A Limit to “Wonder Metal”

Titanium and its alloys are essential engineering materials. Owing to their fantastic combination of mechanical properties, they can be found in a variety of applications, such as jet engine blades and golf club heads. They are also valuable biomaterials due to their excellent corrosion resistance and biocompatibility. In the biomedical industry, titanium alloys found use in implant devices, for example, dental implants and the stem of a hip replacement. It is no wonder that they are called wonder material. Though their strength is many, titanium and its alloys’ use are still limited due to its apparent weakness, namely, its tribological properties. This means titanium alloys are not ideal in applications where they are in moving contact with another material/component.

Titanium’s poor wear characteristics have been well documented for decades. Among the many explanations, the three highly cited reasons for titanium’s poor tribological properties are [1]:

1. Low work-hardening capability
2. Insufficient protective capability from their tribo-oxides

In the biomedical industry, this means titanium and its alloys are not the best materials to use in joint replacement. In fact, titanium is an inferior material to cobalt-chromium alloys simply because titanium has a more damaging effect on the plastic liner of a joint component, which results in a lower life of the joint replacement as a whole [2].

Currently, there are many research studies that try to improve the wear characteristics of titanium. Naturally, many of those are focused on improving the surface of the material since the wear is a surface phenomenon. The advancement of metal additive manufacturing may also pave the way for more opportunities to improve the wear characteristics of titanium. Indeed, this is also my personal research focus. With the many controllable parameters in additive manufacturing, e.g., scanning strategies, laser parameters, and powder composition, I hope to manufacture a better titanium surface that will be more appropriate for tribological properties. When I achieve that, you’ll be sure to hear it in BioTrib’s blog!


[1] X. X. Li, Q. Y. Zhang, Y. Zhou, J. Q. Liu, K. M. Chen, and S. Q. Wang, “Mild and Severe Wear of Titanium Alloys,” Tribol. Lett., vol. 61, no. 2, p. 14, Feb. 2016, doi: 10.1007/s11249-015-0637-8.
[2] M. Long and H. J. Rack, “Titanium alloys in total joint replacement—a materials science perspective,” Biomaterials, vol. 19, no. 18, pp. 1621–1639, Sep. 1998, doi: 10.1016/S0142-9612(97)00146-4.


This article was written by Vidhiaza Leviandhika as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.

Dilesh is researching the Development of Development of 3D-printed gradient alloys for joint implant component at Uppsala University, Sweden

World Economic Forum and ETH – RETHINKING LIVING

In May 2022, around 2,000 business leaders and politicians have been in Davos, in Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meeting. The WEF is an international non-governmental and lobbying organization based in Cologny, canton of Geneva, Switzerland. With the mission to “improve the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas”, it was founded in 1971 by German engineer and economist Klaus Schwab. The WEF is mostly known for its annual meeting in Davos. Over the course of five days, 3,000 paying members and selected participants – including investors, business leaders, politicians, economists, celebrities, and journalists – discuss global issues.

During the WEF Annual Meeting 2022, ETH Zurich hosts several exclusive events in its RETHINKING LIVING Pavilion. RETHINKING LIVING, created in the spirit of ETH alumnus A. Einstein: ”The important thing is not to stop questioning”, brings together scientists, industry experts, and outstanding global thinkers from ETH Zurich and across the world with the aim to re-think different conceptions of living, re-evaluate life choices, and re-consider the changes needed in a post-pandemic world. Will new technologies build a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable world? On the occasion of the WEF Annual Meeting and to incite exchange, three pioneering exhibits explore the human coexistence in different dimensions: the physical, “White Tower”, the cyber-physical, ”no1s1″ house, and the completely virtual, ”Digital Einstein”.

The White Tower (Cultural site and highest 3d printed building – see header image, credit to Hansmeyer/Dillenburger).

The White Tower is a 29-meter tall, entirely 3D printed building located along the Julier mountain pass in the remote Swiss village of Mulegns. The tower offers exhibitions, performances, and music. It aims to revitalize a village in decline and to describe the rich cultural history of Mulegns and its surroundings. A large portion of the tower will be built in an on-site fabrication lab. In this way, the tower provides digital skills to the mountain regions and advances local trade. It serves as a demonstration of the groundbreaking possibilities of computational design and digital fabrication, which will fundamentally change conventional buildings in the years to come.

No1s1 (no-one’s-one) rethinks collective goods and ownership. It is the first house on the blockchain that can be used by anyone but it belongs to no one. It runs itself and rents itself out. This concept of self-ownership aims to create a digital ecosystem of people, and artificial things. The prototype is a meditation cabin that disattends the usual economic and social expectations. It is decorated with LED lights, connected to a solar panel, and has comfortable seats for meditation inside. No1s1 aims to become an alternative model for real estate and infrastructure.

