Microscopic image showing a ‘neuronal rosette’ grown ‘in a dish’ from patients’ skin. photo : Dr Selina Wray

Introduction

Over the course of their Wellcome Hub residency (2017-18), artist Charlie Murphy, science writer Philip Ball, BBC medical correspondent Fergus Walsh and clinical neurologist Professor Nick Fox have personally participated in Dr Selina Wray’s molecular research to investigate how the brain works and how different dementias function on a cellular level.

Envisaged as a novel way to open up and share their experiences with wider public audiences, Brains in A Dish (BiaD) are developing innovative new ways to articulate and deepen our understandings of the brain and the impacts dementias can have on brain function on a molecular level.

Inspired by their dialogues with lab staff and members of Rare Dementia Support groups, the BiaD team are creating a range of responses to this research to inform and encourage debate on the profound metaphysical, ethical, legal and personal questions raised by this rapidly expanding field of bio-technology.

Each participant has donated a small sample of their skin to Selina’s study. Observing the extraordinary transformation of their skin cells into functioning brain cells in the lab; they are following their cells’ journey through each stage of the culturing processes ‘in a dish’ – while learning about the critical differences in growth and degeneration between their cells and those cells affected by Frontal Temporal Dementia (FTD) and familial Alzheimer’s disease (fAD).

Following a successful series of events, publications and presentations developed during their residency for festival, gallery, museum and literary contexts, the BiaD team now plan to expand and upscale their activities to engage wider national and international audiences.

The BiaD team are inviting expressions of interest and curatorial input and contributions from new partnerships toward the development and funding of new work and presentations across UK and Internationally.

Click to view/download our Expression of Interest document:
Expression of Interest

Brains in a Dish has developed out of  Created Out of Mind’s interdisciplinary research residency in The Hub at Wellcome Collection, London (Oct 2016-18).

Created Out of Mind are a team that bring together people living with different kinds of dementia, scientists, artists, musicians, broadcasters, clinicians and carers to explore, challenge and shape perceptions and understanding of dementias through science and the arts.   www.createdoutofmind.org

R&D has been supported by the Hub Award , with  in kind support from UCL’s Institute of Neurology. Dr Wray’s research is supported by ARUK.