Seasons greetings from BioTrib. We wish you a very pleasant winter break and a happy new year!
This concludes posting for 2021, we are looking forward to more novel and pioneering tribology and biomedical engineering research in the new year!
Researcher App is an academic newsfeed with 15,000 journals across 10 different research areas (1). With the app, people can subscribe to specific keywords or journals and follow the latest updates via push notifications or email. Available at the store of your preference, web browser or as a google chrome extension, the app allows to get recent paper information such as the abstract, keywords and DOI.
In the week between January 20th and 31st, researcher will host four webinars about bioconjugation. With this technique, a molecule is attached to another molecule to elicit a biological response (2). None, one, or both molecules may biomolecules, e.g., protein, polysaccharides, and nucleic acids (2). As applications to the technique, we can cite polymer brushes conjugated to hydrogels to increase cell viability and lubricity (3), bacterial nanocellulose fibers modified with collagen I and fibronectin to increase cell adhesion (4), and others. At the seminar, key-speakers from UCL, Abzena, ETH Zürich and the University of Cambridge will talk about specific applications of bioconjugation. The seminar is free of charge and registration can be made in the following link.
(1) Researcher app. Available at: <https://www.researcher-app.com> 29. Nov. 2021.
(2) HERMANSON, Greg. T. Bioconjugate Techniques – Chapter 1. Available at: <https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-382239-0.00001-7> Access 29 Nov. 2021
(3) DIVANDARI, M. et al. Surface-grafted assemblies of cyclic polymers: shifting between high friction and extreme lubricity. Available at: <https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eurpolymj.2018.11.039>. Access 29 Nov. 2021.
(4) KUZMENKO, V. et al. Universal method for protein bioconjugation with nanocellulose scaffolds for increased cell adhesion. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.msec.2013.07.031> Access 29 Nov. 2021.
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.
Should you like to make more contacts within your University? How can we maintain a social relationship during the Covid pandemic? What would happen if people from different departments and hierarchies would talk more often to each other?
These are some of the questions I asked myself before taking part in this initiative a few weeks ago. The Covid pandemic radically changed the opportunities for interaction with people. But whether a smile in passing, a quick “hello” or a lingering conversation, shared moments bring vibrancy to life. Human interaction is a necessity for everyone and the desire for connection is a core need essential to feeling satisfied with your life.
Since I started this new experience at ETH Zürich, I was eager to meet as many people as possible, from all over ETH and other institutions, to keep me socially fit and also to compare with people and deal with different perspectives and cultures and upgrade my training and skills, not only in scientific fields. So, when I saw this opportunity called ETH LunchLottery , which I had never heard about before, I decided immediately to sign up. Unfortunately, like me, just a few people know about this occasion to meet people and that’s why I’m interested in talking about and sharing it.
The idea here is basically to mix staff and doctoral students as much as possible, once a month, by assigning randomly every participating employee one or several lunch or coffee break partners to meet both online and in person. Then a smart matching algorithm optimizes for the perfect match. All participating employees automatically receive a customized e-mail about the upcoming LunchLottery initiative  and partners’ e-mail addresses. You’re ready! Employees connect with new colleagues from other departments and hierarchy levels . You can decide with your lunch/coffee break partners when and where to meet them. This will help to make new connections and exchange ideas with all sorts of people. It will enrich everyday working life immensely by getting to know new people and hearing about the work they do across all units and functional levels, or just by having an exciting chat on various topics. It could also be a great idea for setting up small projects and collaborations with other departments.
And in this regard, after this experience, I asked myself: “Could we take a cue from this kind of event also to develop networks and to share our knowledge or to simply get to know better the other BioTrib’s members, also considering the different geographies and time zones? Could be an idea to get in touch and know even other ETNs’ members in the most relevant scientific fields?”. A short interruption to our daily routine could be a good idea to get to know other colleagues better and it would also help to open many doors and possibilities for all of us, as well as to gain additional knowledge and skills to help us to manage and do better our jobs. And even more, in light of the pandemic we are still immersed in, I believe it is a perfect opportunity to allow people to return to real life.
Networking and relationship building will lead to innovation!