No1s1 Digital House. Credit Hongyang Wang

The final idea is a “Nature 2.0’’’, a self-sustaining human infrastructure that manages and regulates itself like a natural ecosystem. To celebrate the 100 years of Einstein’s Nobel Prize in Physics, ETH Zurich brings its most famous alumnus to life as an animated character. The implemented platform offers an opportunity to interact with a digital Einstein.

Albert Einstein studied at ETH Zurich between 1896 and 1900, graduating with a diploma in mathematics and natural sciences, and afterward obtained his doctorate at the University of Zurich. After some time in Bern, Einstein returned to his alma mater as a professor of theoretical physics between 1912 and 1914. In the interactive platform, a digital Einstein talks about his years in Zurich. The project is part of the university’s strategy to boost dialogue with society and to bring young people closer to science. Digital Einstein will be taking up his post at various locations around ETH and, eventually, abroad.

Nature 2.0 – brining Einstein to life. Credit: ETH Zurich / Nicole Davidson



This article was written by Elisa Bissacco as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.

She is studying a PhD in Tribological Characteristics of Nanofibrous Electrospun Materials at ETH Zurich.

Porosity control and influence in 3D bioprinted scaffolds

Header Image: Schematic representation of scaffolds characterized by three different lay-down patterns. (a) 0◦/90◦. (b) 0◦/60◦/120◦. (c) 0◦/45◦/90◦/135◦. [1]

The main objective of 3D bioprinting is to recreate human tissues with the same mechanical, structural and biological properties as the corresponding native tissue, in order to solve the problems associated with conventional transplantation techniques (donor site morbidity, organ shortage, etc.). For this purpose, different cell types combined with different biomaterials have been bioprinted according to specific models, but obtaining a 3D scaffold with the desired properties remains a challenge.

The advantage of 3D bioprinting over conventional scaffold fabrication techniques is the ability to control the 3D architecture of scaffolds through parameters such as pore size and geometry. Pore size and shape influence the resulting mechanical properties as well as cell behavior and tissue growth over time. Domingos et al. showed that for a lay down pattern of 0◦/90◦ (filament orientation between layers) with different pore sizes, poly(ε-caprolactone) scaffolds with smaller pores exhibit significantly higher stiffness under compressive conditions, which is an important property in applications such as bone tissue engineering. For different pore shapes with the following lay down pattern: 0◦/90◦, 0◦/60◦/120◦ and 0◦/45◦/90◦/135◦ (see figure) and the same porosity, the increasing number of angles between the filaments of the different layers leads to an increase in the deformability of the construct under compressive conditions.

Regarding the influence of architecture on cell behavior, viability and proliferation of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) were studied for 21 days and showed that larger pores with a lay down pattern of 0◦/90◦ improve viability and proliferation.



This article was written by Marie Moulin as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.

Marie is researching the Bioprinting of Bone and Cartilage at Uppsala University, Sweden.

Challenges in medical device development: using metrology to unlock the answers

On September 1st 2022, at the University of Leeds, we had the honour to attend a presentation from Dr Paul Bills, reader of the BioMetrology group at the University of Huddersfield and co-investigator in the EPSRC Future Metrology Hub. His lecture – titled “Challenges in medical device development: using metrology to unlock the answers” – tackled significant aspects of advanced metrology tools that help assess personalised medical devices. This is of great relevance due to the current paradigm shift in the fabrication of these high-added value components via incorporating additive manufacturing (AM) in their production chain.

Watch Paul Bills leacture on the Challenges in medical device development: using metrology to unlock the answers below:

Dr Bills lecture went beyond the usual citation of the well-known advantages of AM in the orthopaedic field (e.g., high degree of customisation, sustainability, short lead time). One interesting topic that was discussed regarded the current gap in the literature regarding the interplay between osseointegration and infection in additively manufactured orthopaedic porous implants. These AM trabecular-like structures need further microbiological testing because they might be potential sites for deep and late infection. Furthermore, the lack of specification for components conceived by AM which possess an intricate geometry is another challenge yet to be overcome. In-situ metrology techniques could be employed to address that issue. In short, even though many advancements have been made in understanding the behaviour of AM orthopaedic implants, there is still a lot to be discovered from a metrology point of view. Understanding these will be important in ensuring the reliability of the technology for the production of implants in the orthopaedic field.

This post was written by Pedro Luiz Lima dos Santos as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.

Pedro is researching the Functional Biotribology of the Surface Engineering of 3D Printed Components at the University of Leeds, UK.

