Stem Cell Day 2018
What can we learn about stem cells in the laboratory? How can stem cells help us understand diseases? Can we use stem cells to understand how the organs develop and grow? DanStem scientists focus on research questions that will advance knowledge about how an organism develops from a single cell, and how healthy cells replace the damaged ones in adult organisms. Stem cells are a great tool for this purpose, and DanStem research groups are already using them in the laboratory to screen new drugs and to develop model systems to study normal growth and identify the causes of birth defects.
By: PhD students Jan-Erik Messling and Niels Alvaro Menezes and Pre-doc student Kata Krizic.
In an effort to communicate the scientific and societal aspects of stem cell research, 150 Danish high school students got together with scientists from DanStem on 23rd November 2018, for an entire day of exciting and engaging events. The aim of the Stem Cell Day is to encourage students to learn more about science, and to inspire them towards a career in research. This outreach initiative focused on facilitating an interactive and stimulating environment where students could ask questions and gather feedback, as well as participate in workshops relevant to stem cell biology.
This unique opportunity to interact with scientists at the forefront of stem cell research has shown the students the potential of stem cells, and how the information gained from basic research can be translated into knowledge that has clinical applications.
The Stem Cell Day 2018 began with an introductory lecture by Professor Joshua Brickman, who enlightened the students with an intellectually stimulating, yet intelligible take on early development and stem cell biology. The students left the seminar hall enriched with ideas.
Next, the students participated in practical and theoretical workshops, divided into smaller groups based on themes. During the practical workshops, the students got hands-on experience with various molecular biology and stem cell research techniques, as well as handling different animal models. This was an exciting opportunity for them to view stem cells under the microscope, and learn more about their relevance for disease modelling. The students observed chicken eggs, and frog, mouse, and zebrafish early development under the microscope. During the model organism workshops, the students learnt to dissect fertilized chicken eggs, observed the developing embryo, and realized the importance of using model organisms to study the development of organs such as the heart, blood, etc., that are important to address questions related to development, health and disease.
Many different aspects of stem cell research were discussed in interactive sessions. The students were able to choose from a broad range of topics, from bioinformatics and computational modelling, cellular differentiation and cell-fate decisions to understanding how scientists study the underlying molecular mechanisms of blood cancer. The students got a better insight into how bioinformatics and computational models can be used to assist our understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying organogenesis, tissue homeostasis and disease. DanStem scientists discussed life and career-related decisions that motivated the students to ask questions about scientific research paths.
The Stem Cell Day concluded with an interactive lecture followed by an open discussion session chaired by Senior Scientist Mette Christine Jørgensen (DanStem), in which the students explored the ethical implications and moral boundaries that are associated with stem cell research.
Overall, the “Stem Cell Day 2018” was a great success. DanStem employees received enthusiastic feedback from the students and the accompanying teachers. The DanStem scientists were delighted with the opportunity to engage and share their knowledge and experience with a new generation of students. This reflects on the importance of outreach related to stem cell biology and the impact of stem cell research on society.
About The Stem Cell Day
The DanStem annual 'Stem Cell Day' is a full-day event providing a fascinating journey into stem cell research. The event is dedicated to high school students and are part of the UniStem Initiative. On this day over 70 Universities and Research Centers all over Europe disseminate and promote scientific knowledge and research by providing clarity on the issue of stem cells.