BNMC opens doors to neighborhood for ‘Treats, Tricks and Discoveries’

Community Research Facilitator Megan Wilson-Crowley and another masked superhero at the fair.

Community Research Facilitator Megan Wilson-Crowley and another masked superhero at the fair

Published November 1, 2017


An enthusiastic crowd of at least 175 local trick-or-treaters and their families turned out for the first-ever “Tricks, Treats and Discoveries: Family Fun and Learning Fair,” held October 28 in the Educational Opportunity Center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC).

A foul and rainy Saturday afternoon, it was just the right kind of day to come inside and learn about clinical research at UB while enjoying some Halloween snacks and fun activities co-sponsored by the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Community Engagement core and its partner, the Patient Voices Network.

View a photo gallery here.

Volunteers from across UB’s health sciences schools and community partners set up more than a dozen tables for the event, each featuring a fun and educational learning activity and a bowl of Halloween treats. Kids received a sticker at each station to fill out their passport cards, which were entered into a drawing for a selection of donated gift baskets at the end of the day.

“The purpose of the event is to bring the university community and the surrounding community together for a day of fun and learning,” said Laurene Tumiel-Berhalter, PhD, director of Community Translational Research in UB’s Department of Family Medicine in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and director of Community Engagement for the CTSI. “It’s an opportunity for our neighbors to learn more about clinical and translational research on the medical campus and across UB, and for UB to open its doors to the community.”

Costume Party with Community Engagement Team.

CTSI Community Research Facilitator Megan Wilson-Crowley, MPA, and Community Recruitment Liaison Danielle Abramo Balling, organizers of the day’s festivities, led a team of volunteers through the neighborhood surrounding the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in the weeks leading up to the event distributing flyers to schools, libraries, community centers and private homes inviting neighbors to attend the learning fair.

“Community involvement in research is vital as it can build trust, encourage participation among under-represented groups, and enhance the relevance of research findings,” said Tumiel-Berhalter.

In satisfaction surveys completed at the event, participants told organizers they “learned things about research at UB they didn’t know before,” the education tables were “interesting and fun,” and that, after attending the event, they would be more likely to participate in a research study. Complete results of the survey are still being compiled.

Learning stations at the fair included the following:

UB Institutional Research Board (IRB) table: “Research: Not Just Hocus Pocus”

Children and families had a chance to spin the Wheel of Research and answer a question about research and clinical studies, and to talk with the IRB about protections in place for volunteers.  

Ascend Therapy Group imaging table: “No Bones About It”

Kids learned about the different kinds of images used in research (e.g., x-ray, MRI, CT/PET scans). They could put together a life-size skeleton puzzle or make their own image to take home using black paper and white crayons.

CTSI “Cookie Clinical Trial” table

Kids participated in a taste-test survey to determine the optimal cookie characteristics, experiencing firsthand how clinical trials are run while enjoying the fruits of their research.

CTSI Buffalo Research Registry table

Parents were able to sign up for the Buffalo Research Registry to receive information about both ongoing and upcoming clinical trials.

CTSI Microscope table: “I Put a Spell On You and Now You’re Under My Microscope”

Children learned about microscopes and why they’re used for research. They looked at different plant cells (such as leaves and pumpkins) and brain and kidney cells.

Patient Voices Network table

Parents were invited to fill in a pumpkin with ideas and topics they are interested in when it comes to health care, research and future community events.

UB Physical Therapy "Moving with Moana" table

Kids got to move around and jump up and down as they learned about the value of exercise and a healthy diet.

CTSI’s Special Populations core: Activity book table

Visitors were introduced to “Sophia Learns About Research,” and her story of participation in a clinical trial via an activity book published by the CTSI Special Populations core. Families received a copy of the activity book and a box of crayons to take home.

Genome, Environment and Microbiome (GEM) Community of Excellence tables

Children met “Gene the Genome” who showed them how to extract DNA from strawberries and look at the DNA samples from their strawberries under the microscope.

“Spit 4 Buffalo” DNA sequencing project table

Families learned about biomarkers and research, and were given the opportunity to sign up for a new biobank at UB.

Department of Pediatrics Division of Behavioral Medicine table

Kids learned about the importance of healthy behaviors by playing a fun game of “red light, green light.”

Oishei Healthy Kids Health Home table

Volunteers from the Oishei Healthy Kids Health Home project were on hand to discuss the support they provide to families experiencing physical, mental or behavioral health issues with a child.