Flooding in Pakistan

While Europe deals with severe drought ‘thought to be one of the worst ever witnessed in the continent’, another country in Asia is dealing with the other side of the spectrum. Pakistan, a South Asian country having an area roughly equivalent to combined total of Germany and France and home to the fifth largest population in the world, has been flooded with excessive rains, the worst in the country’s history. A country whose rainfall average is barely 200 mm in a good year has seen rainfalls of more than 800 mm this year on average and above 1000 mm in some regions, resulting in uncontrollable urban and flash floods, landslides, across the country. More than 60% of the country, equivalent to the total area of the UK, is under water at the moment of writing this post, 1,000+ people have lost their lives while the survivors struggle to feed their families and cattle as most of the agrarian land has been lost[1].

Left: Image of Pakistan taken on August 28 last year. Right: Image of Pakistan taken on August 28 this year with NASA’s MODIS satellite sensor

A country that is home to Himalayas and to ~7.500 glaciers, more than anywhere in the world outside of the polar regions has been facing severe climate change over the past few years. I remember growing up in Pakistan through the 90s and 2000’s. Over the years, the climate has significantly changed for worse, I have seen air conditioning moving from luxury to a necessity. Just in the month of April/May this year when a European starts to get in summer spirits, Pakistan was already witnessing temperatures ranging above 50°C, highest in the world for those months. Pakistan only contributes 0.5% to global carbon emissions yet it is the country predicted to lose all the glaciers and henceforth water supplies first.

As researchers we must not sit idle and await the eventual doom, rather it is our duty to rise up to the occasion and raise our voice / come up with solution to deal with climate crisis. A successful public awareness and collaboration campaign similar to ozone layer depletion campaign[2] is the need of the hour to push back on anti-climate change narrative, raise awareness in the general populace and develop global policy to contain the effects.

This article was written by Sallar Ali Qazi as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.

Sallar Ali Qazi is researching Mechanical and Tribo-Chemical Wear Modelling of Artificial Joint Prostheses at Imperial College London, UK


[1] Pakistan: 2022 Monsoon Floods – Situation Report: https://reliefweb.int/report/pakistan/pakistan-2022-monsoon-floods-situation-report-no-03-26-august-2022.
[2] https://theconversation.com/the-ozone-hole-is-both-an-environmental-success-story-and-an-enduring-global-threat-100524

Poly(electrolytes) applications for friction reduction

Header image: schematic of a polymer brush interface. 

Polyelectrolytes are charged polymers with special hydration properties. They are present in our bodies as sulfated glycosaminoglycans (e.g., chondroitin sulfate) and play an important role in lubrication and tissue homeostasis. Tissue engineering novelties are trying to bring the best out of the synthetic world, by mimicking the special properties of these electrolytes, grafted to all kinds of materials [1].

Kwon and Gong [2] studied the effect of negatively charged biomimetic polyelectrolytes for multiple applications, including low friction. Pavoor et al. [1] show the effects of the friction of grafting negatively poly(acrylic acid) and positively charged poly(allylamine hydrochloride) on ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene. Qin et al. [3] showed that the polydopamine-assisted immobilization of chitosan (net positive charge) can improve the biocompatibility and tribological properties of Cobalt Cromium implants. They demonstrated a tenfold decrease in the coefficient of friction upon brush-grafting.  


This article was written by André Plath as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.

André is researching Boundary Lubrication of Fibrous Scaffolds at ETH Zürich, Switzerland.





[1]          P.V. Pavoor, B.P. Gearing, O. Muratoglu, R.E. Cohen, A. Bellare, Wear reduction of orthopaedic bearing surfaces using polyelectrolyte multilayer nanocoatings, Biomaterials. 27 (2006) 1527–1533. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biomaterials.2005.08.022.

[2]          H.J. Kwon, J.P. Gong, Negatively charged polyelectrolyte gels as bio-tissue model system and for biomedical application, Current Opinion in Colloid & Interface Science. 11 (2006) 345–350. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cocis.2006.09.006.

[3]          L. Qin, H. Sun, M. Hafezi, Y. Zhang, Polydopamine-Assisted Immobilization of Chitosan Brushes on a Textured CoCrMo Alloy to Improve its Tribology and Biocompatibility, Materials. 12 (2019) 3014. https://doi.org/10.3390/ma12183014.    