This article was written by Alessio Amicone as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.
Alessio is investigating the Elucidation of Friction-Induced Failure Mechanisms in Fibrous Collagenous Tissues at ETH Zürich, Switzerland.
Fantastic paper (Transient mixed lubrication model of the human knee implant) from Rob Hewson’s Group at Imperial outlining a computational approach to implant design in terms of the biotribology of knee replacements. Crucially, the investigation uses real-world implant geometries and a statistical description of the surface roughness. Interestingly the model predicts that, under the motion and loading cycles from the standard ISO 14243-3, the implant can demonstrate elastohydrodynamic, mixed and boundary lubrication.
The paper was published in a special issue of the Journal ‘Biosurface and Biotribology’ in celebration of the life of Prof Duncan Dowson who, more than anyone, made an outstanding contribution to Biotribology especially from a Leeds perspective.
Image from Butt, H, Nissim, L, Gao, L et al. (3 more authors) (2021) Transient mixed lubrication model of the human knee implant. Biosurface and Biotribology. ISSN 2405-4518
December 1st is the annual World AIDS Day, an important event to reflect on the worlds response to AIDS and to recognise efforts to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and improve access to treatment along with HIV prevention.
Globally, young women are still disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic and struggle to access appropriate care and resources. This also translates to underrepresentation of this marginalised group in research and will be the subject of an upcoming lecture titled ‘Involvement of women living with HIV in research‘ on 8th December 2021.
Women living with HIV are under-represented in research, yet studies such as the Invisible No Longer project led by Sophia Forum and Terrence Higgins Trust indicate women do want to participate. Meaningful involvement of women living with HIV in research leads to better outcomes, both in upholding the right to participation and in the quality of the research itself. In this presentation, barriers to research participation and how to overcome them will be explored, and strategies to achieve visibility, inclusion and representation of women living with HIV in research will be discussed.
“Visibility and inclusion” involvement of women living with HIV in research
About this event:
Dr Jacqui Stevenson, Freelance Consultant/Researcher; promoting gender equality in the HIV response and in global health
Chair: Prof Richard M Hall, University of Leeds.
12:30 – 13:30, 8th December 2021 – online. Sign up on Eventbrite.
BioTrib says please ensure you do the right thing and follow the COVID guidelines,
whilst we are unsure of the new SARS-Cov-2 strain, Omicron.
We all are the travellers of this wonderful world travelling through time and space till the end of our life. We have ups and down in life just like a sine curve. Every day we are growing up through learning new knowledge and skills. Although we have best set of skills, sometimes we get lost, we stuck, and we lose momentum of our life to pick up the best from numerous aspects. In such a situation a compassionate partner can play the life changing role either by pushing or pulling you to overcome the moment of inertia. My road to BioTrib program is standing on such a magnetic story.
I met my partner Afrina Khan Piya during my undergrad study. After completing my bachelor degree in mechanical engineering, I was desperately seeking for a position to pursue my MSc in a foreign country. Then one day Piya forwarded me one link regarding an MSc position on implant material in a Japanese lab. I applied and through a competitive selection process, I was finally awarded the position with Japanese Govt. scholarship. Later, Piya also joined the same lab with the same scholarship. We were thrilled while doing research on different aspect of implant materials. My research focused on the improvement of osteoconductivity of porous Ti in vitro while Piya analyzed Osteoblast cell adhesion behavior using AFM based measurement techniques. We relished the research that provided us the opportunity to contribute in the field of medical engineering. We participated several conferences in Japan and an international conference in Thailand where we had opportunity to talk with different researchers working on implant materials. I deeply comprehended the importance of this emerging field. Annually, 80,000 and 200,000 total hip replacement procedures are being performed in UK and USA respectively (Kurtz et. al., 2007). As a result, the demand for prosthetic implants is continuously increasing specially in the aging society because of the loss of bone strength caused by several biological and mechanical effects, such as osteolysis or wear debris (Zhang et al., 2009). Therefore, the development of artificial bones is in high demand that can directly enhance the quality of people lives. I strongly believe that a small contribution to this sector can improve the millions of lives. This thoughtfulness strongly motivated me to pursue my PhD research in the field of Bioengineering.
