Last Friday, for World TB Day, Warwick’s Fullam research group raised awareness of tuberculosis at Cannon Park Shopping Centre. The group had collaborated with local groups, St Peter’s Community Centre and Foleshill Women’s Centre, to produce their interactive stall with the message that this airborne disease is still a killer.
Alongside information leaflets and ‘history of TB’ posters, their stall featured balloons, stickers, cuddly microbes, and fluorescence microscopy pictures. One activity involved breathing into the ‘Big Mouth’ using a straw or face mask, which represented how effective face masks are at stopping the spread of TB. Leaflets gave key facts about TB locally (93 new TB cases in Coventry annually!) and globally while word search, colouring, and Twitter competitions amused many.
When prompted with questions, group members were very enthusiastic to discuss their laboratory projects. Postdoctoral researcher, Mohd. Syed aims “to determine the structure of a Mycobacterium tuberculosis protein, which would help us design more specific drugs against TB.” Meanwhile, PhD student, Magdalena Karlikowska is “interested in how M. tuberculosis utilises and metabolises different sugars to survive within a human host with the aim of discovering new drug targets.”
While we all enjoyed dressing up for the Twitter competition and musing over posters and leaflets, the group also learned more about how TB affects people in Coventry. Magdalena reflected that “it was particularly interesting when an elderly man came up to our stand and shared his experience of nursing TB patients 50 years ago.” Mohd. noted that “many of the elderly who came up to me knew someone who had died from TB, and were therefore interested in what we are doing here. Some even looked for a donation box but we were just raising awareness.”
The event raised awareness of the global and local effects of TB to over 300 people while demonstrating, through stories shared, the need for TB related research.