Hip Arthroplasty Register

Total hip arthroplasty (THA) or total hip replacement is one of the most cost effective and reliable surgical operation. This operation consists in replacing the hip joint by prosthetic components allowing the patient suffering from hip pathology (ex: osteoarthritis) to restore painless motion and improve quality of life. For this surgical procedure, different models of implants are available (materials, shape, size and fixation methods) and surgeons decide depending on the age, pathology and medical history of the patient which implant characteristics would suit best. Joint implants are made to stay viable for the longest time possible in the body without revision surgery (second surgery related to an earlier inserted hip prosthesis). Revision surgery can occur after different complications like: repeated dislocation, infection or loosening of the implant and periprosthetic fracture [1].

In order to identify factor contributing to revision surgery and improve surgery procedure, national patient registries have been used in several countries. In 1979, Sweden was the first country to establish a national quality register collecting data on hip arthroplasty: the Swedish Hip Arthroplasty Register (SHAR). Nowadays a lot of countries possess regional and or national Hip Arthroplasty registers like Finland (1980), Norway (1989), Denmark (1995), Australia (1999), England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man (2002). The main objective is to centralize information within the country to follow the evolution of the number of total hip surgery, revision surgery as well as the prevalence in certain age group. Indeed, annual report are published to summarize data collected.

More importantly, registries are used to collect data on the patient, the surgical procedure and operation outcomes. The principal advantage is the possibility to investigate adverse outcomes of primary THA leading to revision surgery and improve surgical procedure. National registries play a major role in documenting the quality of THA to describe best practices and report outlier implants [2]. The 2019 Swedish Hip Arthroplasty Register report mention that “Never have so many hip arthroplasties been undertaken and never have so many research papers using data from the register been published during one operational year” [3].


[1] Varacallo M, Luo TD, Johanson NA. Total Hip Arthroplasty Techniques. 2022 Jul 4. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan.
[2] Varnum C, Pedersen AB, Rolfson O, Rogmark C, Furnes O, Hallan G, Mäkelä K, de Steiger R, Porter M, Overgaard S. Impact of hip arthroplasty registers on orthopaedic practice and perspectives for the future. EFORT Open Rev. 2019 Jun; 4(6):368-376. doi: 10.1302/2058-5241.4.180091.
[3] Kärrholm J, Rogmark C, Naucler E, Nåtman J, Vinblad J, Mohaddes M, Rolfson O. Swedish Hip Arthroplasty Register Annual report 2019. 2021 Feb. doi: 10.18158/H1BdmrOWu.

This article was written by Marie Moulin as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.

Marie is researching the Bioprinting of Bone and Cartilage at Uppsala University, Sweden.

The significance of chamber temperature for FDM printing

Stratasys Ltd. introduced and commercialized fused filament fabrication (FFF) in 1989, under the patent name of fused deposition modelling (FDM). In this technique, the polymer/polymer composites filament are extruded from the nozzle head and then the melted polymer is deposited layer by layer to create the final product. Polycarbonate (PC), polylactic acid (PLA), and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) are the most commonly used thermoplastics for FDM. It is also compatible with PP, PVA, and bio-compatible PEEK. FDM is by far the most popular 3D printing method, accounting for more than 41.5 percent of the market (2010) [1]

The main defects found in FDM printed parts are void formation and geometrical deformation. Poor interlayer bonding caused by a difference in cooling rate has a negative impact on material quality. Interlayer bonding was improved in a recent study with CF/PEEK printing [2] when a high chamber environment was provided, which reduced the stress acting between the layers. Figure 1 depicts the temperature distribution of the printed parts after printing at various chamber temperatures; uniform temperature distribution was achieved at 230oC. This allows the heat from the top layer, which was recently deposited through the nozzle at high temperatures, to dissipate, gradually eliminating structural imperfections. The thickness of primary and secondary crystals increases as chamber temperature rises, positively impacting the structural and mechanical properties of the printed parts. This has the added benefit of reducing shrinkage and warpage, which are other common issues with FDM printing.

In addition to the chamber temperature, numerous other parameters must be controlled, including nozzle temperature, print speed, layer thickness, infill density, infill pattern, raster angle, and so on, all of which have an impact on the surface and bulk properties of the printed parts.

Header Image: Heat distribution detected for different chamber temperature [2]

This article was written by Dilesh Raj Shrestha as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.

Dilesh is researching the Development of 3D-printable, self-lubricated polymer composites with improved wear resistance for total joint replacement at Luleå University of Technology, Sweden.


[1]        P. Parandoush and D. Lin, “A review on additive manufacturing of polymer-fiber composites,” Composite Structures, vol. 182, pp. 36–53, Dec. 2017, doi: 10.1016/J.COMPSTRUCT.2017.08.088.

