Jessica Sims


Jessica Sims2

Jessica Sims

Title of Presentation

Be a biobank: Engaging the public in biobanking through games


Date and Place

Session B6


Speaker Biography

Jessica Sims is Project Manager and Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator for the UKCRC Tissue Directory and Coordination Centre / (based at University College London). Jessica is a social scientist by training and was educated at San Francisco State University (BA) and the London School of Economics and Political Science (MSc.). Prior to her appointment at the UKCRC Centre, she worked at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence focusing on patient involvement in national clinical guideline development, Kings College London on public involvement in health research and the Runnymede Trust on racial equality policy. She recently won a UCL Provost Award for Public Engagement for her successful track record in delivering public engagement projects and events.



Access to and the use of human biological samples (HBS) for research is essential to achieving personalised medicine. This access to HBS is driven by biobanks who provide the governance, quality and logistical infrastructure to clinical and research sectors. However, as access relies on donations, it is crucial for the wider public to have greater awareness of the importance and use of HBS and, more importantly, to have an active role in driving the development of field that affects their health and care.

The UKCRC Tissue Directory and Coordination Centre was set-up to coordinate biobanking activity in the UK. To promote greater public understanding of the field, we initiated a project where members of the public contributed to the development of a strategy board game. Iterations of the game were then playtested by biobanking professionals to ensure subject accuracy and members of the public at a music festival to gauge the game’s ability to convey key messages.

The creation of a strategy board game was deliberate, as it provides a method of conveying complex subject matter and rules in a format that is familiar to many people. We recognised that participants’ who had little prior knowledge of biobanking would be an important group who could identify key aspects of biobanking that may be of interest to the wider public. As a result, we have created a board game that places the individual in a scenario that closely matches real-life biobanking and a tool to be for further public engagement.