International Day of LGBTQIA+ People in STEM

November 18 is the International Day of LGBTQIA+ People in STEM, an opportunity to celebrate diversity within the BioTrib community and wider STEM fields! In parallel to outputting cutting edge biotribology and medical device research, BioTrib celebrates diversity within our worldwide community by endeavoring to use the resources and influence of BioTrib to advocate for and educate towards equality in STEM.

Inequality and equal representation in STEM is a vastly complex landscape with much progress to still be made – but we are heading in the right direction!  Following the recruitment of Early Stage Researchers, BioTrib will set in motion a dedicated Gender Opportunities Committee to critically identify how BioTrib can best use its network and community to improve inclusivity in STEM as well as engineering research.

BioTrib commits itself to raising awareness and promoting equality in STEM:

  • Gender Equality: Women in STEM are still vastly underrepresented in senior academic positions. Gender disparity grows as research careers progress, only one third of EU researchers are women with less than one quarter in top academic positions [European Commission 2020].
  • Equal Representation: Ethnicity STEM data [RSC, 2020] highlights consistent disparity in BAME degree completion rates, and outcomes, along with reduced retention and career progression in STEM. Presently STEM ethnic minority staff are much less likely to hold senior posts and contracts.
  • LGBTQIA+ in STEM: It is estimated LGBT people are approximately 20% less represented in STEM fields than expected [Cech, 2017]. With nearly 28% of LGBT and 50% of trans staff at least once considering leaving the workplace due to a climate of discrimination [RSC, IOP 2019].

Read more about BioTrib’s commitment to promoting equality.

The Power of Networking

Finding the right position for yourself, a future career or achieving your dreams can be a real challenge. You might scroll through different job or research adverts and not know what to choose. Having the best set of skills but not being sure where to apply them is a common obstacle that most of the people occur. There are high chances that there is a job just built for you, but you just did not get the occasion to face it. The chances on being at the right place in the right time are always higher if people around you are aware of what you are looking for. Small talks with friends or colleagues can bring up great deals.

The story of Edona and Yasmin, who met through Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Program in Tribology funded by the European Union is a great example on how powerful Networking can be!

During their master’s degree they were two house mates studying together having coffee talks after lectures while sharing their dreams and interests. While attending a conference in Coimbra, Portugal, where the main objective was about different methods of Microscopy utilized in different areas of science and engineering especially in Bioengineering, it took a walking back home for Yasmin to see Edona’s high interest in the field. Edona was showing her notes and articles she found related to bioengineering and the related Linked in pages that she follows with a lot of passion. Yasmin remembered her saying “There would be only one case I would be motivated enough to pursue a PhD, and that is only if it would relate to bioengineering”.

After accomplishing their master’s degree, Edona decided to join the industry working for the European Union Office in Kosovo and Yasmin perused her education through academia starting her PhD at University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. Although far in distance and in different fields they kept their contact through social media. One afternoon, Yasmin encountered on LinkedIn an exciting research opportunity in bio tribology at University of Leeds. She knew the research group and the supervision team by working in the same lab but in a different section. Having Edona’s interests in mind, right away she shared the link to her. The one and only condition that Edona would joined a PhD was just there a click away. As Edona got the link in time she could go through the job advert, research about it and write a powerful SOP. After different tasks and an interview for the extremely competitive role Edona got the position and is now part of the BioTrib Research Group.

Moral of the story is that:

Everything you want in life is a relationship away

Idowu Koyenikan

Building ties can save your time, bear you stress and if you know how to use it, it will be a powerful tool for your personal and professional development. Therefore, we suggest: Do not be afraid of sharing your ambitions and interests with people and always stay connected.

Featured Image: Edona Hyla with Yasmin Hayatgheib

This article was written by Edona Hyla, one of BioTrib’s newest Early Stage Researchers at the University of Leeds as part of a series of articles curated by BioTrib ESRs.

