25 September 2021

Stem Cell Day is back in full swing

Public engagement

Fortunately, life is starting to snap back into pre-pandemic normality in Denmark, and therefore also at the University of Copenhagen/ DanStem.

Since 2015, DanStem has held an annual Stem Cell Day where scientists go out of the labs to reach out and disseminate their science to school students. The last event was held in 2019 (as in 2020 it was cancelled due to Corona restrictions). For that reason, September 24, 2021 marked an important milestone – DanStem could host the renowned Stem Cell Day once again.

On that day, a team of 15 scientists from DanStem was ready to welcome the Biotech students (grades 11 and 12) from Det Frie Gymnasium located in Nørrebro (Copenhagen area).

The Stem Cell Day is a full day event, dedicated to high school students. It was originated by UniStem (Italy), and includes over 70 Universities and Research Centers all over Europe that disseminate and promote scientific knowledge and research by providing clarity on stem cell biology and its applications.

Our guests, thirty students with their teacher, arrived at Mærsk Tower at 09:00 am, ready to interact with our scientists, learn about stem cellls and carry out some experiments. Shortly after an introduction to the day’s plan, Associate Professor and Group Leader Jan Zylicz gave an opening lecture about the use of stem cells in health and in disease.

 “I didn’t have the opportunity to talk with scientists as a student; therefore I see it as extremely important to tell young people about my fascinating career choice” .– Postdoc Sylvia Raineri (Serup Group)

"It was interesting to see the students’ reaction when we told them about the level of commitment involved in maintaining stem cells. It’s like taking care of babies". PhD student Heidi Mjøseng (Serup group)

Hands-on activities followed. Here the students had the opportunity to explore model organisms and see embryo development while dissecting chicken eggs. Another group used DanStem’s Virtual Reality (VR) lab to view blastocyst formation in 3D using a VR application and headsets.

The DanStem Virtual Reality engagement lab, Zooming-in allows generating large amount of 3D images and movies of organs, tissues, and cells, establishing scientific learning and exploration environments. Using virtual reality (VR) technology provides a meaningful direct and remote meeting space for scientists and visitors/students.

The day ended with an interactive lecture about stem cells, the current research status and the ethical problems related to this topic.

"I see it as a win-win situation. I disseminate scientific knowledge and at the same time improve my communication skills. It is not just important; it is an obligation we have as scientists, to go out of the labs and meet different segments of society. I have no doubt that I will do it again!"  Postdoc Kady Lohmussaar (Jensen group)

DanStem outreach team

Berta Vidal Pitarch, Heidi Mjøseng, Isidora Banjac, Ronja Heyne, Iris Unterweger, Elizabeth Ambrosio Galindo, Viktoria Lavro, Coline Gentil, Kadi Lõhmussaar, Silvia Raineri, Abigail Jackson, Tram Nguyen, Jan Zylicz, Gelo Dela Cruz, Alexandre Vanoosthuyse, Mette C. Jørgensen, Simone Wenkel and Oliver Norton