As part of divisional public outreach efforts, OCDEM welcomed 20 Diabetes UK-affiliated visitors on Tuesday 7 November. The visiting group consisted of fundraisers, people with lived experience of diabetes and four Diabetes UK staff members. For decades, Diabetes UK has been a significant supporter of the research output generated by OCDEM. The visitors were therefore keen to understand how and where OCDEM research takes place, and to meet some of the researchers behind that work. Professor David Hodson, Robert Turner Professor of Diabetic Medicine, and Dr Daniela Nasteska, Diabetes UK RD Lawrence fellow, were pleased to be the main organisers on the OCDEM side and ensured the day went smoothly and was enjoyable for all involved.
During the visit, the group had a chance to learn more about OCDEM from Professor Hodson’s opening talk and, later on, visited several research areas. They observed experiments and talked to researchers in the experimental laboratories, visited the clinical research unit and learned about the types of studies being conducted at OCDEM and, finally, had rare access to the human islet isolation unit where they watched a video of islet-harvesting procedures for transplantation purposes.
© Diabetes UKImages of a pancreatic islet with blood sugar-regulating hormone insulin in orange and glucagon in pink, while the green shows a major type 2 diabetes target – GLP1 receptor.
The day concluded with the visitors sharing their impressions of the visit with OCDEM researchers – for many of the guests, this was their first in-person experience of research labs and hearing directly from researchers. Dr Jessica Brown, Research Communications Officer at Diabetes UK, summarised the group’s impressions from the day:
We’re incredibly grateful to the OCDEM team for putting on such a brilliant tour of their labs and facilities. It means a huge amount to our volunteers to see in person how their support can make a difference to research, and how the dedicated team is working tirelessly to improve the lives of people with diabetes. On behalf of Diabetes UK, thank you to everyone involved for giving up their time, sharing their enthusiasm, answering plenty of pertinent questions, and organising such a seamless afternoon.
After the visit had concluded, Professor Hodson reflected that it was an ‘entirely enjoyable day, made possible by all at OCDEM coming together to make it happen’. Dr Nasteska further shared that it was a ‘rare opportunity to meet the people we do our work for and show them how we do it’.