Research Enrichment – Public Engagement: people we've funded

This scheme supports Wellcome grantholders to engage the public with their work. 

It launched in 2017 and replaced the Provision for Public Engagement within Research Grants scheme. 

Here are some of the people we've funded.


Professor Matthew Higgins

University of Oxford

Structural studies of the host-parasite interactions at the heart of malaria pathogenicity


We intend to take our research on tour with an interactive stall at science fairs. Our first exhibition will be the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in July 2018, which is visited by more than 13,000 people each year. We will develop interactive screens for the stall, and ensure that it can be updated over time. We will also attend the Oxford Science Festival in 2019 and 2020 and apply to attend other major science festivals.
The interactive stall will be supported by digital content, including a 2-minute video describing our approach to malaria vaccine design which will be posted on YouTube. We will also develop an interactive vaccine game where players can allocate health budgets and see the effect on the prevalence of malaria. 

The stall and our digital content will widen the accessibility of our research into malaria vaccination.

Dr Felicity Boardman

University of Warwick

Pre-conception genetic screening for conditions of uncertain or variable prognosis: social and ethical implications


We will develop a multi-media art installation with artist Esther Fox based on our research findings. The installation will include an immersive soundscape capturing the complexities of genetic screening using voiced text from interviews and an interactive computer game that navigates players through life-like scenarios relevant to genomics.
Inclusivity and accessibility are of paramount importance given the centrality of the views of people with disabilities to our research. We will increase accessibility by collaborating with digital theatre and media company STAMP to create a touring installation. This will be exhibited at science festivals in the UK and other public venues. We will film the touring installation and conduct short interviews with attendees. We will post the film online with links to websites of relevant charities and organisations, such as Genetic Alliance UK. We will also submit the film to Disorder, the Rare Disease Film Festival.

We will evaluate the impact and reach of the installation and film using interviews, written and electronic feedback and social metrics.

Professor Maureen Kelley

University of Oxford

In their own voices: vulnerabilities and abilities of women, children and families in health research


REACH is a collaborative study looking at the ethical inclusion of vulnerable women, children and families in research. We can now use our early findings to spark wider debate about the ethical issues arising from research in the context of poverty and gender inequality. 

We propose a series of public engagement workshops and events in our four study countries that will help us engage with the public, community activists, humanitarian health workers, leaders in women’s and children’s health and community advisory boards. We will use case reports and videos to prompt discussion. We hope to learn from participants about what ethical research, vulnerability and empowerment mean to them, and their concerns about research and ways we can respond to these concerns. A video of the workshops will be used to share insights with researchers, universities, funders, ethics committees and other stakeholders in global health.

These activities will offer an opportunity for stakeholders to shape the debate about research ethics in their communities and beyond as well as bringing public engagement training to researchers in developing countries.

2013-2017 (Provision for Public Engagement)

Professor Andrew Bush

Imperial College London

Pulmonary epithelial barrier and immunological functions at birth and in early life - key determinants of the development of asthma?

Science Strategic Award 


We will work with Okido, the arts and science magazine for children, to produce a lung-health character that will feature in three print projects (a magazine, board game and activity books), three digital projects (an app, a game and an animation) alongside a large-scale family festival including games and workshops. These are primarily aimed at the under-fives who are participating in a lung-health research study and their families. We will actively engage them in lung anatomy and function, lung infection and immunity, and the environmental impact on lung health. We will also distribute these projects to a wider public audience. 

Visit the Breathing Together website

Dr Nicholas Casewell

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Developing a universal antivenom to treat snake venom-induced consumption coagulopathy

Sir Henry Dale Fellowship


My research focuses on snakebite and antivenom treatments and this programme of public engagement will raise the profile of the health issues in this area. The programme will involve public events and discussions held at zoos and parks, as well as at local schools and Café Scientifiques. There is also a planned BBC documentary filmed in sub-Saharan Africa, and a short animation on the key points about snakebite disease and its treatment. We hope to engage a broad public audience in the issues around antivenom, its use and availability, particularly highlighting the influence of current research on people who have been bitten by a snake.  

Why snakes and people should mix - watch a short video

Dr Daniel Davis

University College London

Lost & Found: engaging with narratives of ageing


Long-term Information and Knowledge on Ageing (LINKAGE) Camden was established to understand the determinants and consequences of acute and chronic illness on cognitive and functional outcomes in older people. It tracks a population-representative sample aged over 70 years, prospectively following them in health and social care over a period of two years. 

We will create opportunities to include the qualitative narratives that are emerging from the LINKAGE study as a substrate for an installation exhibition (Lost & Found). Participants will act as storytellers, influencing our understanding of the personal and societal effects of ageing, and the public discourse on what it means to grow older.

