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MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit


From 2013 until 2017, the MBU's annual open days provided opportunities for the general public, secondary school students and scientists working on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus to meet out scientists and investigate our science projects. In 2018, we decided to take our MBU Roadshows to venues outside the immediate Cambridge area, however we continued to host visitors to the Unit on request - often arising from our Roadshow events.

The first of these open day events was in 2013, to celebrate the Medical Research Council's Centenary.

The MRC's annual Festival of Medical Research was launched in 2015 and our open days were then scheduled a part of this Festival.



To celebrate the Centenary of the Medical Research Council, the Mitochondrial Biology Unit opened its doors to the public on 20 June 2013 for demonstrations and presentations based on the theme ‘How do we get energy out of food?’

Visitors were shown three presentations explaining where energy comes from, how it is ‘stored’ in chemical bonds, how energy is released during the breakdown of food and used to generate the cellular energy currency ATP, and what happens when these complex processes fail in mitochondrial dysfunction and disease. Visitors were also invited to view mitochondria in human cells, observing the complex networks they form.

For most of our visitors, this was the first time that they had been inside the Unit and their feedback indicated that there was a high level of interest in mitochondria, how they work, and what important roles they play in the body. Our visitors came from a cross-section of the local and wider community, and they were very interested to learn about our research through talks and informative diagrams and images.

We would like to thank our visitors for their visit and helpful feedback.



On 25 June 2014 the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit (MBU) opened its doors again to the public.

Visitors included local residents and students from local sixth form colleges. MBU scientists gave a series of talks and demonstrations on mitochondria and how mitochondrial dysfunction leads to illness and ageing.

Visitors also attended a “meet the scientists” session, where members further explained their work through the use of posters, movies and video games.

Feedback on the event included appreciation of how important the Unit’s work is in the understanding mitochondria and its effect on health, and how informative the event had been for potential future scientists considering future career paths.


Open Day feedback 2015                                                            


Our annual Open Day in 2015 took place on Wednesday, 24 June.

During the course of the day we welcomed approximately 50 visitors, including three scientists and four tutors who accompanied students from three local schools/colleges.

Tours were scheduled every two hours and included:

  • Talks to explain what mitochondria are and the causes and effects of mitochondrial diseases
  • Scientific demonstrations on crystal production and growth
  • Computer games aimed at understanding mitochondrial dysfunction
  • Posters explaining the science
  • Movies

Our visitors also met with scientists of the Unit, who explained their work and gave insights into what it is like to work and study at the MRC MBU.
Feedback has been excellent. Students were invited to submit three words describing their experience and these are shown in the feedback chart.

We are extremely proud to have staged such a successful event.



The MRC MBU's open day on Wednesday, 22 June 2016 was a huge success. We welcomed many visitors, who learned more about the Unit's research and its benefits to society. The event was covered by Cambridge TV. 



In 2017, we held our annual open day on Wednesday, 21 June.

Our visitors were extremely interested to hear about the causes and effects of mitochondrial diseases, with explanations of the Unit's research towards the discovery and development of therapies.

Some of this research was shown in a practical demonstration, where fluorescent markings were used to observe the behaviour of fruit flies under a microscope.

We thank our visitors for their positive feedback and their continued interest in our work.

MRC Cambridge Activity Book

Videos about mitochondria

Inside the human cell

Mitochondrial dynamics

Mitochondrial fission and fusion

The molecular mechanism of transport by the mitochondrial ADP/ATP carrier