[2]        K. Rodzeń, E. Harkin-Jones, M. Wegrzyn, P. K. Sharma, and A. Zhigunov, “Improvement of the layer-layer adhesion in FFF 3D printed PEEK/carbon fibre composites,” Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing, vol. 149, p. 106532, Oct. 2021, doi: 10.1016/J.COMPOSITESA.2021.106532.

Maryam Mirzakhani: first female Fields Medal winner

Being awarded the Fields Medal, which is the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for Mathematics, is the highest professional honor for mathematicians. This prestigious international award is given every four years to mathematicians under the age of 40. Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian mathematician, was the first woman to reach the pinnacle of math and the only female to win this prestigious prize until now. Her achievements are absolutely astounding, linking geometry and dynamics together [1].

Maryam was born on 12th May 1977 in Tehran, Iran. Interestingly, as a child, she was very keen on reading novels as well as making up stories, and she thought she would be a writer. But she soon got highly interested in mathematics [3]. She could obtain a gold medal at the International Mathematical Olympiad in 1994, scoring 41 out of 42 [2,3]. In the following year, she earned another gold medal at this competition with a perfect score [2,3]. In 1999, Maryam obtained her B.Sc. degree in mathematics from the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran. Then, she pursued her Ph.D. program at Harvard University. Her Ph.D. thesis is considered a masterpiece and led to three papers in top journals in mathematics.

Maryam became a research fellow of the Clay Mathematics Institute and a professor at Princeton University in 2004. Five years later, she continued her career at the Department of Mathematics of Stanford University. Her research was mainly focused on the theory of modular spaces of Riemann surfaces. She also contributed enormously to the fields of hyperbolic geometry, ergodic theory, and symplectic geometry. Finally, Maryam made history in 2014 and became the first woman and the first Iranian awarded a Fields Medal.

Unfortunately, this young female mathematician was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 and passed away on 14th July 2017 at the age of 40. The mathematics community lost one of the brightest stars, a woman who could inspire many people, particularly all the girls, to follow their dreams to succeed. It is worthwhile to mention that the International Council for Science declared Maryam Mirzakhani’s birthday, 12 May, as International Women in Mathematics Day in respect of her memory.

Header Image: Fields Medal, Maryam Mirzakhani

This article was written by Mahdieh Mosayebias part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.

Mahdieh is researching the Design of Self Lubricating Prothesis at ETH Zurich, Switzerland.

Advances in non-invasive skin cancer imaging

Header Image:  Schematic in-vivo skin cancer imaging, with a synthetic bandwidth of 98 GHz using the designed ultra-wideband millimeter-wave imaging system.

Chances of early skin cancer treatment and intervention are enabled through tissue biopsy; prescribed by doctors when they suspect abnormal cell growth. The process itself requires doctors to harvest a sample of suspect tissue from individuals for external laboratory testing, leaving the patients with pain and wounds that take a long time to heal along with a period of uncertainty around cancer diagnosis whilst the sample is analysed.

However, a group of researchers from the Stevens Institute of Technology recently developed a technology to investigate abnormal tissues in-vivo and in real time by scanning a patient’s skin using millimetre-wave imaging technology, which is the same technology used in airport security scanners.

By examining 72 patients they were able to correctly differentiate benign and malignant lesions according to the way that the skin was reflecting light back. According to the research team, this happens due to the changes in the chemical composition of the cells. By utilizing an algorithm they are able to gather information and produce a 3D image in seconds even for the tiniest mole or imperfections indicative of cancer.

The device had a sensitivity and specificity of 97-98% and is comparable to even the greatest hospital-grade diagnostic instruments. Even though there are other devices available, those are not available in every clinic because of their size and cost. The technology that the team is developing is poised to integrate all the antennas and their circuits in a single chip making the device very small and low in cost.


Mirbeik, Amir, Robin Ashinoff, Tannya Jong, Allison Aued, and Negar Tavassolian. “Real-time high-resolution millimeter-wave imaging for in-vivo skin cancer diagnosis.” Scientific Reports 12, no. 1 (2022): 1-10.

This article was written by Edona Hyla as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.

Edona’s research is focussing on Understanding the Nature, Origin and Degradation of Implant Debris at the University of Leeds, UK

Phenomenology of group hiking: BioTrib ESRs into the nature

Stepping out of the office and the concrete jungle, we found ourselves in a place where the mountains are reflecting sunlight and the snow is melting into music. When you struggle to pull out the leg stuck in the lap-high snow, you know you’re now reconnected to nature, swallowed up by the scene. Going on a hike is much more than refreshing our lungs with chill and delicious air, illuminating our sensations with splendid sceneries, or a physical workout with a limited source of food and water. It’s also an underrated choice for group activities.

