The Body Unlocked: How Research is Changing Lives

A photography exhibition showcasing ground-breaking NHS research taking place across the Thames Valley has opened in Didcot.

'The Body Unlocked: How Research is Changing Lives' features life-sized photographs of people who have taken part in studies, researchers at work and microscopic images of cells and bacteria.

The exhibition will be at Didcot Civic Hall, Britwell Road until Thursday October 29 and will visit other venues in the county and Thames Valley in future. Didcot Civic Hall is open from 8.30am to 9pm Monday to Friday and Saturday mornings. Other weekend opening hours will vary, visitors are encouraged to check with the venue.

The studies highlighted in the exhibition are taking place in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and Oxfordshire with support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Images include surgeons preparing a pioneering gene therapy injection for vision loss, dogs smelling urine to detect cancer, a close-up of cells responsible for controlling blood sugar and a virtual reality headset to treat mental illnesses (see notes to editors to access the photos and full captions).

The exhibition was opened at the newly reopened Didcot Civic Hall on Friday 28 August by Mayor of Didcot Councillor Eleanor Hards.

She said: "I'm delighted to open this exhibition along with the opening of the civic hall in these difficult times.

"We have taken every opportunity to ensure that this exhibition is socially distanced and is safe for people to come and enjoy this amazing and informative exhibition.

"From the development of penicillin to the link between smoking and lung cancer, this essential research is helping to transform people's lives. This topic is especially relevant today in the battle against COVID-19. It is crucial that people put themselves forward to aid research."

Research studies are an integral part of improving treatments in the NHS, public health and social care for conditions such as cancer, diabetes and psychosis.

More than 2,800 participants have already been involved in COVID-19 research at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust including studies into drug treatment and DNA analysis of those with the infection. Learn more at bepartofresearch.uk.

Prof Belinda Lennox, Clinical Director for the NIHR Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands, one of the NIHR partners behind the exhibition, said: "Health research is vital for developing new treatments in the NHS, improving the quality of the care that we provide and learning more about various conditions. We rely on the public to take part in this research, which can include anything from filling out surveys or giving a blood sample to trialling a new medication or treatment.

"This exhibition highlights the groundbreaking research taking place across the Thames Valley and we hope that it encourages the public to volunteer for studies in the NHS."

To learn more about the exhibition visit thebodyunlocked.info. Venues interested in hosting the exhibition can contact comms.crnthamesvalley@nihr.ac.uk.