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  • Science & Technology

MPs have a go at ‘citizen science’

by Laura Williams | Analysis

28 February 2013

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Shabana Mahmood MP
MPs were fascinated by CellSlider

MPs were fascinated by CellSliderTM

We’ve been talking about our new ‘citizen science’ work a fair bit recently on this blog.

But it’s important to make sure that MPs are up to date with our latest projects. So yesterday we went to Parliament to tell them about it… and they loved it – after all, who wouldn’t want to “help beat cancer in five minutes?”

To recap briefly, last year, we launched Cell SliderTM, a citizen science project to help accelerate our groundbreaking research.

Taking just a few minutes and a few clicks of the mouse, Cell SliderTM is the first ever interactive website to turn real archive cancer data into a format that can be analysed by the public.

It presents real images of tumour samples in the form of a simple game of snap. Users are guided through a tutorial explaining which cells to analyse and which ones to ignore. By getting the public (yes, that includes politicians) to become ‘citizen scientists’, more samples will be analysed faster and more effectively, freeing up Cancer Research UK’s experts to carry out other cancer research.

To date, more than 650,000 images have already been analysed.

We asked MPs to have a go on and then urge their local communities to take part too. Here are a few photos, and some of their Tweets from the event:

  • Dr Julian Huppert, Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge and a former research scientist

  • Shabana Mahmood, Shadow Minister for Universities and Science and Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood

  • Nick de Bois, member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer and Conservative MP for Enfield North

It was great to see some of Parliament’s cancer champions taking part, including John Baron MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Cancer; shadow health minister Andrew Gwynne MP; James Arbuthnot MP, Chair of the APPG on Brain Tumours, Sir Bob Russell MP from the APPG on Smoking and Health, and Jim Shannon MP, the Democratic Unionist Party health spokesman.

We’re so pleased to have the support of MPs in raising awareness, as there’s still so much more we need to do to ensure no-one’s life is cut short by cancer.

By boosting our ability to analyse data quickly with the help of ‘citizen scientists’ – and by encouraging MPs to shout about it – our world-class research teams will be able to develop better ways to prevent, control and cure the disease and help save many more lives.

We’ll be doing some more exciting citizen science activities over the coming weeks and months so watch out for more info!


  • Laura Williams is a senior public affairs manager at Cancer Research UK