We need to talk about science outreach

Carl Sagan said: “We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.” (1) This thought was never so contemporaneous. We live in a world with a deadly pandemic, still, people reject vaccination, with a high dependency on satellites, and people that still believe the earth is flat. Some questions I ask myself are: How can we make academia more approachable to the great masses? How can we make our works more understandable? Do we have the right to be a part of decision-making (as scientists)?

ETH Magazine recently published a great debate with Prof. Nicola Nuti and Gunnar Jeschke. Prof. Nuti mentions science distrust comes to the lack of outreach of research institutions to the public. With this, the media can exaggerate or decontextualize claims. As a solution, professor Nuti mentions that academia should engage in public debate and adapt to the language of politics. On the other hand, Prof. Jeschke affirms scientists in the political debate tend to voice their personal opinions. He brilliantly mentions that the words “majority” and “authority” do nothing to spread knowledge (which makes me think about authority fallacies). He also points out that disagreements are common amongst specialists. (2)

I confess this is not an easy argument and has been puzzling me for years. I acknowledge the validity of the opposing points of view of the interviewed professors. However, the defunding of science is strongly related to deforestation and COVID deaths in my home country, Brazil (3). On the other hand, how can we be sure scientists voicing their opinions are not biased or cherry-picking evidence to support their claims. How do we assure they do not overuse their authority and the prestige of their titles to make their views prevail?

I do not mean to say a technocracy is a solution to our problems, much on the contrary. Aldous Huxley, Isaac Asimov, George Orwell, and other writers brilliantly imagined the perils of a world ruled by science and technology. However, perhaps, Carl Sagan has given a good argument as to why we should at least hear what specialists have to say: “One of the reasons for its success is that science has built-in, error-correcting machinery at its very heart. Some may consider this an overbroad characterization, but to me every time we exercise self-criticism, every time we test our ideas against the outside world, we are doing science. “(4) I believe politics and communication with more self-criticism and openness to debate, regardless of whether it is led by scientists or politicians, might help us progress and evolve as a society.   I also do believe that publicly funded science must return to society the investments made. Thus, I would vouch for more scientist outreach to the great audiences.

Image credit: “Carl Sagan (Cosmos)” by Javier is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


  1. Carl Sagan last interview: <> 28 oct. 21.
  2. Should researchers get involved in political debates. Nov 2021.
  3. Taylor, L. (2021). ‘We are being ignored’: Brazil’s researchers blame anti-science government for devastating COVID surge. In Nature (Vol. 593, Issue 7857, pp. 15–16). Springer Science and Business Media LLC.
  4. Sagan, C., & Druyan, A. (1996). The demon-haunted world: Science as a candle in the dark. New York: Random House.


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.


Pamela Ball: first Jamaican woman to gain the fellowship of The Royal College of Surgeons of England

Pamela Ball, FRCS, source: 29/10/21

Pamela Ball, a broadly skilled surgical officer mostly operating in Kidderminster and Wordsley in the UK Midlands, is the first Jamaican woman to gain the prestigious fellowship of The Royal College of Surgeons of England.

She was born Pamela Margaret Moody in Kingston, Jamaica. Her father is also a trailblazing Jamaican medic, who after moving to study medicine at King’s College London and in 1919 became the first Jamaican to pass the MRCP exam!

Pamela’s vibrant and varied work history includes beginnings as a house surgeon at Birmingham General Hospital where she trained with ‘… lots of operating, including gall bladders and gastrectomies and so on’ along with developing experience in casualty and orthopaedics.

She then went on to gain the fellowship of The Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1954.

Eventually she settled in Kidderminster as a resident surgical officer, going on to dabble in other highly skilled surgical disciplines including plastic surgery and anaesthetics. She later became a clinical assistant and taking lead within the highly dynamic accident unit in Kidderminster.

Retiring in 1991, she stayed active within the Kidderminster hospital, continuing as a locum for a further two years and helping the League of Friends of Kidderminster Hospital to raise funds for new equipment, eventually becoming the leagues president in 2006.

