Gross factor engages kids in vital research


The Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) knows exactly how to appeal to kids’ love of the gross and the unreal.

Its enduringly popular Poo Room exhibit will return to this year’s HMRI Open Day, for which the line each year is longer than a stretched-out small intestine.

The interactive space gives kids the opportunity to find out how poo is made and what your poo says about you, as well as the chance to “make” their own poo.

While the gross factor is high, the research behind the room is vital, with the HMRI using the open day to showcase the leaps and bounds made in its very own labs and clinics.

Two new exhibits join the program this year: Blood and Guts Central and The Brain Exhibition.

The former will give The Poo Room a run for its money in terms of ickiness, where kids can get made-up with fake wounds or bruises in the moulage and simulation tent; while the latter will feature a dazzling array of kid-friendly booths showcasing the HMRI’s research into mental health, brain cancer, artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

The Brain Room will be complemented by public seminars by Professor Frini Karayanidis on The Wonders of the Brain, and Associate Professor Paul Tooney, who will speak about The Mysteries of the Brain.

Back in Blood and Guts Central, Associate Professor Simon Keely will speak about gut health and how it can even influence our mental health, as well as the important role our digestive system plays in our overall health.

On the theme of ‘what goes in, must come out’, molecular nutritionist Dr Emma Beckett will share her insights on taste, what we eat and why it’s so important.

HMRI will throw open its doors for the open day from 10am to 3pm on Friday 11 October, just in time for the tail end of the school holidays.

To make parking easier, head to McDonald Jones Stadium and hop on the free shuttle bus that operates on a regular loop to and from HMRI headquarters on the John Hunter Hospital campus.

Register your interest online at

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