What makes group hiking a good group activity? Consider these aspects:

Team building and group dynamics

✅ Interactions and conversations during the group hiking bring about the feeling of closeness and togetherness

✅ There must be a decision-maker leading the way and choosing the route, so you have to trust your teammates! As the leader or any member of the group, it’s important to make sure not to walk too fast and look after your mates who might be left behind

✅ Accomplishing a common goal (in this case, finishing the trail) with everyone’s presence and participation builds up the inclusiveness and strengthens the team spirit

The great outdoors

Leisure and Wellness

Pack only essential things and leave behind luxury supplements as well as tasks that are undone can be mentally challenging, but the tension is instantly released the moment you are on your way

While finding our balance of walking on snowy, slippery trails, we focus on very minimum things: breathing and steps, which distracts us from all the complexity of real life. This simplicity brings the mental calmness and quietness

A break from the daily routine helps a lot with regenerating the efficiency and improving the performance at work. When your mental battery is drained off, go on a hike and come back with a fully charged one

The glimpse of the million-year-old landscape reminded us of the infinity of the world and the smallness and finitude of being, meanwhile inspiring us with the courage and strength of people who conquered nature before us!

A big shout out to everyone involved in organising such a fantastic trip!


Bongaardt, Rob, Idun Røseth, and Børge Baklien. “Hiking leisure: Generating a different existence within everyday life.” SAGE Open 6.4 (2016): 2158244016681395.

This post was written by Esperanza Shi as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.

Esperanza is researching the Optimisation of Scanning Strategies for 3D Printed Artificial Joints at Imperial College London, UK.

Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the United Nation General Assembly adopted the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs, see figure) described as a “universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity” [1]. These goals follow the previous set of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted in 1990 which were focused on reducing poverty, easing hunger and child mortality, and improving access to clean water and sanitation. As the consequences of climate change, like increased air pollution, sea level rise, drought, disappearance of ecosystems are affecting negatively more and more populations, the United Nation oriented the SDGs toward the limitation of climate change. Sustainable development aims at managing human activity to meet today’s population needs without compromising resources for future generations.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nation body responsible for assessing the science of climate change, reminds us that climate change and sustainable development are fundamentally connected. Indeed, limiting global warming can make it much easier to achieve the SDGs. Moreover, the connection is also made in a sense that, as mentioned previously, some of the SDGs are specifically dedicated to counteracting the effect of climate change, such as SDG 14 (life below water) and 15 (life on land) for protecting ecosystems, and SDG 13 (climate action) for taking urgent action to combat climate change. The result of this close link is that action in one area of the SDGs will affect outcomes in other areas, such as climate adaptation measures that benefit local ecosystems and health. The IPCC highlights the fact that adaptation measures have to be taken at all levels in order to favorize synergy between the different goals for sustainable development [2].

Biomedical research trying to improve patient’s everyday life can be used to support goal number 3: good health and well-being. As we are working in order to be useful to people, how can we make research activity more sustainable in practice from an environmental perspective? In 2020 an article titled “Ten simple rules to make your research more sustainable” was published in Plos Computational Biology by Anne-Laure Ligozat et al. In this article, the authors based their reflection on the SDGs and underline the fact that all human activity including research needs to be more sustainable by reducing the carbon footprint and environmental impact [3].
The ten rules described in the article are the following:

  1. Small actions are a good start to modify habits step by step.
  2. Be informed about carbon emitting activities and environmental issues. It can be done through reading summaries of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports or by being trained through formations and courses.
  3. Prefer train over plane to go to scientific meetings to limit CO2 emissions.
  4. Take advantage of remote participation to limit long distance travels.
  5. Work collectively and reproducibly through open science and sharing knowledge.
  6. Encourage bottom-up sustainable initiatives to engage the community.
  7. Evaluate the impact of the research practices.
  8. Ask sustainability research questions.
  9. Transfer ecofriendly gestures from home to the lab like plastic use limitation and recycling. A correspondence published in Nature in 2015 also mentioned the fact that labs should cut plastic waste too and that have greener lab practices could be a requirement in the grant application process [4].
  10. Raise awareness to go toward collective actions.

What stands out is that being informed and discuss this problematic are some of the most important points to initiate changes.

You can find more information about these rules in the article [3] and have a look at good practice initiative like S-Labs in the United Kingdom [5] and International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories in the USA [6].