Celebrating a highly accomplished life, Pamela Ball died of bone marrow cancer in September 2019, just after receiving an MBE for her services to the NHS. She was 92.

Read the original article:

Nasal chondrocytes as a potential alternative for tissue-engineered replacements for osteoarthritic joints

According to a recent study published in Nature, nasal-tissue engineered chondrocytes showed promising preclinical results to treat knee arthroplasty in osteoarthritic conditions. According to the authors, the in vitro exposition to inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-1𝛽, TNF) did not imply articular cartilage phenotype loss. Successful tests were currently conducted in animals (mice) showing integration with the underlying bone. Two patients were also successfully treated with the novel therapy with a resulting reduction in pain and increased joint function. The results are promising for further clinical trials with controlled groups and for the treatment of other joints [1].


“Rheumatoid arthritis of finger joint with one-sided inflammation of the synovial membrane and articular cartilage” by MyArthritis is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0


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]    L. Acevedo Rua, M. Mumme, C. Manferdini, S. Darwiche, A. Khalil, M. Hilpert, D.A. Buchner, G. Lisignoli, P. Occhetta, B. von Rechenberg, M. Haug, D.J. Schaefer, M. Jakob, A. Caplan, I. Martin, A. Barbero, K. Pelttari, Engineered nasal cartilage for the repair of osteoarthritic knee cartilage defects, Sci. Transl. Med. 13 (2021) eaaz4499.

Kartogenin – a promising drug for cartilage regeneration.

Kartogenin (KGN) is a small, non-toxic, heterocyclic molecule, it has been known for effectively enhancing the chondrogenic differentiation of human bone marrow MSC (hBMSC), for exhibiting chondroprotective effects in vitro and for reducing cartilage degeneration [1].
KGN interacts with the actin-binding protein filamin A, disrupting its balance with the transcription factor core-binding factor β (CBFβ), giving it the ability to enter the nucleus and interact with RUNX1 to form the CBFβ-RUNX1 complex that activates the transcription of chondrogenesis-related proteins and enhances cartilage ECM synthesis [1].

Comparison between hBMSC proliferation and morphology on PCL nanofibers (A) and KGN-loaded aligned nanofibers (B): SEM images showing hBMSC morphology on selected electrospun scaffolds tested (at day 21). Results are presented as mean ± SD (n = 3). *p < 0.05. Scale bar: 10 μm. Image reproduced from [3].
KGN has been pointed out as a promising drug for cartilage regeneration in vivo [2].
In a recent study, it has been speculated that KGN released from coaxial aligned electropsun nanofibers in a controlled manner would promote hBMSC chondrogenesis. To access the bioactivity of the released KGN it was used the evaluation of KGN-loaded electrospun scaffolds ability to promote hBMSC growth and chondrogenesis. The experiments showed that KGN-loaded electrospun scaffolds promoted sGAG production and chondrogenic gene expression when compared to the respective non-loaded scaffolds, a promising result for the regeneration of the cartilage superficial zone. [3].

This outcome highlights the potential of KGN-loaded aligned nanofibers for the development of novel biomimetic MSC-based strategies to regenerate articular cartilage.


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.



[1] Johnson K, Zhu S, Tremblay MS, Payette JN, Wang J, Bouchez LC, Meeusen S, Althage A, Cho CY, Wu X, Schultz PG, A stem cell-based approach to cartilage repair, Science. 336 (2012) 717–721. doi:10.1126/science.1215157.
[2] Cartilage Extracellular Matrix Scaffold With Kartogenin-Encapsulated PLGA Microspheres for Cartilage Regeneration, Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol. (2020)
[3] Silva J, Udangawa R, Mancinelli C, Kartogenin-loaded coaxial PGS/PCL aligned nanofibers for cartilage tissue engineering, Mater Sci Eng C Mater Biol Appl. (2020) 107: 110291.

