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BRAIN hosts PPI celebration event with the National Centre for Mental Health

On Saturday 20 April, BRAIN co-hosted an event with the National Centre for Mental Health (NCMH) to celebrate the importance of patient and public involvement (PPI) in research.

Whilst BRAIN is developing and trialling advanced therapies for neurodegenerative disease and NCMH is looking into the causes of mental health disorders, both are united in one cause: ‘Working together for better brain health’.

“PPI is the most important part of the health research puzzle…”

Public and patient involvement is an integral part of BRAIN and NCMH’s research, as it brings both researchers and members of the public together to help shape and inform the direction of research. This makes research outcomes more reliable, more relevant, and more likely to be used to improve health and social care services.

On the day of the event, BRAIN and NCMH PPI groups had a chance to meet in person and attend a guided lab tour to learn more about how human samples are used in research.

Later on, we welcomed members of the wider public to network with researchers and take part in interactive ‘brain games’. Attendees took part in a variety of discussions from what getting involved in brain health research looks like to an interview with Principal Investigator and BRAIN director, Professor William Gray.

NCMH PPI member, Jacqueline Campbell interviewed Professor Gray on his experiences as a neurosurgeon and working in partnership with PPI groups.

Professor Gray said, “Getting the chance to go into someone’s brain and make a positive difference is such a privilege.”

“It’s important that people who have these conditions have a voice on how these trials are conducted. They are advocates for continuing research in these areas.”

All fun and brain games

Attendees had the opportunity to test and broaden their knowledge of brain health research through an array of interactive stands and brain-related games run by centres from across the Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences in Cardiff University.

Researchers from NMHII ran two interactive games for guests, including the opportunity to practise their hand at pipetting and guessing different animal brain sizes in a game called ‘Whose brain is it anyway?‘.

Attendees try their hand at pipetting.

Staff based in the Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics demonstrated how the power of poetry can be used to express experiences of different mental health and brain disorder diagnoses through writing Cinquain poems.

There were also Virtual Reality headset experiences, Pin the ball on the brain, and the ever-popular Stroop Mat.

We also asked guests to take part in our Paint a brain activity which demonstrated how different parts of the brain are responsible for different functions and processes, such as movement and memory.


Soapbox scientists

As well as hearing personal PPI stories, attendees were invited to discover more about specific research areas in the division and pose questions to our ‘soapbox scientists’.

These short talks ranged from the genetics of treatment resistant schizophrenia, the use of virtual reality (VR) in healthcare, and how memory can be impacted by mental illness.


We’d like to thank all of our attendees for their great insight and contributions on the day.