Open Day Sheffield institute for Translational Neuroscience

24 January 2014

On the afternoon of Tuesday 17th September 2013 the Sheffield institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN), welcomed over a 100 visitors during the Institute’s second annual public open day. Visitors included patients, carers, families as well as members of the public.

SITraN researchers were privileged to be given the opportunity to talk to patients and the public about the research they carry out into neurodegenerative diseases including Motor Neurone Disease (MND), Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), Parkinson’s Disease (PD), Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and Dementia.  The event began with a warm welcome from Professor Pamela Shaw, Director of SITraN and an update on the Institute’s pioneering MND research, followed by talks given by Dr Oliver Bandmann on Sheffield’s Parkinson’s Disease research and Dr Chris McDermott on how Sheffield is championing the development assistive technologies to improve the quality of life for patients with neurodegenerative disease such as the “Sheffield Support Snood” for patients suffering from neck muscle weakness.

During the afternoon our visitors were shown around a number of laboratory and interactive workstations by our PhD students. The workstations demonstrated some of the latest research taking place in the Institute including how animal models such as the Zebra Fish are used in MND and Parkinson’s research; how our new drug screening technology is helping us to identify potential new therapeutic molecules and how we use viral vector technology for gene therapy for MND and SMA. An interactive clinical studies workstation led by our research nursing team allowed patients and their families to learn more about assistive technologies and the clinical trials and studies being carried out in Sheffield such as how diaphragm pacing is now being trialled to support breathing in MND patients. The Translational Neuropsychology Group hosted a workstation designed to offer the public the opportunity to learn more about dementia research in Sheffield. Informative posters on risk factors, preventative measures and available help and treatment for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease were on display for visitors. A number of sample memory tests used for the assessment of memory difficulties were also demonstrated by trained members of the Group. Visitors were happy to talk about their experiences and thoughts about dementia and cognitive decline as people age.

We were delighted that representatives from the Sheffield Motor Neurone Disorders Research Advisory Group (SMND-RAG), the South Yorkshire MNDA branch and Alzheimer’s Research UK were able to join us to host informative stands and offer information and advice for our visitors. The talented SITraN team provided home baked cakes and refreshments as part of the afternoon with the “Brain Cake” baked by BMedSci student Aritri Mandal receiving many comments for its creativity.

During the afternoon Dr Oliver Bandmann was kindly presented with a cheque by Jennie Powell for £500 for Parkinson’s Disease research and a £180 was raised through cake donations which will be split between SITRaN, MNDA and Alzheimer’s Research UK charities. Both our visitors and researchers thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon feedback comments have included:

“We found it very interesting and informative. We were also taken with how passionate everyone felt about their work”

“We found the presentations helpful and informative. The cakes were an added bonus from your very talented staff!”

“It was a really good day and all of the staff at SITRAN gave an excellent tour and an easy to understand talk of the work done in each area of their area of research”.