Brain Tumour Research normally holds regular lab tours, inviting a limited number of supporters who have raised enough to sponsor a day of research, the equivalent of £2,740, to visit and talk to scientists. During their visit, supporters can also put up a tile on the Wall of Hope within the Research Centre to commemorate their achievement or remember a loved one. The tours have been on hold during the coronavirus pandemic.
Brain Tumour Research’s Digital Marketing Manager, Rachael White, who worked alongside Iain Row at Visual Realms to produce the virtual lab tour, said:
“This is a special lab tour that lets you explore the lab virtually. It’s as if you were on a real lab tour without having to leave home. The viewer is in control and can find out more about different areas in the lab, what individual scientists are focusing on and the pieces of research equipment necessary to conduct cutting edge research, as they navigate their way around the lab using their mouse.”
Visual Realms worked pro bono on the project. Managing director, Iain Rowe, said:
“We pride ourselves on being able to create virtual tours in difficult and sensitive environments. Capturing the lab tour at Plymouth was a good fit for us as although it’s no replacement for actually visiting, it shows the quality of what’s already there. We were delighted to be helping a very worthy cause.”
The virtual lab tour opens up the experience to potential supporters and organisations for whom long distance travel is prohibitive. It also provides an educational opportunity for schools and the children of supporters under the age of 16, who are unable to visit the charity’s Centres of Excellence on the grounds of health and safety.
As well as funding its Centres of Excellence, Brain Tumour Research also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is calling for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia, and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs.