Queen Mary Uni’s Whitechapel Centre of the Cell gets 100,000th visitor

100,000 visitors have now been to Whitechapel's unique Centre of the Cell

100,000 visitors have now been to Whitechapel's unique Centre of the Cell - Credit: QM Uni

The unique Centre of the Cell life sciences education complex reached a milestone on Friday with its 100,000th visitor.

A class of 30 Year-4 youngsters from Whitechapel’s Thomas Buxton Primary passed the milestone when they took part in an interactive Pod show about cell biology.

Queen Mary University’s cell-shaped science centre suspended above a real biomedical research laboratory at its Whitechapel campus was opened five years ago to inspire the next generation of scientists and healthcare professionals as well as improve public health in east London. Half the schools taking part are within a 10-mile radius of Whitechapel.

“Getting more young people interested in science is critical,” the centre’s director Prof Fran Balkwill said. “Today’s children are the cancer researchers, brain surgeons and computer scientists of tomorrow.”

Motivation for developing the centre was the population of the East End, an area of social deprivation and poor health, with a large immigrant population, he points out.

There was a need to inspire children into higher education and to put a science centre in an area traditionally not be expected to draw a large audience.

It has a strong relationship with Tower Hamlets schools, with four-out-of-five primary and all secondary schools having taken part in its activities.

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The centre has responded to audience demand with popular science shows and workshops, such as ‘Snot, Sick and Scabs’, ‘Teethtastic’ and ‘Spores, Sores and Sickly Bugs’, which are also taken to schools.

Centre of the Cell’s Katie Chambers said: “It was exciting to welcome the children of Thomas Buxton school to mark this milestone. We’ve achieved a huge amount in five years and inspired many children.”

The centre also offers work experience placements, revision and mentoring sessions, careers workshops and volunteering for young people through its Youth Membership scheme for those aged 14 to 19.

There are plans for new projects later this year including an interactive game which lets visitors build a tumour micro-environment and then attempt to destroy it with the latest immune therapies.