After the accomplishment of our MSc degree, Piya applied for GreenTRIBOS program under MSCA fellowship and finally she was accepted for the position at University of Leeds (UoL) in the year 2020. While doing a course of Professor Richard, she came to know about BioTrib program. She encouraged me to apply for the positions. Although I was a bit low thinking about the high competition for the positions, Piya was super optimistic. She motivated to me in such a way as such I am best suited for the position. She assisted me to build a strong SOP and other tasks as well. Again the golden moment came to my life in one morning when I found the email of my acceptance for the prestigious position. I believe it’s about the power of partnership that brought me here. I would like to recall the words, “Behind every successful man, there is a women” and she is none but my partner for me: heartiest gratitude to her!
We both feel extremely blessed to be a part of European Training Network. We would like to try our level best to have outstanding contributions throughout our project. Finally, I would like to quote,
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
– Robert Frost
This article was written by MM Raihan as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.
Raihan is researching In-situ Measurement of Nano-scale Wear Utilising Advanced Sensors at University of Leeds, UK.
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:
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 awayIdowu 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.
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.
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.
Professor Stephen Ferguson, a BioTrib Lead Scientist based at ETH Zurich, discusses with Professor Richard Hall recent and ongoing advances in developing realistic movement and loading patterns for cutting-edge preclinical orthopaedic implant testing.
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: https://www.rcseng.ac.uk/library-and-publications/library/blog/pamela-ball/
All groups affected by HIV should have access to appropriate care and the opportunity to, for instance, enter clinical trials and access innovative treatments. A recent editorial noted the mismatch between those PLWH that were recruited to clinical trials (overrepresentation of young white males) and those seen in the general population (a more heterogeneric demography). Women have been severely underrepresented in many areas of HIV treatment and care including inclusion in research. This appears to be an ongoing issue across the HIV landscape with alternative approaches required to allow both access and opportunity in advancing care and its underpinning research. This is essential as in the UK a third of people living with HIV are women and globally the figure stands at fifty percent and it is incumbent on everyone that the right interventions are utilised in this as well as any other community. This is particularly important where intersectional issues make marginalisation and stigma even more challenging. The near-invisibility of WLWH is not a recent phenomenon but one that has existed from the early 80s when HIV came to the fore and the public’s attention. This is one legacy that the community needs to overcome and as Jacqui Stevenson says:
No more excuses: Making HIV research work for women. (Sophia Forum)
Other marginalised groups such as those from BAME backgrounds, whilst being disproportionately affected, were also largely excluded from trials and medical care more generally.
As ART has produced improved outcomes in terms of life expectancy, the demographics of people living with HIV has changed radically. A significant number of PLWH including women have a life expectancy similar to that found in the general population. However, there are disparities between groups (see, for instance, Solomon et al 2020) and a general reduction in quality of life for PLWH due to the onset of a range of geriatric syndromes a decade or more earlier with ongoing discrimination. This has been emphasised recently by ongoing research and advocacy by Jacqui Stevenson who has studied WLWH growing older. The outcomes of the research provide eight asks to improve the lives of WLWH.
Advice for women and HIV including using PrEP can be found at:
The UKRI, the overarching government body that manages publicly funded research and innovation in the UK, has just published two reports on doctoral training one in STEM (the EPSRC report) and one by the equivalent in social sciences (the ESRC report). Both reports recognise the value of doctoral training with an emphasis on employers rather than the wider community. The reports highlight the need for future action in this area:
Alongside council-specific actions, the two reviews are also an important contribution to the evidence base for a new deal for postgraduate research, which will address:
- funding and stipend levels
- routes in, through and out of doctoral training
- rights and conditions
- diversification of models and access.
UKRI – https://www.ukri.org/news/epsrc-and-esrc-doctoral-reviews-published/ accessed 10-10-2021
The EPSRC has released its review of doctoral training in the STEM arena within the UK. There is a wealth of information on the background to the report including outcomes from workshops with stakeholders and a review of the current literature. There is also the report itself and the recommendations therein.