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IKEA At Home with Life Sciences – or – the College at IKEA

Last Saturday some of us went to IKEA Braehead Glasgow for the exciting ‘at home with life sciences‘ outreach event. Most of the public not expecting us and the amount of people at IKEA made this event rather special and a lot of fun. Some of us went there as CeMi to talk about our work in bone repair strategies and some as part of the IMCSB crew where it was all about cells, mitochondria, humans, flies & bones.

Dr Mathis Riehle was in the middle of it all, answering questions, drawing and doodling as usual, and having time for the compulsory smørebrød, köttboller coffee and cinnamon bun. He shares his thoughts on the experience here:

#MVLSatIkea was it like OUTREACH instead of outreach? Not really – yes this event was different as IKEAs exhibition hosts a constant stream of the unsuspecting, who would actually have come to get a new bit or a whole kitchen, sofa, table, chairs or soft furnishings; yes this was different as the sheer number of people passing by was staggering; yes this was different, because here people came not knowing that they would encounter scientists who wanted to show off their discoveries or communicate insights.

The thematic chosen by the Institute:  “At Home by Our Cells” covered the breadth of work ongoing.  As part of the MVLS wide effort, which strung along the exhibition and the food court we got an open plan ‘living room’ with dining table and sofa to occupy – which we did with 6-8 of us present at any given time. To get people to engage we used large visually and haptically interesting props such as a 1/4 size human model where internal organs could be removed and put back together again as well as jigsaws and fluorescent flies.

Over the day we had about 60-80 engaged visitors as well as others who would test the sofa or table we used in the room (‘well that looks sturdy’). Although you would focus on the person/s that you interacted with – the constant stream of ‘others’ passing made for an intense day. Initially I stayed with a jigsaw and whilst kids would try to reassemble the cell or the mitochondrion I would talk to them and their parents about some science tidbits to do with these (powerhouse of the cells, you; maternal inheritance, …). What was interesting were the number that were genuinely interested and some amazing ‘know it all kids’. In the afternoon I moved to look after the human assembly and disassembly line and tied in with others who looked after a bone biology and repair exhibit. I really liked the more outgoing aspect, that you were not necessarily only talking to those people who are already interested and who made an effort to come, but also to those who just had a bit of spare time whilst actually hunting for new bits for their home. Really lovely to see all the interested kids of all ages looking at the exhibits and following the explanations enraptured.

The other exhibits which made an impact on me were the CSI style investigation of ’there’s been a murder’ with bloodied outline of a person in a small cubicle room and kids with tiny lab coats and big safety glasses experimenting to find out ‘who’d done it’. Another interesting setup was a on sleeping pattern and other inherited behavioural traits – where peoples sleeping pattern was analysed and used as ‘hook’ to get them ‘in’ to the bedroom to talk about the science.

Overall it was a very nice event – although when I was picked up I was a captured audience and had to walk the exhibition – again – but with a different purpose…. ‘Now that sofa looks nice…’

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Video abstract for our recent bacteria bio-interfaces paper on Advanced Materials

Co-culture of human cells and L. lactic bacteria producing recombinant human ECM protein fragments. Image by Aleixandre Rodrigo-Navarro and Jake Hay

video abstract of our recent paper published on the journal Advanced Materials is now available on youtube.

Bacteria‐Based Materials for Stem Cell Engineering” reports our latest progress in our living biointerfaces line of research. Jake, Alex and the rest of the team utilise genetically modified non-pathogenic bacteria to control and direct stem cell biology!

CeMi news

CoSE Photography Competition

The College of Science & Engineering is running a Photography Competition and these are our entries!

Click on the pictures on the random gallery above to see the pictures in full size and read the captions. Tweet your reactions about them to us @theglasgowcemi and @UofGSciEng.

events

Glasgow Orthopaedic Research Initiative – miniGLORI 2018


Further to the GLORI meeting organised back in February 2018 Dr Penelope M Tsimbouri has organised a smaller and vibrant “miniGLORI” involving people working on bone marrow related projects and more. Please RSVP with Dr Tsimbouri if you plan to attend. Hold the date for miniGLORI 2018!
When: Friday 23rd of November, 1:30-4:30pm.
Venue: room 526 James Watt South Building, University of Glasgow.

GLORI was founded in 2009 by MD Mr Dominic Meek and Prof Matt Dalby to encourage collaboration towards clinical translation of research, with a focus on next-generation orthopaedic care. It combines expertise from orthopaedic surgeons, biologists, engineers and chemists from Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities.

