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Public Engagement

Why engage?

Stem cell research has, and will, impact large parts of society, and consequently receives a large amount of public interest and scrutiny. As research leaders in this area, we believe our scientists play an important role in engagement with a wide variety of voices. We believe such encounters enhance the quality of the scientific questions we ask and help us build trust in research.

Read this piece by scientist Hans Clevers (Principal Investigator at the Hubrecht Institute for Developmental Biology and Stem Cell Research and the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology) on the importance of communicating stem cell science.

Find out more about our approach to engagement by viewing our slides from a recent Empowering Research seminar. Dr Rebecca Jones (Public Engagement Manager) and Dr Khalil Rawjii (Postdoc, Franklin Group) spoke about the motivations for engagement, the aims of the institute’s engagement strategy, and perspectives on taking part in engagement as part of your research career.


To ensure that public engagement remains a core part of our research culture, the Institute has developed a Public Engagement Strategy. The strategy directs our annual public engagement programme of centrally coordinated events, activities and training. It also lays out our four strategic aims, target communities and outcomes.

Download a copy of our Public Engagement Strategy 

PE Strategy Aim 1






PE Strategy Aim 2

Aim 1To reach beyond Cambridge to raise awareness about stem cells on a national and international level


Aim 2: To connect with local under-served communities and empower them to access stem cell research

PE Strategy Aim 3


PE Strategy Aim 4

Aim 3: To give patients a voice in our research and engagement activities that is valued and utilised


Aim 4: To create an open and engaged research culture


Dr Rebecca Jones, Public Engagement Manager
Greg Palmer, Public Engagement Coordinator
Dr Cédric Ghevaert, Academic Champion
Dr Kerry Leslie, Public Engagement Adviser

Steering Committee

Our steering committee provides academic oversight of our public engagement programme and allows us to respond to the needs and the interests of our scientific and external communities. The PESC meets four times a year to discuss current and future public engagement plans and pioneer ways to further embed public engagement at the Institute. 

Committee membership (2019/20):

Seed Fund

Our Public Engagement Seed Fund aims to support staff and students in developing new ways of engaging the public with stem cell research. All Institute members and affiliates may apply either as individuals or as a group. 

Funding: £500 - £2000

To discuss a potential idea and request an application form email the team at

Want some inspiration? Check out previous seed fund projects:

Project                             Year     Awardees Group
Stem Cell Robots       2015     Elisa Laurenti Laurenti
Stem Cell Beer 2017 Dan Bode and Tim Lohoff Wellcome PhD programme
Stem Cell Exchanges 2017 Mariana Alves and Katie Tremble Silva
4L Rally, Morocco 2019 Marion Perrin and Dan Bode Vallier and Kent
#blackgirlinscience 2019 Oluwaseun Ogundele Hendrich
Stem Cell Beer II 2020 Jamie McGinn, Ross McGinn, Nefeli-Skoufou Papoutsaki    Alcolea, Franze*, Winton*
Patient-led conference 2020 Alan Warren Warren*
Cord blood consultation 2020 Emily Calderbank Laurenti
Girl Guides STEM Day 2020 June Park Lee

* Affiliate Groups


Need advice on planning, delivering and evaluating public engagement activities? The MRC have created a set of webpages just for you. Click here to find out more.

Want to involve the public or patients in your research? Check examples of Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) from the NIHR here

Awards and Prizes

Cambridge Stem Cell Institute group leader Dr Elisa Laurenti was awarded a University of Cambridge Public Engagement with Research Award in 2017 for her Stem Cell Robots project. Elisa received a £1,000 prize presented by the Vice-Chancellor in an award ceremony at the the Old Schools.

Institute Public Engagement Prizes

Our Director presents a set of annual prizes for public engagement at our Institute Retreat to recognise i) an individual who has made an outstanding commitment to public engagement and ii) an excellent engagement project or programme. Previous winners are listed below.

Year Prize 


Director's remarks

2018 Personal Justyna Rak

'A stalwart presence at Institute PE events, Justyna has volunteered at every large public event we have done this year, including Cambridge Science Festival and BRAINFest, and has given numerous hours of time to engaging families, children and adults with stem cell science. In particular though, Justyna has been integral to the re-development of the Stem Cell Robots, working closely with Elisa Laurenti to come up with an exciting new blood stem cell board. She even took the robots home at Christmas so she could work on the new coding with her husband Jean-Charles! Through her work Justyna has helped the Institute reach out to new communities in Cherry Hinton where she resides, including a Saturday morning story session at the local Library (photo), and the Institute’s first contribution to Cherry Hinton Festival.'

Project Dan Bode and Tim Lohoff

'Regenerator, our stem cell brew, has been a sell-out success this year, as an exciting new partnership with Mark and Simon from Moonshine Brewery, who are here with us this evening. Driven by Tim and Dan’s love of beer and desire to reach a ‘non-traditional’ science crowd, the project launched at Cambridge Beer Festival in May 2017 and has now engaged over 500 people in face to face conversations, the majority of which with people who would never usually choose to attend science events. Countless more have drunk our ale and collected our beer matts and in the process, learnt about the science we do. The project continues to grow with the ongoing Regenerator on tour series touring Cambridgeshire pubs with science cafes, quizzes and comedy, and a potential new brew on the cards. We’re excited to see where this great partnership will go next!'

2019 Personal

Green Lab


For contributions to LifeLab in Peterborough

Cedric Ghevaert


For his charity concert in Newmarket