Professor Charles Fernyhough

Durham University

Hearing the Voice

Collaborative Award in Humanities and Social Science 


The public engagement strand of Hearing the Voice 2, led by Project Co-Director Dr Angela Woods, will pursue five major initiatives to encourage discussion about voice-hearing: a forum theatre production, a series of documentaries, a partnership with the Edinburgh International Book Festival, an online text-based game and a large-scale exhibition. Voice-hearers are key partners in the design, development and delivery of these projects, which aim to enlarge public understandings and challenge stigmatising misconceptions of hearing voices.  

Visit the Hearing the Voice website

Professor Russell Foster

University of Oxford

Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute

Science Strategic Award 


Sleeping Sense is a public engagement project in collaboration with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in three primary schools and two secondary schools in Oxfordshire. It will demonstrate the creative nature of science and the rigour involved in music, and it will show that science and the arts can have a lot in common.

School children will be informed about the principles of sleep and circadian neuroscience through talks and workshops coordinated by Dr Chris Harvey and delivered by a team of sleep scientists. Alongside this, members of the orchestra will teach basic concepts of composition, using the scientific principles as inspiration for the music. Pupils will gather data about their own sleep and how it affects their performance measured in reaction times, and design their own experiments to assess what other factors might play a role in this. The project will culminate in a public event at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford, where scientists will discuss sleep and present the pupils’ data, and the orchestra will play pieces composed by the pupils. 

Sleeping Sense at the Sheldonian Theatre - watch a short video

Dr Jennifer Gamlin

University College London

Structural vulnerabilities and maternal health among Mexican indigenous populations

Research Fellowship in Humanities and Social Science


We will build a receptive and trusting environment to talk about reproductive and maternal health with Huichol communities in Mexico who are often suspicious that research organisations do not respond to their health and social problems. I will work with a trilingual anthropologist who speaks Huichol, Spanish and English, a Huichol health worker and a local not-for-profit organisation to form an art collective that will train local women to create modern textile products and provide a space to engage in open discussions about reproductive and maternal health while helping the women generate their own income.

A participatory arts process will allow the women to express their health concerns with support from artistic consultant Susie Vickery who will draw on her experience of participatory art in low-middle income settings, including Dekha Undekha. The resulting artwork will be presented at a launch event to which stakeholders will also be invited, and displayed permanently in the community.  

Professor Ian Goodfellow

University of Cambridge

Infectious science engagement activities in post-Ebola Sierra Leone


After experiencing the Ebola epidemic first-hand, we realised that most people did not know what a pathogen was, and fear and misbeliefs hampered the control of the outbreak. There is a clear need for science engagement and we can provide it. School children are interested in finding out about Ebola and other pathogens and we need to broaden their awareness of infectious diseases beyond Ebola and engage their curiosity in science.

We want to engage young people in Sierra Leone in the science of the infectious diseases that are all around them. We will empower young people with the understanding that if they know how infectious diseases spread, they can prevent infections and improve the health of those around them. In addition, we will make young people excited about science and encourage them to choose scientific studies and careers.

Professor Muzlifah Haniffa

Newcastle University

Functional heterogeneity of human mononuclear phagocytes in health and disease

Senior Research Fellowship in Clinical Science 


This collaborative project includes a series of workshops that engage researchers, the public and digital artists, leading to the production of a multimedia exhibition and performance that explore the creative representations of biological data; the data will be produced during my research on how certain types of cells regulate human immune responses. 

Getting inside the skin of art and science - watch a short video

Dr Adam Kucharski

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Immunity dynamics and epidemiology of cross-reactive pathogens

Sir Henry Dale Fellowship 


This funding will be used to develop a five-year programme of activities for secondary schools in areas that have limited engagement with scientific research. The programme will allow school pupils to explore interdisciplinary topics such as epidemiology, public health interventions, data ethics and mathematical modelling. Approaches include interactive class workshops and pupil-led projects, engaging with parents and other people in the community. We will test out new public engagement approaches and generate resources and engagement activities that are relevant to the science curriculum. 

Professor Julie Makani

Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Tanzania

The role of anaemia and fetal haemoglobin in sickle-cell disease: clinical epidemiology to establish the evidence base for interventional trials of blood transfusion and hydroxyurea

Intermediate Fellowship in Public Health and Tropical Medicine 


The goal is to develop a communications and public engagement strategy about sickle cell disease in Tanzania by training researchers and health professionals to engage with the media and the public, and supporting journalists who are writing about science; this will be done through a series of ‘train the trainer’ workshops,  events, radio interviews and blogs. We will also identify effective engagement methods using formative evaluation and focus groups with members of the public, engagement professionals and researchers.  

Professor Judy Orme

University of the West of England

Integrating Upstream Decision-Making and Human Health Outcomes into Citizen Engagement (I-NUDGE)

Our planet, Our Health  


We will engage citizens in Bristol by disrupting physical and digital public space with interactive play zones and street art in order to start conversations about public health decision-making. This will enable people to access the evidence on how urban development affects health, to understand the risks, and to feed back their preferences to city developers.