[1] Sustainable Development Goals in action; available from: https://www.undp.org/sustainable-development-goals?utm_source=EN&utm_medium=GSR&utm_content=US_UNDP_PaidSearch_Brand_English&utm_campaign=CENTRAL&c_src=CENTRAL&c_src2=GSR&gclid=CjwKCAjwyryUBhBSEiwAGN5OCFL6AvKW_ek7MJUMPWuUrRmV5-DfWrhOAA3v4S-6FvClYTxBro7YKxoCYpAQAvD_BwE [cited 2022-05-30].

[2] What are the Connections between Sustainable Development and Limiting Global Warming to 1.5°C above Pre-Industrial Levels?; available from https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/faq/faq-chapter-5/ [cited 2022-05-30]

[3] Ligozat A-L, Névéol A, Daly B, Frenoux E (2020). Ten simple rules to make your research more sustainable. PLoS Comput Biol 16(9): e1008148. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1008148

[4] Urbina M, Watts A, Reardon E (2015). Labs should cut plastic waste too. Nature 528, 479. https://doi.org/10.1038/528479c

[5] Safe, Successful, Sustainable Lab; available from: http://www.effectivelab.org.uk/ [cited 2022-05-30].

[6] I2SL; available from: https://www.i2sl.org/ [cited 2022-05-30].

This article was written by Marie Moulin as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.

Marie is researching the Bioprinting of Bone and Cartilage at Uppsala University, Sweden.

Perceptions Of The Transgender Community In Academia

Transgender people are clearly under-represented in academia and in many spaces in society. How many transgender and non-binary teachers did you have from elementary school to the university? How many of them have you seen in the spaces and the places you often go?

The transgender community is clearly deprived of opportunities and pushed early on to violence, especially if they are from non-white ethnical groups. The discrimination against transgender people often starts with them receiving less protection from their families [1]. According to the Race and Equality and the National Association of Travestis and Transexuals of Brazil (ANTRA), the life expectancy of transgender people is only 35 years, and if they are black 28. In Brazil, about 90% of the transgender population works in prostitution. This stigmatizes them for their whole lives making them prone to violence, depression, and anxiety [1]. 19% to 47% of transgender people report suicide attempts[2], they also report considerably more harassment (50%) and hiring discrimination based on their identity (44%) [3]. According to Sansone, North American LGBTQ+ students are less likely to obtain a degree and have poorer GPAs compared to other students. They are also less likely to attend college and finish a degree [4].

Renata Borges, Brazilian activist, politician, and STEM student at UTFPR Apucarana in 2019’s protests against budget cuts organized by her.

Renata Borges, Brazilian politician, woman in STEM shares: “I believe that social inequalities are still largely responsible for the transsexual community not being seen or seeing itself in the field of science. The few of us who access higher education when entering the Academia find a white and sexist science standard. In addition, not surprising women scientists and researchers cannot fit into the cisgender society. It will take a few decades before one or some of us can take a leading role and occupy spaces that are ours by right in the academia.”

More than anything, we need to discuss policies to guarantee the success of trans people in school and higher education. Progress has been made in recognizing gay marriage and making it easier for trans people to transition in Europe; however, we still have a long way to go to guarantee every letter in the LGBTQ+ community worldwide is effectively seen and given the same opportunities.

This article was written by André Plath as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.

André is researching Boundary Lubrication of Fibrous Scaffolds at ETH Zürich, Switzerland.


As pessoas trans estão claramente sub-representadas na academia e em muitos espaços da sociedade. Quantos professores transgêneros e não-binários você teve desde o ensino fundamental até a universidade? Quantos deles você já viu nos espaços e nos lugares que frequenta?

A comunidade transgênero é claramente privada de oportunidades e empurrada desde cedo para a violência, especialmente se forem de grupos étnicos não brancos. A discriminação contra os transgêneros muitas vezes começa com eles recebendo menos proteção de suas famílias [1]. De acordo com a Raça e Igualdade e a Associação Nacional de Travestis e Transexuais do Brasil (ANTRA), a expectativa de vida das pessoas trans é de apenas 35 anos e, se forem negras, 28. No Brasil, cerca de 90% da população transgênero trabalha em prostituição. Isso os estigmatiza por toda a vida, tornando-os propensos à violência, depressão e ansiedade [1]. 19% a 47% das pessoas transgênero relatam tentativas de suicídio [2], elas também relatam consideravelmente mais assédio (50%) e discriminação de contratação com base em sua identidade (44%) [3]. De acordo com Sansone, os estudantes LGBTQ+ norte-americanos são menos propensos a obter um diploma e têm GPAs mais baixos em comparação com outros estudantes. Eles também são menos propensos a frequentar a faculdade e terminar um curso [4].

