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Blizard Institute - Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Centre of the Cell’s STEMPod to undergo state-of-the-art computer and film technology refurbishment

This new investment in our unique learning space will ensure that Centre of the Cell continues to inspire young people in East London and beyond. 

Centre of the Cell image

Thirteen years ago, a unique informal science learning project was launched in Whitechapel - Centre of the Cell. In the orange STEMPod suspended above research labs of the Blizard Institute Queen Mary University of London, visitors found an immersive experience about cells and biomedical science with light, film, digital interactive games and unusual objects. 

We are delighted to announce that STEMPod will undergo an extensive £438,000 refurbishment which will see the installation of state-of-the-art computer and film technology and a refresh of activities and film to reflect the latest in biomedical research at Queen Mary. 

STEMPod will be closed temporarily during the works, reopening mid-2023. While the refurbishment takes place, our team will be busy planning a range of new projects that will be housed in the updated STEMPod, featuring some of the most exciting biomedical research and, as always, inspiring the next generation of cell scientists. 

Director of Centre of the Cell Professor Frances Balkwill OBE said, “We look forward to welcoming you back to our new, updated STEMPod next year. In the meantime, Centre of the Cell will remain open with our usual science shows, workshops, and Youth Membership Scheme activities held in our other learning space, Neuron Pod.”

We will be providing updates on the refurbishment here, so check back for news. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at

Frances Balkwill OBE, FMedSci, Professor of Cancer Biology and Director of Centre of the Cell, said: "STEMPod has enthralled thousands of visitors over the past thirteen years. This refurbishment will ensure it continues at the heart of Centre of the Cell’s mission, inspiring young people from East London and beyond."

Centre of the Cell and STEMPod

Centre of the Cell is an informal science education centre based at Queen Mary University of London. It is the first science education centre in the world to be located within working biomedical research laboratories.

The STEMPod Experience is a five-scene, 1.5 hour-interactive science experience for ages 7 and up. The immersive show features films, digital interactive games and interesting objects such as a human brain. The experience is supported by our expert Centre of the Cell Explainers. We also aim to have at least one medical or dental student and/or scientist join each visiting group to answer visitors’ questions about science and careers.

Frances Balkwill OBE, FMedSci, Professor of Cancer Biology and Director of Centre of the Cell

Frances Balkwill is Professor of Cancer Biology at Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London and Director of the Centre of the Cell, an informal biomedical science learning centre in East London. There have been more than 228,000 participants in Centre of the Cell activities since opening in September 2009. Together with illustrator Mic Rolph, Fran has also produced thirteen science books for children on cell and molecular biology with titles such as Enjoy Your Cells, The Egg and Sperm Race and You, Me and HIV. These books have been translated into at least twelve foreign languages with over half a million copies sold worldwide. 

Fran serves on CRUK and ERC grant committees. She is a Trustee of the charity Blood Cancer UK and chairs the Research Advisory Committee of Prostate Cancer UK. She was recently named in the Top 100 list of female scientists in the UK.



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