The Quadram Institute at the Norwich Science Festival

16th October 2018

The Norwich Science Festival is back and bigger than ever, with a packed programme of activities for all.

Scientists working in and with the Quadram Institute will be there, talking about some of our exciting new research in food, health and microbiology. Come along to find out more about the mysteries of the microbiome, fantastic future foods and the microbial world.

These are just some of the hundreds of events taking part during the two weeks of the Norwich Science Festival.

Thursday 25th October 

How clean is your house? 

Part of Chemistry Day in the Explorium, The Forum, Norwich

  • 10am to 4pm

We are living in a microbial world, surrounded by trillions of microscopic organisms. Most of these are harmless, some can even be beneficial, but modern life seems to focus on battling the small proportion of bugs that can make us ill. And even though we are winning these battles to beat bad bugs in our homes, are we losing the war against antimicrobial resistance?   

Join microbiologist Mark Webber and his team from the Quadram Institute to find out more about where microbes are living in our houses. Learn more about the importance of choosing the right cleaning product, and whether antibacterial products live up to the hype. 

Mark and his team are studying how bugs develop resistance to antibiotics. Without effective antibiotics, infections will become impossible to treat. Explore the cunning ways bacteria become resistant by blasting biofilms. And see if you can discover natural sources of new antimicrobials from some surprising sources. 

Evolution in Action

  • 4:30pm-5:30pm
  • The Forum Auditorium

As well as hands-on activities in The Forum, Mark Webber will be giving a talk at 4:30pm. “Evolution in Action: How Do Bugs Become Resistant to Drugs?” will explain the evolutionary processes by which bugs can adapt and evolve to become resistant to drugs, and illustrate some of the most problematic examples of current ‘superbugs’. 

The talk will also introduce some of the relevant ongoing work from the Quadram Institute in Norwich into antimicrobial resistance, and will show how the outcomes from exposing bugs to drugs differ depending on the state the bacteria are in. 


Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate, Green Tea and Broccoli

  • 3:00pm-4:00pm
  • The Forum Auditorium

Jenna Helleur will talk about food bioactives – natural compounds found in many fruits ang vegetables that are known to induce positive health benefits. Jenna will will discuss food bioactives in foods such as broccoli, green tea, cocoa, red grapes, red wine and kale, in the context of improving health and preventing disease in the cardiovascular system, cancer and diabetes onset.


Science in the Cafe: Biomedical Ethics

  • 7:30pm-9:30pm
  • Norwich Cathedral

An opportunity to join a stem cell research scientist and a medical clinician to tackle such ethical questions as: Should we keep brain-dead babies alive? Should we make vaccination against certain diseases compulsory? How should we make the most appropriate use of screening in pregnancy?

Professor Mark Wilkinson is a Consultant at the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital specialising in Histopathology. He teaches undergraduates at UEA Medical School and has a particular interest in research ethics. He is also Director of the Norwich Research Park Biorepository, which is a collaboration between the Quadram Institute, UEA and the NNUH.

Professor Chris Higgins is a Microbiologist/Geneticist and was Vice Chancellor of Durham University between 2007 -2014. He was previously the director of the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre and Head of Division in the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London.


Friday 26th October

Food and Health 

Part of Health Day in the Explorium, The Forum Norwich

  • 10:00am to 4:00pm

Meet some of the Quadram Institute’s scientists who are studying how the food we eat can help to keep us healthy. We’re often told to eat our greens and get our five portions of fruit and veg a day. But why is this important? Explore the latest research into what it is in certain plant-based foods that might help to reduce the risks of developing chronic diseases. See if you can sniff out the healthy compounds, and maybe even get some tips on how best to prepare these foods to maximise their benefits.

It’s not just what’s in our food that changes how it can affect us – its structure is important too. Explore how processing affects structure by comparing orange juice with the whole fruits. The microscopic structure of foods is also important as it affects how the foods are digested, and so how they affect health. Using microscopes, QI researchers working on starch will describe cutting-edge research on this molecule and how changing its properties may lead to a new range of healthier foods.

