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Patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE) is an essential part of designing and conducting research, and translating findings into public benefit, so it’s a major priority for Oxford immunologists. Here are some examples of the work currently underway in this area.

young girl playing with castanets
Photo Credit: Science Museum Group © The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum. Pictured: Participants of T4TM’s ‘Viral Rhythms’ activity at the Science + Industry Museum ‘Get Curious’ Learning programme.

Thanks for the Memories (T4TM) is a 3-year project supported by the Wellcome Trust that explores interactions between viruses, vaccines, immune memory … and music.

What’s the aim?

Our immune systems don’t just battle the current disease that they are exposed to: they form memories in response to past infection or vaccination that help to protect us against future disease. This project asks how immune memory can inform musical composition – and how the creation and performance of music can, in turn, offer a new perspective on scientific practices and their impact on our lives. T4TM brings together the worlds of immunology and music for researchers, composers, secondary schools students, and the public; allowing these diverse communities to share their own perspectives and learn from each other.

Who’s involved?

The project is led by University of Oxford’s Prof. Paul Klenerman and Royal Northern College of Music’s artist-in-residence Dr Zakiya Leeming. They are combining their scientific and musical expertise to explore the subject of immune memory in two strands to this project: a T4TM Schools Project, engaging with secondary school students in Manchester and Oxford, and a T4TM Opera by Leeming, performed for the wider public.

What will happen?

T4TM Schools

The project brings multidisciplinary exploration into secondary schools in Oxford and Manchester, working with year 9 pupils to:

  • Uncover the history and science of vaccines – from the early pioneering work of figures such as Lady Mary Wortley Montague and Edward Jenner, to the cutting-edge challenges of contemporary vaccine science, pupils will receive a solid foundation on which to build KS4 work on the immune system and viruses.
  • Create their own musical response to immune memory – whether they have any prior musical experience or not, pupils will be guided by Leeming to compose their own piece of music inspired by the history and science of immune memory.

Students’ musical compositions will come to life at the end of the project: performed by musicians from the Royal Northern College of Music and the University of Oxford.

T4TM Opera

The project will culminate in the premiere of a new chamber opera in 2025.  Created by Leeming and Klenerman together with mezzo soprano Rosie Middleton, the opera will bring together song and storytelling to explore memory: both immune and cultural, through the pioneering work of Lady Mary Wortley Montague.

Why participate?

For school students

When you’re infected or vaccinated, your immune system is able to ‘remember’ how to treat the disease in the future. You might think of science and music as being completely separate parts of your school life – but this project will help you to explore the links between the two.

For teachers

T4TM offers curriculum enrichment across science, music, and history, allowing your year 9 pupils to be inspired to discover new connections across their work, supported by the University of Oxford and the Royal Northern College of Music. But more than this, the work with T4TM will build a strong foundation for your pupils’ work on the immune system in KS4 Science.

For researchers

The scientific research underpinning this project investigates immune memory and vaccination; the project expands to examine how musical composition and performance can be informed by, and in turn inform, scientific research. The project is an opportunity to introduce the wider community, including school pupils, to these multidisciplinary perspectives.

For musicians

Musicians taking part in both the T4TM Schools performance and the T4TM Opera have the chance to create their own musical compositions, and share their feelings and experiences on the topic through an innovative cross-disciplinary investigation of science and music, a meeting of the University of Oxford, the Royal Northern College of Music, and schools: a multidisciplinary collaboration bringing together diverse communities.

 

If you would like to get in touch with the T4TM team, please contact project facilitator rachel.hindmarsh@stcatz.ox.ac.uk.

Bottles of beer labelled with names of vaccines

Sean Elias visited the Green Man Festival science area along with a bioreactor and some ‘vaccine beers’ to spark discussion about vaccine manufacturing. Sean says ‘I would strongly recommend the venue to scientific groups looking for somewhere different to do public engagement. I feel it was great value for money for 4 full days of engagement and the number of people engaged. It was also an easy sell. Our team was a perfect blend of clinicians, research assistants, post docs and students all of whom signed up as soon as I advertised it. It was busy a busy few days, but there was also plenty of time to explore and enjoy the food and music and other science on offer.’

Adults and children enjoying the Live Lab.

The Jenner Institute and Pandemic Sciences Institute public engagement team have frequently visited Science Oxford's Headington home for with their Live Lab Experience 'The Wonders of Blood'. Young scientists get a chance to learn about the different components of blood and what they do, how scientists separate these components, and have a go using real lab equipment to make their own separated 'blood' along with other rolling accompanying activities.