Nov
03

Why I like the Wellcome Trust

posted on November 3rd 2009 in Education & I'm a Scientist & News with 0 Comments

I like the Wellcome Trust. They funded the I'm a Scientist pilot project.  They funded the Debate Kits extension.

But that's not why I like them.

They invited Sophia and I to a Grantholders' Networking Day at their Euston Road HQ today. They have a lovely building.  Light, airy, efficient, friendly.  One of those a/v set-ups that leave you craning your neck trying to find where the projector is hidden. They have original artworks on the walls.  They serve decent coffee, fantastic biscuits, and a high quality meaty lunch.

But that's not why I like them.

They had a good line up of speakers and interspersed the more prosaic sessions with fascinating glimpses at some of the 2.5 million items chronicling the history of medicine in the extraordinarily rich Wellcome Collection. They got everyone introduced to each other through a frenetic, but fun, speed-dating session.

But that's not why I like them. 

I like them because today I met the film-maker responsible for the Surgery Live series on Channel Four earlier this year.  I met people working to improve the teaching of science in primary schools.  I met Sandy Starr a former TV film reviewer for The Sun, turned science communicator who "seeks to improve the public and professional understanding of the respective genetic and on-genetic aspects of psychological spectrum disorders".  I met Tracy Gentles from Clod Ensemble who send performance artists and voice coaches into teaching hospitals to help surgeons understand the act they unwittingly put on as part of their professional life.  I met Michael Pugh and Hilary Bartlett, the Chair and Secretary of the Friends of the Nash Ensemble who ran a 4 day residential workshop in Great Windsor Park led by a distinguished neuro-scientist. The workshop was attended by students, a high court judge, doctors and therapists.  I met Heather Leach who is "embarking on an ambitious project to create "NHS the musical" a 75 minute user generated documentary … portray[ing]a day in the life of a leading hospital.. all told through song and amalgamated music."

That's why I like them.

The Wellcome Trust is pushing the boundaries.  They are funding ideas.  Great ideas. Simple ideas. Brilliantly mad ideas. They are happy to fund people, charities, film-makers, small companies, large organisations.  They want to fund the great ideas that work.

That's why I like them.

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