National Centre for Mesothelioma Research at the Great Exhibition Road Festival

Words By Maija Maskuniitty, NCMR Centre Manager.

“The National Centre for Mesothelioma Research (NCMR) was delighted to take part in the first ever Great Exhibition Road Festival on the last weekend of June 2019.

The Festival – a celebration of curiosity, discovery and exploration – was attended by more than 45,000 members of the public to explore and learn about the research carried out at Imperial College London. It was therefore an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of mesothelioma and asbestos, and to share NCMR’s mesothelioma research with the public.

We teamed up with Mesothelioma UK, Royal Brompton and Royal Marsden Hospitals, Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK, and mesothelioma patients and carers to put together interactive activities which explored aspects of mesothelioma and asbestos. Most people who visited our festival stand – called How does asbestos cause cancer? – did not know what mesothelioma is or how it’s caused, and many were surprised by how widely asbestos is still used in some countries. We therefore tried to ensure that the people we spoke
to left the festival well informed.

Our activities included a timeline exploring the history of asbestos in the UK – based on the blog post The Asbestos Story: a tale of public health and politics – and an audio installation called My Mesothelioma Story with interviews from wonderful patient and carer volunteers. The interviews will soon be available to listen online on our website. Festival attendees also had the opportunity to examine healthy lung tissue and mesothelioma tissue through a microscope, and Meso UK’s Tommy the Torso was a big hit especially with the younger audience.

For a disease like mesothelioma awareness is vital, and events such as the Great Exhibition Road Festival offer a great opportunity to spread the word about mesothelioma and asbestos. Huge thanks to all our collaborators –
it was wonderful to work together for this important cause, and we look
forward to more public engagement events in the future.”