CeMi paper

Three cool covers

We have started the year with three of our latest papers featured on the covers of journals. The researchers that produced the papers are giddy with happiness to have these incredibly pretty pieces of art to show off. Thanks to the very talented Mark, Sara and Alex!

These are the papers:

High Efficiency BMP‐2 Coatings: Nanoscale Coatings for Ultralow Dose BMP‐2‐Driven Regeneration of Critical‐Sized Bone Defects. Zhe A. Cheng et al.  Adv. Sci. 2/2019.

Tissue Engineering: Functionalization of PLLA with Polymer Brushes to Trigger the Assembly of Fibronectin into Nanonetworks. Mark Robert Sprott et al. Adv. Healthcare Mater. 3/2019.

Boron Ions: Simultaneous Boron Ion‐Channel/Growth Factor Receptor Activation for Enhanced Vascularization. Patricia Rico et al. Adv. Biosys. 1/2019.


CeMi news, events

Anglo-Thai Society Educational Award

“Sawasdee khrap”, I’m Wich, I’m currently a member of staff of the department of Orthopedics, Faculty of medicine, Prince of Songkla University (PSU), Thailand, and I’m studying for a PhD at the Centre for Cellular Microenvironment (CEMI), Institute for Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology (ICMSB), University of Glasgow. 

Recently, I attended the Anglo-Thai Society Educational Award ceremony at the Oriental Club, London on 16thNovember 2018. The Educational Awards 2018 aims to acknowledge the achievement and excellence of Thai students carrying out research at British universities. This year, I was very lucky in achieving this award. I am honored to be selected for a winner in medical science and would like to thank the Anglo-Thai Society and Thai Business development for generously providing this award. 

I would like to thank the Thai Government and Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University, Thailand for giving me the opportunity to study at the University of Glasgow. I am sincerely grateful to Professor Matthew Dalby and Dr. Monica Tsimbouri for their great supervision and support. I respectfully thank to Asst Prof. Kanyika Chamniprasas and PSU orthopedic staff for their support during my training to become an orthopedic. I also would like to thank and recognize the support of all my colleagues in the CeMi (Carol-Anne, Ewan, Tom, Virginia, Peter C, Paul C, Shaun), IBME(PSU), Dr. Somyot Chirasatitsin, my family and many people who had ever helped me. 

The ceremony was gorgeous. We enjoyed the yummy international cocktail food, Thai beer, champagne, etc. I was so impressed to see my supervisor (Dr. Monica) in a new look (not lab coat and pipettes). 

We are collaborating with Prof. Stuart Reid, University of Strathclyde, and are developing a bioreactor to drive stem cells for bone tissue engineering using the nanoscale vibration (Nanokicking Bioreactor). My PhD thesis focuses on developing collagen hydrogel-sponge composite seeded with human stem cells which can be delivered to clinics in a handleable manner, suitable for surgery as well as allow nanovibrational stimulation to grow bone cells. I am also investigating biological mechanisms of nanovibration related to free radical signaling for further understanding of the stimulation effects.

Working in the CeMi, has vibrated my mind (underneath the tone between B and C note at 6thoctave; we are stimulating our cells with 1000 Hz). This allowed me to immerse myself into the mechano-biology among the jazzy improvisation of scientists. This harmony sparkled and triggered my cellular pathways ideas. Thank you so much for allowing me to live in this home (really home!).



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…’


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.


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