Agenda for miniGLORI2018 here in printable pdf format

Session 1
13:30 Prof Matt Dalby/Prof Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez/Mr Dominic Meek: “Introduction”
13:35 Virginia Llopis-Hernandez: social media @theglasgowcemi
13:40 Ian Kennedy: “Nanoscale vibrations to modulate osteogenesis”
13:55 Sara Trujillo Muñoz: “Fibronectin hydrogels for the vascularisation of bone”
14:10 Tom Hodgkinson: “Identification and in vitro screening of osteogenic metabolites through supplement-free nanovibration-driven mesenchymal stem cell differentiation”
14:25 Oana Dobre: “Hybrid Laminin-based hydrogels for efficient presentation of growth factors”

14:40 -15:10 Break

Session 2
15:10 Hannah Donnelly: “Synergistic integrin-growth factor microenvironments to bioengineer the bone marrow niche”
15:25 William Marshall: “Fracture non-union in dogs and cats: engineering a solution”
15:40 Katie Douglas: “Investigating dormancy and awakening of pancreatic cancer using tunable 3D hydrogels”
15:55 Jake Cason: “Investigating cancer cell dormancy and recurrence in the bone marrow niche”
16:10 Discussion
16:30 End of meeting

CeMi paper

Making stem cells feel at home

Stem cells can develop into many different cell types and allow our bodies to heal, such as when making new bone after a fracture. The immediate environment around them is highly specialised, it conveys both mechanical and chemical signals to the stem cells, and this has a big effect on their activity. They ‘decide’ what to do, what to become, depending on the interactions with this surrounding environment, which is termed the stem cell niche.

Our group in the Glasgow CeMi studies how stem cells interact with these niche environments and how this knowledge can be applied for regenerative medicine and therapeutic discoveries. PhD student Ms Hannah Donnelly and Professors Matt Dalby and Manuel Salmeron-Sanchez have just published a review article in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, where they discuss new in vitro culture systems and biomaterial strategies that are able to seize particular features of stem cell niches. These strategies are being used to engineer more physiological-like models, that are more accurate than current more simplified technologies that do not recreate the tissue complexity seen in the body. For instance, with some of these new models more accurate predictions about the success of new molecules can be made in drug discovery, before reaching animal or human testing stages.

The review explores models and strategies for stem cell differentiation and self-renewal that use surface topography, mechanical properties from the macro to the micro/nano scale, cells adhesion controlled through a variety of surface chemical ligands, and how the complex interrelation between all these parameters can be harnessed for use in regenerative medicine.

The complexity of the stem cell microenvironment
events, Uncategorized

Shortlisted! THE Awards 2018, Research Project of the Year: STEM category

We have been shortlisted for the Times Higher Education Awards 2018 with our FABW funded project for bone repair technologies. We are in the Research Project of the Year: STEM category. The award ceremony is scheduled for the 29th of November in London.

More details about the shortlisting and the project in this blog post in our funder’s website.

Follow the story in Twitter too!

events

Curiosity Live weekend at the Glasgow Science Festival

What a thrilling experience this weekend at the Glasgow Science Center. It feels so great and cool to explain our work to people from all backgrounds and ages. Over this weekend we’ve seen many groups of kids and also parents and seniors. I start my pitch and look at their faces to adapt and make it simpler or go into further details. I talk about our work with bone regeneration technologies, new materials and understanding of stem cell biology. It’s amazing how much all people are interested and fascinated by science.

Kids loved anything that can be touched, like our jelly experiments to test different stiffness of gels and our mystery box of hard and soft tissues. Kids and adults alike lit up when looking through the microscopes. We looked at samples of a bone chip and a 3D printed synthetic material mimicking the natural bone scaffold structure. We had stem cells that had been previously prepared in our labs to be differentiated to bone, muscle or fat cells, showing their different morphologies and features of the cells. Most adults that stopped and engaged with any of us stayed for the whole pack of talks and stations that we have prepared. Some kids and adults are not immediately interested or understand what we are talking about, and those challenges become also a very rewarding experience and a great test for our knowledge of the matter at hand.

We’ve had for a few weeks a team at CeMi creating all the materials and activities at our stall. Most of it has been nothing super fancy, although it took quite some time and thinking to prepare, like gelatin gels with a range of stiffness, plastic 3D printed pieces for models, and posters and videos for the stall screens, all incredibly useful to help with talks and conversations. It has been very motivating to see how much people have enjoyed just talking to us. We looked really nice and sharp with our new polo shirts with the CeMi logo!

The Curiosity Live event at the Glasgow Science Centre ran 15th – 17th June as part of the Glasgow Science Festival 2018, with researchers on hand to celebrate and share their exciting research with visitors.

This post was written by Andres Alba-Perez from notes by Cristina Gonzalez-Garcia.