Professor Vikram Patel

Harvard University, USA

PRIDE (PRemIum for aDolEscents)

Principal Research Fellowship 


This project will produce community engagement events, capacity building workshops and a national social media campaign and website with the aim of engaging adolescents and young people in an open dialogue on mental health. The project will feature interactive media – photography, film, posters, blog articles, poetry and art – that highlight the ideas and opinions of the young people and experts involved in this project. 

Visit the It’s OK To Talk website

Dr Alanna Skuse

University of Reading

It is no small presumption to dismember the image of god: selfhood and the altered body

Research Fellowship in Humanities and Social Science  


We will develop a series of activities combining round-table discussions with interactive performance pieces to engage audiences with the topic of body alteration and identity. The target audience are social facilitators aged 18-40, LGBTQ+ people and other marginalised groups. We have asked a number of people to participate such as: CN Lester, a transgender rights activist and scholar of early modern music; Martin O’Brien, a performance artist working on representations of disability; visual artist Adam James who was responsible for the Art Inspiring Change project; Richard Wistriech, a scholar and musician specialising in early modern music; Kate Allen, a visual artist specialising in widening participation projects; Mind the Gap, a theatre group that focuses on issues of disability and actors with disability; and Mary Lewis, an archaeologist working on medieval paleopathology. These activities will be inspired by events such as Wellcome Lates and Café Scientifique in London and Bristol. 

Philippa Smith

London Metropolitan Archives

Conserving and opening up access to the Foundling Hospital medical records

Research Resources Grant


We will design a programme to promote the material held in the London Metropolitan Archives to encourage a wide range of people to use the records and share experiences and ideas, and to raise awareness of individual collections of special interest in the archives. There is a particular focus on engaging new audiences and widening access to the archives. 

The adult learning programme will appeal to a more general audience by giving themed talks on aspects of the records and raising awareness for existing and new users. There will be a study day that will explore the themes of young people and women’s health, welfare and well-being. There will also be activities for schools. We hope to develop resources which can be used by teachers and students to ensure ongoing engagement with the archives in the future. 

Professor Guy Thwaites

University of Oxford

Vietnam Initiative on Zoonotic Infections

Africa and Asia Programmes


This will build on the Health in the Backyard project which was funded with an International Engagement Award. I will extend the model to other cohort communities in the Vietnam Initiative on Zoonotic Infections in Dak Lak and Ba Vi district and support a collaboration with the provincial Department of Health Education in Dong Thap. 

We will pilot communication and engagement methods such as forum theatre, science café community discussions and public viewings of community films.  Expected outcomes will be: the engagement and empowerment of research communities; increased insights into perceptions of risk and how much risk people are willing to take, and behaviours that may expose people to zoonotic infections; and capacity building for researchers and local government partners to better engage with communities.

Find out more about Health in the Backyard

Professor Gregory Towers

University College London

Characterisation of innate immune DNA sensing and viral evasion strategies

Senior Research Fellowship in Basic Biomedical Science 


We wish to spark curiosity and empower children and adults to ask questions about science and follow their own interests in the area. We will engage school students through interactive workshops and visits to the laboratory. We will also develop activities that teachers can use and host on a web platform along with annual public events for the local community. Evaluation methods will include feedback from teachers and lab mentors, graffiti walls and iPad surveys. 

The programme aims to build understanding of virology science in students and adults, as well as an appreciation of the value of public engagement and improved communication skills for researchers.

Find out more about the Towers Lab's public engagement work

Dr Joanna Vearey

University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Healthy movement in southern Africa: towards improved responses to communicable diseases

Investigator Award in Humanities and Social Science 


We will develop an 18-month programme to support experiments in creative public engagement activities in collaboration with diverse interest groups to promote the roles of research and new knowledge addressing migration and health in Southern Africa (SA). Audiences will include civil society, artists, policy makers, practitioners and service providers, media, migrant groups and migrant-hosting communities. We will establish new collaborations to support innovative and creative approaches to public engagement, funding five three-month fellowships for professional artists based in SA that explore the role of art as public engagement, engaging with different people through a range of creative engagement activities. 

Proposed activities include interactive conversations, arts-based workshops, community screenings, citizen journalism, webinars and Twitterthons. In addition, funds will support an interactive publication to enable two-way engagement and interaction with multiple audiences, including a guide for schools and public and online exhibitions. 

Visit the Migration and Health Project Southern Africa

Dr Ako Victorien Constant Edi

Centre Suisse De Recherches Scientifiques, Ivory Coast

Building youth’s capacity in Petit Ouaga on strategies to reduce or avoid malaria: The YouthProfile Project


The YouthProfile Project will progressively build youth’s capacities in communities in southern Cote d’Ivoire, where malaria vectors are resistant to available insecticides. The project aims to improve knowledge about malaria control in young people and strengthen their capacity. Activities under this project will complement ongoing research for greater impact, and they will inform future research projects with young people.