Mechanical Engineers Walk the Walk – Well Cycle the Cycle!

Absolutely great effort from the School’s Med Tech cyclists Drs Peter Culmer and Andrew Jackson in support of Cancer Support Yorkshire. The route was the famous The Way of the Roses… nice play on words… unifying the pre-eminent counties of England, Lancashire and Yorkshire.

A mighty 250 km cycle across the country in one day!

Please donate on Just Giving:

This post was written by Richard M Hall on behalf of Andrew Jackson and Pete Culmer – Mechanical Engineering, University of Leeds.

ETH-Zurich Early Stage Researcher’s Participate in the Swiss Medtech and Additive Manufacturing EXPO 2021!

On September 14 and 15, 2021, the Messe Luzern hosted, simultaneously, the Swiss Medtech Expo and the Addictive Manufacturing (AMX) Exhibits. Andre Plath and Elisa Bissacco, BioTrib ETH ESRs, and their ETH-colleagues participated in the exhibit and visited the 160 exhibitors on-site. The trade fairs showcased new designs, materials, technologies, and medical processes. The event also had talks from key industry and research partners, among them several ETH professors. The talks were held continuously throughout the event in two stages. 

Swiss Manufacturing and AMX were interesting opportunities to be in contact with top-notch technology and with the latest developments in the biomedical industry. There we had an opportunity to network with key stakeholders and attend talks that will enrich our careers and our projects” says Andre.
The fair was really interesting; it gave us the possibility to observe and analyze the top-notch additive-manufacturing swiss technologies and to discuss with several field experts and professionals” according to Elisa.


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.


Cartilage Tissue Engineering and Electrospinning

Cartilage-related diseases are a promising field to explore in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. The cartilage hydrated structure is aneural, avascular, and non-lymphatic, which complicates natural regeneration [1,2]. The increase in life expectancy and obesity is directly correlated to osteoarthritis –the disease caused by the degradation of cartilage. The painful consequences also increase comorbidities and burden patients and healthcare providers with exorbitant costs [3,4].

Currently, surgical and non-surgical therapies are employed to address osteoarthritis. They are not permanent solutions [5–7]. Therefore, several groups are developing hydrogels [8,9], electrospun mats [10], and other biomaterials to mimic the natural properties of cartilage. These implants can increase patients’ quality of life, reducing pain, comorbidities, and other undesirable effects after their clinical trials and regulatory agency approval.


Chondrocyte proliferation on neutralized chitosan fiber mats. Image adapted from under Creative Commons License

Yilmaz and Zeugolis discuss the promises, challenges, and future perspectives of electrospinning applied to cartilage tissue engineering [11]. They emphasize that although electrospinning literature is abundant in the Pubmed database, few studies explore electrospining’s potential applied to cartilage tissue engineering. The authors demonstrate with pre-clinical results that stem cell-seeded electrospun scaffolds combined with other techniques (3D printing and freeze-drying) can recover lubricating properties, mechanical resistance and restore cartilage tissue properties [11]. Although the reviewed studies consider small animals (rats, mice, and rabbits), they are promising to people suffering from the pain and harmful effects of osteoarthritis worldwide [11].


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]        L.M. Billesberger, K.M. Fisher, Y.J. Qadri, R.L. Boortz-Marx, Procedural Treatments for Knee Osteoarthritis: A Review of Current Injectable Therapies, Pain Res. Manag. 2020 (2020) 1–11.

[2]        E.D. Bonnevie, V.J. Baro, L. Wang, D.L. Burris, Fluid load support during localized indentation of cartilage with a spherical probe, J. Biomech. 45 (2012) 1036–1041.

[3]        S. Glyn-Jones, A.J.R. Palmer, R. Agricola, A.J. Price, T.L. Vincent, H. Weinans, A.J. Carr, Osteoarthritis, in: Lancet, Lancet Publishing Group, 2015: pp. 376–387.

