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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 on the importance of communicating stem cell science.

Engagement Strategy and Programme

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 strategic priorities, target communities and measures of success.

Click below to download a PDF copy of our public engagement strategy and most recent annual report.

CSCI PE Strategy cover    CSCI Annual Report 2017 cover

Click the following links to see our upcoming events or a list of past events and projects.

Public Engagement Steering Committee

Our Steering Committee provides academic oversight of the CSCI public engagement programme and allows us to respond to the needs and the interests of our scientific community. 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. 

Current members:

Dr Jamie Dorey

Public Engagement Manager

Jamie joined the Institute in May 2018. If you would like to find out more about our engagement projects, or are interested in developing a project of your own, please contact the team at .



Greg Palmer

Public Engagement Assistant

Greg joined the Institute in November 2017 as our Public Engagement Assistant. He will work with Becky to organise and promote the Institute’s public engagement events and resources.



Dr David Kent

Academic Champion

Recently, deep divisions have been revealed in our society on a global scale. These divisions are particularly evidenced by “surprise” results in elections and independence votes. Yet, political issues are not the only area where we fail to connect, and as scientists we must ensure that we regularly engage across all sectors of society. For me, this underscores the distinction between traditional science outreach (delivering information) and proper public engagement (understanding and interacting with public views). As the academic champion for public engagement at the CSCI, I hope to drive a culture change amongst academics to embrace, celebrate, and reinvent their role in shaping the future as publicly funded scientists.

David's research group focuses on blood stem cell biology and understanding how blood cancers develop from single cells. He has previously coordinated the UBC Chapter of the award winning science outreach organisation Let’s Talk Science.


Dr Thorsten Klampfl

Postdoc rep

Thorsten sits on our Public Engagement Steering Committee. He is a researcher in the lab of Professor Tony Green, our Institute's Director. 


Julia Spindel

PhD rep

Julia sits on our Public Engagement Steering Committee. She is a postgraduate in the lab of Professor Wolf Reik, an affiliate lab of the Stem Cell Institute, based out at Babraham Institute.


Dr Kerry Leslie

Wellcome Mentor

Kerry worked for the Research Councils for over fifteen years and was the Head of the RCUK Public Engagement with Research (PER) unit, leading on high-level policy and strategy. This included conception and production of the Beacons for Public Engagement, the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement, the PER Catalysts and the Schools University Partnerships Initiative. She led on the development of the Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research and the public engagement lens on the Vitae Researcher Development framework

Dr Joann Leeding 

Patient and Public Involvement

I work for the newly formed Improvement research institute (new name coming soon), as Head of Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPI/E). I have worked on the biomedical campus for the last 6 years in various roles that have involved communicating, engaging and involving the public in health research. My new role develops the engagement process further, and seeks to actively support public and patients to work alongside researchers to deliver, improve and shape healthcare improvement research.

I have attended many science festivals and community events and been involved in promoting STEM subjects to school children, including running a primary school science club. I’ve been part of team that presented at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition and I’ve successfully extracted DNA from a strawberry at London law firm glitzy cocktail evening which counts as one of the most bizarre evenings of my public engagement career!

Dr Hélène Doerflinger

The Gurdon Institute

Hélène Doerflinger is a biologist working on cell polarity at the Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK – Gurdon Institute. She has also always been interested in generating links between the public and scientists and after obtaining a Diploma in Science Communication (Birkbeck, London), she has been developing the Gurdon Institute’s Public Engagement programme. She is now a Research Associate in Daniel St Johnston’s group and the Public Engagement Coordinator for the Gurdon Institute.

Dr Rebecca Jones

Public Engagement Manager (currently on secondment)

Becky joined the Institute as Public Engagement Manager in March 2017, replacing Philippa Russell. She is responsible for creating a culture within the Institute of openess and dialogue between researchers and the public through developing and delivering the Institute's public engagement strategy. She is always on the look out for new opportunities to bring our researchers and members of the public together as part of our annual programme of public events and activities.

Dr Abi Herrmann

Communications & Research Strategy Manager

Our Public Engagement Seed Fund aims to support new and creative ways of sharing stem cell research with the public. From September 2018, we have increased the top amount you can initially apply for to £2000, allowing you to develop more innovative engagement ideas!

Funding: £100 - £2000

All Institute members and affiliates may apply either as individuals or as a group. If you have several ideas, you can submit more than one application. Want some inspiration, check out previous seed fund projects: Stem Cell RobotsStem Cell Beer and Stem Cell Exchanges.

Applications are welcome all year round. To discuss a potential idea, no matter how small, email the team at at any time.


Need advice on planning 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

Public Engagement Award Winners

Cambridge Stem Cell Institute group leader Dr Elisa Laurenti recently won one of six University of Cambridge Public Engagement with Research Awards. She received a £1,000 prize presented by the Vice-Chancellor in an award ceremony on 13 July 2017 in the Old Schools.

Find our more about Elisa's award winning public engagement work here.