United Kingdom


Year 2019 Winner Project | Engage 2019 Engage Winners

Presented by
Bella Starling


The AudioLab is a creative and innovative way to support diverse young people to connect with science. Every year, we work with a group of 12-15 young adults (aged 18-30) at relative socioeconomic, educational and/or health disadvantage, who positively self-identify as having creative talent. Through a series of culturally- and personally-relevant and creative sessions over a two-week period, young adults are empowered to engage with science as people with creative assets (not ‘have-nots’) by producing a one-hour live radio show. Broadcast of the show and online content reaches further diverse audiences.

As a result, young adults feel more confident about themselves and about science. They see a role for their creative talents in science and science communication and feel able to become actively involved in health research. The ongoing partnership has helped many of the participants to progress to employment, training and voluntary roles within health, research, creative and communications environments. Some now work directly with researchers in arts-science partnerships (The MixLab) to engage audiences at international conferences, science festivals and as part of research. The AudioLab and MixLab projects represent important contributions to diversifying scientific and research cultures, with the potential to be reproduced elsewhere.


More information about
Bella Starling, Director of Public Programmes, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

Bella Starling is a Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow and Director of Public Programmes at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust. She is passionate about inclusion in, and democratisation of, health research; her Fellowship explores how engaging diverse people with research acts as a catalyst for social and scientific change. Sometimes, she is called a change-maker. Her career has spanned neuroscience, genetics and stem cell research, science writing, biomedical ethics, public engagement, patient involvement and science policy, as a practitioner, action researcher, strategic adviser and funder. Currently, she leads patient and public involvement in health-related research across National Institute of Health Research and Wellcome Trust programmes in Greater Manchester UK, covering a huge range of research areas, from the very basic (eg. molecular biotiming) to the very applied (eg. primary care research). By working in partnership with a wealth of people and patients, as well as community, civic and creative organisations, she stimulates culture change towards responsible research and innovation across and health research and care systems.

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