Pathogenesis
Ian’s research also studies how early cytokine responses influence antiviral immune responses and seeks to understand how these are regulated.
Primary and Secondary School children; general public; Charities dedicated to cytomegalovirus (CMV) research such as CMV Action.
Types of engagement
Inspiring, informing and educating others, building capacity to make informed choices and/or influence others.
Ian has over 16 years experience of undertaking public engagement with research and has received a mixture of both large and small grants for activities from research councils and the Wellcome Trust. Largely, Ian’s audience has involved primary and secondary school children.
Ian runs a series of activities in primary schools including microscopic analysis of immune cells, performing experiments and using Lego to teach people of all ages about complex immunological concepts in a simple manner.
Ian coordinates the immunology section of the highly successful Sciences in Health LIVE event promoting biomedical research to over 900 year 12 students. Participating students experience the laboratory setting and learn about harnessing the immune system to treat diseases and the different cutting edge technologies utilised in the lab.
Non-scientific members of the public (Involving People Network Members).
Types of involvement
Receiving from these ‘publics’ views, skills, knowledge and experiences that can be used to shape research and maximise its impact.
Ian regularly engages with the established Systems Immunity Research Institute Lay faculty which is made up of non-scientific members of the public with diverse backgrounds ranging from cancer survivors to philosophers.
Ian is motivated by research that will meet patient need and improve the health of society. Engagement with several key stakeholders are vital to fund new research and translate existing research into patient benefit.
Ian recognises how it is increasingly important to the University and to funding bodies that researchers demonstrate how they will reach non-academic audiences and evidence the delivery of research impact.
As a laboratory, Ian feels they learn a great deal from engaging with the public and this helps shape the direction of the research.
Ian describes “A major advantage for us doing public engagement is to maximise the impact of our research – by communicating what we do through media and face-to-face interactions, we can help people understand what research we do and why we do it. In the case of some of the viruses that we work on, this can also inform behaviour of people so to minimise virus spread between people."
Ian believes that engaging with the public makes you challenge your own ideas and strategies regarding the research.
“As a laboratory, we perform basic research. Engaging with the public makes you present your own research in a way that anyone can understand and easily appreciate why it is important. As a basic researcher, this ensures that you never lose sight of the ‘bigger picture’ and how your research can evolve as efficiently as possible to help people.”
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Dr Ian Humphreys - public engagement case study
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