Guardians of the Gut 

Friday 26th and Saturday 27th October

Who are the scaled-down superheroes battling baddies in our gut, and keeping us in tip-top health? Find out as the Hall Lab at the Quadram Institute introduce you to the Guardians of the Gut.
Our bodies are home to a diverse population of microbes, known collectively as our microbiota. These microbes play an important role in keeping us healthy from birth to old age. Scientists are now beginning to unravel exactly how these microscopic marvels work together and with us, and how this affects our health.

At the Guardians of the Gut exhibit you can explore the amazing variety of bacteria that colonise our gut, and the roles they play in our growth, development and wellbeing. Walking through a giant interactive gut you can explore the different roles microbes play. You’ll get the chance to find out what happens if you change your diet, or if you have to take a course of antibiotics. And you can explore the new bacterial therapies that are being developed by the Hall lab to manipulate the microbiota to combat diseases.

Life as a Pathologist

  • 4:15 pm – 5:15 pm
  • The Forum, Auditorium

Pathology is not only a central component of a lot of dramas seen on television, but also to the diagnoses made in many patients lives. The reality is very different from that seen in the media. Prof Wilkinson has worked as a pathologist for nearly forty years, and will discuss the realities of the job, reflecting on how these differ from the usual media image.

Prof Wilkinson graduated from University of Birmingham in 1982. He started training as a histopathologist (one who specialises in examining tissue samples and carrying out post-mortems) in 1983 and has worked on the field ever since. He now specialises in undergraduate teaching of Pathology at Norwich Medical School.


Saturday 27th October

Meet the microbiologists

  • 10:00am-4:00pm
  • Part of Science without Borders Day at the Explorium in The Forum, Norwich

Meet some of the Quadram Institute’s microbiologists and find out about some of the research into the microbial world that will be happening inside the brand new Quadram Institute building. Don your lab coat and take a virtual visit to our new laboratories for a science selfie. Meet the microbes, and try to work out which might be good for you and which ones you should avoid. And take on the handwashing challenge to check that you’re doing what’s needed to keep nasty bacteria at bay.

Food and Health Research at the Quadram Institute 

  • 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
  • The Forum Auditorium

Professor Richard Mithen leads the Food, Innovation and Health research programme at the Quadram Institute. In this talk, he will give an introduction to the scientific research that will be happening in the Quadram Institute. Opening soon on the Norwich Research Park, in partnership with UEA and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, the Quadram Institute will be answering fundamental questions about how food affects health, and the influence of the microbiome. This complex community of trillions of different microbes is central to our health; Quadram Institute scientists and clinicians will be working to understand how. From this, new treatments will be developed, as well as novel foods that work with the microbiome to optimise our health.


Soapbox Science 

  • 11am – 2pm
  • Hay Hill, Norwich City Centre

For the first time, Soapbox Science will be coming to Norwich. QI’s scientists will be leading the charge and getting on their soapboxes to talk about their science on the streets of Norwich.
Soapbox Science gives women scientists a platform to talk about their science in public areas. The Teacher Scientist Network have organised a day of talks from 12 of Norwich’s finest women scientists to celebrate the vital roles they play in making major scientific breakthroughs.

QI’s speakers in this stellar line up are:

  • Dimitra Lamprinaki “The sweet communication between gut microbes and our defender cells”
  • Erika Coletto “Bugs in your gut, thoughts in your brain. Which is the link between the two?”
  • Marina Corrado “Starch Wars: Episode I – The rise of the Resistant Starch”
  • Dr Zoe Schofield “Personal trainers for your babies immunity: How bacteria shapes the early life immune system”


Related Targets

Targeting antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial Resistance


Targeting cancer


Targeting Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular Disease

Targeting food safety

Food Safety

Targeting Future Foods

Future Foods

Targeting the understanding of the microbiome

Understanding the Microbiome

Targeting personalised nutrition

Personalised Nutrition

Targeting food composition

Food Composition

Related Research Groups

Hall Group

Lindsay Hall

Webber group

Mark Webber

Related Research Areas