'Viral footprints' is a project to inspire interest, creativity, education and discussion around the theme of viral infections.

We are involved in activities, events and workshops in hospitals and schools.

The term ‘footprints’ has been used in science to reflect the changes that can be seen in viruses as they alter to evade our immune system. In this project, we are using the idea of footprints in a broader sense, to stimulate thought and creativity around the numerous dynamic ways that we interact with viruses.

The footprint theme is also a way to explore the impact that infection can have on us, which might be an effect on a whole population, or the unique journey and experiences of one individual person.

For patients in hospital, the theme is expanded to encourage thinking around the way we might leave 'footprints' through our interactions with others and the marks we make on the world. Working with people in hospital, we are using the beauty and intrigue of viruses to stimulate interest and creativity, using a variety of images to inspire activities ranging from design to origami. The focus and concentration required for these tasks can provide a welcome respite from the anxiety and boredom that patients in hospital often suffer.

Among school students, we are exploring the footprints theme to encompass ideas ranging from a world view that considers the way that footprints of human travel can impact on the spread of infections, down to molecular interactions through which human and pathogen leave their marks on one another.

Our activities and events


Hepatitis infections and stigma

We are trying to tackle stigma by encouraging open dialogue, providing education, and increasing awareness of hepatitis viruses among patients, healthcare workers and the public. 

Our work in collaboration with many centres in Africa, including Uganda, South Africa, Cameroon and Kenya, illustrates the stigma and discrimination that still exists for people with these infections, and for their families. This can be a barrier to getting the right treatment, and to preventing new infections. We hope that our ongoing work will continue to tackle this and identify ways to reduce stigma.


  • "Helped me understand how beautiful the inside of my body is"
    Child in John Radcliffe hospital school]
  • "I'm enjoying’s therapeutic...passes time"
    dult on dialysis unit
  • "It's stimulating, and that’s what he needs"
    Patient's relative on trauma ward
  • "Really good and interesting, inspirational, interactive. Had known literally nothing before, now very interested'"
    Sixth form student at School of St Helen and St Katherine
  • "I learnt that there are different ways to be a scientist"
    GCSE student, School of St Helen and St Katherine

  • "I thought that it was brilliant, pitched at the right level for our children, lots of question asking and holistic activities to keep them keen and involve them"
    Teacher, Little Milton Primary School
  • "I love science"
    Year 2 pupil, Rose Hill Primary School
  • "What an inspiring lesson! The children were fascinated by the art of such small things"
    Teacher, Rose Hill Primary School
  • "It's useful to know more about a branch in medicine that could be a potential choice of career"
    GCSE student, Cheney School

  • "Given that we have such an excellent healthcare system in this country and people like yourself carrying out important research, I think we have a duty to try and share the benefits of that with those in other parts of the world who are not so fortunate"
    Member of the public providing feedback after World Hepatitis Day