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article imageLife of a scientist: Craft and Graft Special

By Tim Sandle     Mar 15, 2019 in Science
London - How do you feed a million fruit flies? How does an eyelash become a scientific tool? These are some of the questions posed at a new exhibition at London's Francis Crick Centre, focused on the day-to-day activities of scientists.
The aim of the new exhibition is to provide the visitor with a look behind the scenes at Britain's biggest laboratory to discover the astonishing methods driving the latest biomedical advances.
The new exhibition provides an insight into the work of the unsung heroes who make the latest advanc...
The new exhibition provides an insight into the work of the unsung heroes who make the latest advances in science possible.
The Francis Crick Institute is a biomedical research centre in London, close to St. Pancras station. The institute is a partnership between Cancer Research UK, Imperial College London, King's College London, the Medical Research Council, University College London (UCL) and the Wellcome Trust.
The exhibition also provides the opportunity for members of the public to meet scientists.
The exhibition also provides the opportunity for members of the public to meet scientists.
The institute employs 1,500 staff, including 1,250 scientists, and operates on an annual budget of over £100 million, resulting in the centre being the single biggest biomedical laboratory in Europe.
Cell culture media on display at the exhibition.
Cell culture media on display at the exhibition.
The institute is named after Francis Crick, who was a British molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist. In 1953, he co-authored with James Watson the academic paper proposing the double helix structure of the DNA molecule.
A laboratory pipettor and associated equipment  a key instrument used by scientists.
A laboratory pipettor and associated equipment, a key instrument used by scientists.
The new exhibition is called 'Craft and Graft', and it is designed to showcase the work of some of the scientists, technicians and engineers who work at the institute.
According to the institute's chief operating officer, Sam Barrell: "The building was designed to maximise opportunities for scientists working in different areas of research to meet and share ideas, and feedback from our staff suggests that this is happening."
Much of the focus is on the technical support staff and engineers that enable science to happen. These are the fly breeders, laser guiders, cell growers, tech fixers and even bottle washers, roles that are perhaps less glamorous but just as vital to support scientific research.
The exhibition is arranged around five typical workbenches that have been specially created with tools and equipment, short films, personal interviews, imagery and interactive exhibits.
Video screen footage at the exhibition of researchers at work.
Video screen footage at the exhibition of researchers at work.
Engineering
Many areas of the Crick building contain specialist equipment, which scientists rely need to use for experiments. If the equipment breaks, the science stops. The institute has a dedicated engineering team to maintain and to develop equipment which helps to keep the science running.
Various electronic and mechanical engineers and technicians support the work of the institute. The p...
Various electronic and mechanical engineers and technicians support the work of the institute. The picture shows some of the types of apparatus that are maintained.
Fruit fly research
Since 70 percent of genes for human disease have a fruit fly equivalent, scientists regularly study fruit flies. To maintain sufficient sticks, a technician team are tasked with maintaining the insects at the specialist 'Fly Facility'.
Cell and fruit fly research on display at the new exhibition.
Cell and fruit fly research on display at the new exhibition.
Glass washing
Scientists use glassware a team of laboratory support staff are required to clean and process over 750,00 items of glassware each year.
Some of the types of glassware that requires washing at the institute.
Some of the types of glassware that requires washing at the institute.
Cell research
Cell research a major part of the work of the institute. This allows researchers to conduct trials on cell lines rather than on animals and to ensure that biological application are efficacious ahead of any human clinical trials.
The cell research team nurture billions of cells to keep each one uncontaminated and thriving.
The cell research team nurture billions of cells to keep each one uncontaminated and thriving.
Microscopy
Scientists use microscopes firing light particles, or even smaller electron particles, to illuminate the inner workings of human cells and to watch how microbes develop and grow. Supporting the operation of such microscopes is an important function.
Crick has specialist teams who can handle the microscope equipment and prepare samples.
Crick has specialist teams who can handle the microscope equipment and prepare samples.
The new and free exhibition concentrates on five specialist teams and it provides a fascinating and important insight into the work of people in the background who make science happen.
Banner for the  Go behind the scenes at Britain’s biggest lab  exhibition at the Francis Crick Ins...
Banner for the "Go behind the scenes at Britain’s biggest lab" exhibition at the Francis Crick Institute.
The Craft & Graft: Making Science Happen exhibition runs at The Crick, until 21 December 2019.
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