Science Week 2023 sparks national conversation about what it means to be human


UCD-led art and science exhibition among 15 festivals and 7 events funded by Science Foundation Ireland to take place nationwide during Science Week 2023

Thursday, 31st August 2023: Minister for Further and Higher Education, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, joined Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) today to launch Science Week 2023, announcing €650,000 in funding for festivals and events happening throughout the week.

Taking place from 12th-19th November, the theme for Science Week 2023 is ‘Human?’, which asks people to consider what it means to be human in today’s world, and how the decisions we make today will impact the people and world of the future.

The events will include an exhibition by Irish artist, Vincent Devine entitled ‘The Vitruvian: Uncovering the Layers of Cancer’ that was co-created with researchers and a patient voice partner at the UCD Conway Institute. 

Man pictured beside blue painting
Pictured: Vincent Devine with the co-created work (in progress): 'The Vitruvian: Uncovering the Layers of Cancer’. 

Inspired by the iconic drawing of ‘The Vitruvian Man’ by artist and scientist Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent Devine has created a striking image of an androgynous human to visually map the different perspectives and approaches that researchers use to understand cancer at molecular, cellular, tissue and human levels.

Vincent Devine met with 15 cancer researchers, 1 technical staff member and a patient voice partner involved with these researchers. Together, they explored how cancer affects patients and their families, how research undertaken in the Institute may ultimately help patients, and how technology platforms within the Institute support this research. 

The exhibition will include derivative and interactive components that sit alongside the main work to delve deeper and explore specific cancer research areas. The derivative components are the artist’s interpretation of the research while the interactive components are scientific objects relating to ongoing research. Together, the work depicts the journey of cancer cells through the body alongside the human experience of cancer.

‘The Vitruvian: Uncovering the Layers of Cancer’ will be on display in Dublin and Offaly during Science Week 2023. Vincent Devine will walk visitors through the visual imagery of art works, while researchers and patient advocates will talk about their role in the creative process and the future they envision for cancer patients.

Professor William Gallagher, UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science and UCD Conway Institute who led this art and science event proposal said:

“Cancer, its prevention, diagnosis and treatment are a major challenge for us as humans in society. Vincent has incorporated microscopic elements into the work in a fusion of scientific imagery reproduced in an artistic way to tell a visual story of how different parts of the body are affected by cancer, It provides an unique insight into how researchers study cancer through different perspectives and approaches alongside how patients experience this disease.” 

Speaking at the launch of Science Week, Minister Harris said: 

“Science week is always a great opportunity to have people engage with science and research through fun, engaging and interactive events. I am delighted that my Department continues to fund such informative and thought provoking events. 

As humans, our activities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) will help shape the future of innovation, progress, and the betterment of society. 

We know our society faces many challenges but I believe through research, science and innovation we will be better equipped to face these head on.
Science Week 2023 also provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on the impact that developments in STEM have on future generations – both the marvels and possibilities, while also considering the responsibility to mitigate potential pitfalls and ethical dilemmas. 

I would encourage everyone to take part in Science Week, by attending a festival or event and get involved in the stimulating fun and animated conversations on offer this week aiming to shape our collective future.”

Commenting on Science Week, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland, Professor Philip Nolan, said:

“Science has a profound impact on individuals, society, and the world at large in a multitude of ways; from technological advancement to healthcare and medicine, environmental conservation, food production, and entertainment. Science Week 2023 will explore these themes and more, while we reflect on what it means to be human in today’s world and what lies ahead for future generations.

Critical to the success of Science Week is the growing community of dedicated volunteers across the country who work tirelessly on delivering stimulating activities each year. We are truly thankful for their commitment to passionately promoting science among the general public. We encourage everyone to get involved in Science Week, whether at your local festival, online on social media, or with friends and family.”

Science Week 2023 will take place from 12th-19th November with 15 free-to-attend festivals taking place across the country. For more information on how to get involved, please visit and also follow developments using the hashtag #scienceweek.