Renata Borges, política brasileira, mulher no STEM compartilha: “Acredito que as desigualdades sociais ainda são as grandes responsáveis ​​pela comunidade transexual não ser vista ou se ver no campo da ciência. Os poucos de nós que acessam o ensino superior ao entrar na Academia encontram um padrão de ciência branco e machista. Além disso, não é de surpreender que as mulheres cientistas e pesquisadoras não possam se encaixar na sociedade cisgênero. Levará algumas décadas até que um ou alguns de nós possam assumir um papel de liderança e ocupar espaços que são nossos por direito na academia.”

Mais do que tudo, precisamos discutir políticas para garantir o sucesso das pessoas trans na escola e no ensino superior. Houve progresso no reconhecimento do casamento gay e na facilitação da transição de pessoas trans na Europa; no entanto, ainda temos um longo caminho a percorrer para garantir que todas as cartas da comunidade LGBTQ+ em todo o mundo sejam efetivamente vistas e tenham as mesmas oportunidades.


[1]          D.C. Lefebvre, J.F. Domene, Workplace Experiences of Transgender Individuals: A Scoping Review, (2020) 29.

[2]          Q.A. Hunt, Q.J. Morrow, J.K. McGuire, Experiences of Suicide in Transgender Youth: A Qualitative, Community-Based Study, Archives of Suicide Research. 24 (2020) S340–S355. https://doi.org/10.1080/13811118.2019.1610677.

[3]          M. Granberg, P.A. Andersson, A. Ahmed, Hiring Discrimination Against Transgender People: Evidence from a Field Experiment, Labour Economics. 65 (2020) 101860. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.labeco.2020.101860.

[4]          D. Sansone, LGBT students: New evidence on demographics and educational outcomes, Economics of Education Review. 73 (2019) 101933. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econedurev.2019.101933. Associacao Nacional de Travestis e Transexuais. Dossier Murders and Violence against travestis and trans people in Brazil in 2019. Available at: < https://antrabrasil.org/international/>

BioTrib DePuy Visit

DePuy Manufacturing was established in Indiana in the 1890s. Since then they have grown into one of the world’s leading companies in Orthopaedics.

BioTrib Early Stage Researchers recently took part in the “All about patients and networking” event in Leeds visiting DePuy Synthesis, the Orthopaedics Company now owned by Johnson & Johnson. It was a pleasure to see the excellent work done in Research & Innovation towards developing new advances in joint replacement along with many other orthopaedic medical devices.

During the visit, the BioTrib group gained a lot of insight into the latest advancements and technologies from Johnson & Johnson MedTech including the latest experimental and validation methods of 3D printing technologies as part of the next generation of patient custom interventions. There was a great overview of all the stages of product delivery, from designing, manufacturing, and testing innovative MedTech solutions.

The visit itself was an invaluble experience for the Early Stage Researchers to get an overview of how their research can be implemented in Industry, the wider scope of medical device engineering, as well as a good opportunity to expand their professional networks.



This article was written by Edona Hyla as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.

Edona’s research is focussing on Understanding the Nature, Origin and Degradation of Implant Debris at the University of Leeds, UK


Space and Medicine: an unexpected connection

So many lives have been saved thanks to the Hubble Telescope.

It sounds incredible but, among the tens of thousands of examples of technologies and their positive impacts on human lives, there is one story that reminds us how remarkable space exploration can be. An extraordinary story that begins with a colossal failure.

Mammography with arrows highlighting artefacts indicative of breast cancer

The image shows a mammography, and the arrows indicate microcalcifications, which are sometimes the telltale sign of breast cancer.

It was possible to detect those microcalcifications sharply because of the legendary Hubble telescope. You may be wondering how.

At the beginning of its usage, the first Hubble images were blurry because the primary mirror had been over-smoothed and flattened 2 thousandths of a millimeter too much. It is roughly one-fiftieth the thickness of a sheet of paper, yet thick enough to bounce the incident light slightly out of focus. Thus, various techniques were developed to increase the dynamic range and spatial resolution of Hubble’s initially blurred images before detecting the true cause and repairing it.

These techniques had also been applied to medicine and, in this case, allowed doctors to detect calcifications in the female breast that were smaller than before and would otherwise have gone undetected, resulting in earlier diagnosis and treatment, which is critical as the earlier the cancer is detected and treated, the greater the chances of a patient making a full recovery.

This is only one of many, many, endless instances of how space research can improve our lives.

Furthermore, this is an excellent example of how, even when a project appears to fall short of its goals or is deemed a failure, the spillover effects on the daily lives of human beings can be enormous.

This article was written by Elisa Bissacco as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.

She is studying a PhD in Tribological Characteristics of Nanofibrous Electrospun Materials at ETH Zurich.