[4]        D.J. Hunter, L. March, M. Chew, Osteoarthritis in 2020 and beyond: a Lancet Commission, Lancet. 396 (2020) 1711–1712.

[5]        Y. Lee, J. Choi, N.S. Hwang, Regulation of lubricin for functional cartilage tissue regeneration: a review, Biomater. Res. 22 (2018) 9.

[6]        G. Musumeci, C. Loreto, M.L. Carnazza, F. Coppolino, V. Cardile, R. Leonardi, Lubricin is expressed in chondrocytes derived from osteoarthritic cartilage encapsulated in poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate scaffold, Eur. J. Histochem. 55 (2011) 31.

[7]        W. Kabir, C. Di Bella, I. Jo, D. Gould, P.F.M. Choong, Human Stem Cell Based Tissue Engineering for In Vivo Cartilage Repair: A Systematic Review, Tissue Eng. Part B Rev. 27 (2021).

[8]        Y. Gombert, R. Simič, F. Roncoroni, M. Dübner, T. Geue, N.D. Spencer, Structuring Hydrogel Surfaces for Tribology, Adv. Mater. Interfaces. 6 (2019) 1901320.

[9]        M. Jurak, A.E. Wiącek, A. Ładniak, K. Przykaza, K. Szafran, What affects the biocompatibility of polymers?, Adv. Colloid Interface Sci. 294 (2021) 102451.

[10]      J.K. Wise, A.L. Yarin, C.M. Megaridis, M. Cho, Chondrogenic Differentiation of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells on Oriented Nanofibrous Scaffolds: Engineering the Superficial Zone of Articular Cartilage, Tissue Eng. Part A. 15 (2009) 913–921.

[11]      E.N. Yilmaz, D.I. Zeugolis, Electrospun Polymers in Cartilage Engineering—State of Play, Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol. 8 (2020).

BioTrib Conversations: Clinical expertise in polymer, dental and joint replacement biotribology

In Episode 5 of BioTrib Conversations, Prof Nazanin Emami (BioTrib Lead Scientist, Luleå University of Technology) discusses with Prof Richard Hall (BioTrib Co-ordinator, University of Leeds) her career path to becoming a leading researcher in biotribology and the importance of a clinical understanding within medical device development.


NuSpine Outreach Videos

Early Stage Researchers within the NU-SPINE ETN produced six videos for BeCurious outreach events in 2020/21.

Cervical Total Disc Replacement – Faizal Kamarol

Have you or anyone you know ever suffered from a neck problem? Faizal Kamarol from the University of Leeds School of Mechanical Engineering explains research into Cervical Total Disc Replacement (CTDR), a procedure for patients who suffer wear and tear of the spinal discs in the neck.

Developing Spinal Simulators – Kaushikk Iyer

Kaushikk Iyer from the Unviersity of Leeds School of Mechanical Engineering and Key Engineering Solutions is developing spinal simulators to help test spinal disc implants, to ensure they can be used to treat patients safely.

Tribology of facet joints – Beril Saadet Yenigul

Beril Saadet Yenigul from the NU-SPINE project at the University of Leeds gives an introduction to biotribology, facet joints, and the challenges of designing facet joint replacements!

Spinal fusion surgery – Xiaoyu Du

Xiaoyu Du from the NU-SPINE project at ETH Zurich, interrupts cooking dinner to show us how spinal fusion surgery works with some of her ingredients!

Structural engineering – Thijs Smit

Thijs Smit from the NU-SPINE project at the University of Science and Technology, ETH Zurich, shows us some do-it-yourself engineering, using… LEGO! Why not try building your own super-strong structure at home with lego too?

Understanding Non-Newtonian Fluid with SLIME! – Yijun Zhou

With the help of ‘Ms Shark’, Yijun Zhou from the NU-SPINE project at Uppsala University shows us a fun Non-Newtonian fluid experiment you can do at home by making SLIME!