World AIDS Day – 1st December 2021

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.

For information on HIV and where to get tested in the UK please refer to the NHS website. Further information and advice on PrEP can be found at the Terrence Higgins Trust.

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.

Involvement of women living with HIV in research lecture – 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.

Road to BioTrib: Power of partnership

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.

 

 

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

REFERENCES

  1. Carl Sagan last interview: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jod7v-m573k&t=134s> 28 oct. 21.
  2. Should researchers get involved in political debates. https://ethz.ch/services/en/news-and-events/internal-news/archive/2021/10/should-researchers-get-involved-in-political-debates.html 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. https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-01031-w
  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: rcseng.ac.uk 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: https://www.rcseng.ac.uk/library-and-publications/library/blog/pamela-ball/

UKRI Reviews of Doctoral Training – The Good and Some Cause for Concern

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.

List of recommendations  
Recommendation 1 To stimulate economic growth, EPSRC should increase the number of students it supports and the professional development that they receive. EPSRC-funded doctoral students go onto careers in innovation and research in manufacturing, information and communication technologies and other scientific and technical careers in industry and academia. To become a global science superpower, the number of people with these skills must grow and EPSRC must lead by increasing the number of students it supports. EPSRC should bid for an uplift of investment in EPS for doctoral education from the spending review and other opportunities.
Recommendation 2 EPSRC should better demonstrate the value of a doctorate, its outcomes, and the destination of doctoral graduates, so that this is understood by all key stakeholders.
Recommendation 3 EPSRC should continue to provide thought leadership in doctoral education to the EPS community by investing in the highest quality doctoral education provision which supports a diverse range of career paths.
Recommendation 4 EPSRC should provide a stable long-term baseline of investment to support a creative and innovative fundamental research community (such as the current algorithmic DTP investment), alongside a more dynamic framework to respond to and support emerging strategic priorities (for example by investing in more frequent CDT competitions and including studentship investments alongside research investments in top priority strategic areas).
Recommendation 5 To effectively support the UK’s increasing STEM capability, the system as a whole needs to grow. Recognising the high value placed on doctoral studentships by industry, EPSRC should engage with industry (both the current and new sectors) to encourage and enable increased industry funding and co-funding of doctoral students. These are effective ways of attracting industry investment into the R&D landscape.
Recommendation 6 EPSRC should showcase the ways small and medium enterprises can and do engage with doctoral students, to widen participation and enable overall growth in the system.
Recommendation 7 EPSRC should work with UKRI on doctoral student issues covered by the Government’s People and Culture Strategy expected to be published in summer 2021, ensuring that issues facing the EPS community are addressed. In particular, the New Deal for postgraduate research is expected to address areas such as the stipend level for doctoral students, the rights and conditions of doctoral studentships, financial sustainability of doctoral education investments, doctoral student recruitment policies, and the health and wellbeing of students.
Recommendation 8 The existing opportunity to employ graduates on UKRI grants does not replace our main route to doctoral education but could provide a valuable alternative career
Recommendation 9 EPSRC should work with the sector to provide greater recognition and visibility of the wider skills developed alongside research skills during a doctorate to ensure the employability of all doctoral graduates.
Recommendation 10 All EPSRC funded students should have access to opportunities outside of their research project (e.g., conferences, placements, public engagement), irrespective of the funding route. EPSRC should be explicit within each scheme that funding should be made available for opportunities outside of the research project.
Recommendation 11 EPSRC should prioritise funding excellent doctoral experiences and access to opportunities over student numbers, while ensuring value for money.
Recommendation 12 EPSRC should assist those who deliver the EPSRC doctoral investments in developing and sharing good practice.
Recommendation 13 It is essential that EPSRC continues to invest through a diverse range of flexible approaches so that we continue to support doctoral students’ varied needs, backgrounds and potential careers as well as the differing requirements of the research and innovation communities.
Recommendation 14 As EPSRC’s current mechanisms are well regarded, new initiatives should only be introduced where there is a compelling case for an alternative approach.
Recommendation 15 EPSRC should work with all stakeholders to ensure the current flexibilities relating to both collaboration and supporting students are well known and used.
Recommendation 16 Doctoral education should be available to people following a variety of career paths. EPSRC should work with stakeholders to continue to improve access, diversity of entry points to doctoral education and tailored support for individuals.
Recommendation 17 EPSRC should understand detailed EDI issues in each of our research areas or sectors and work with our community and representative bodies to address them. EPSRC will continue to work within UKRI on broader EDI initiatives.
Recommendation 18 EPSRC should explore how doctoral training investments can support the levelling up agenda.

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. https://doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aaz4499.

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.

 

 

References:
[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)
doi:10.3389/fbioe.2020.600103
[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.
doi:10.1016/j.msec.2019.110291.

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: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/andrew-jackson112

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

Conspiracy theories as new pandemics arise… the role of the scientist!

Word Cloud from a set of Guardian posts on the origins of HIV

While reading the literature for a forthcoming grant submission on aspects of the HIV pandemic, I came across several articles both within and outside the mainstream media that relate to the development and spread of troubling assertions. These concern, for instance, the origin of HIV and an implied role of politicians in restricting or encouraging certain avenues of development to maintain industries’ pre-eminent economic position and profit-making. Sometimes these assertions develop into conspiracy theories which are explained, at a later date, in relatively simple terms, as is the case in recognising HIV sequences in the SARS-Cov-2 virus. Here, a bit more thought and critical evaluation would have prevented this avenue of thought, but instead it was posted on a pre-print server for all to see and then subsequently withdrawn, but not before the ‘engineered’ virus concept had taken hold in certain areas of the media.  The simple explanation was that a number of viruses have these sequences.

So what, as scientists, are we to do about preventing such misrepresentations in terms of engaging the public and our own self-management? Here are some thoughts:

  • Employ the skills that are central to our work as scientists, indeed as researchers more broadly, of checking, validating and providing critical insight to our work.  This is particularly important in the medical field generally, but in pandemics specifically, where there may be a heightened awareness of our own frailty and fear of new pathogens that arise from time to time.
  • Personally, I am concerned by the rise in the production of pre-prints from a niche activity to one that has now become mainstream. I suspect this is motivated by data-driven metrics (citations but also prestige) as well as the ‘first to print’, which may be important in exploiting base technologies. It can be argued, however, that this rapid dissemination of information is key, not only in developing collaborative research, especially in times of a pandemic, but also in allowing the quick development of frameworks and insights that may otherwise take months to generate if the peer-review process had to be adhered to. To protect both the research community and the wider public, servers hosting pre-prints have strengthened their assessment procedures once an article is posted. Nature Cancer provides a more nuanced overview of this issue as does the Lancet.
  • We should take it upon ourselves to assess the risks involved in how we report scientific findings, asking ourselves whether our published work can be misconstrued or misrepresented so as to allow a false discourse to emerge that can create a situation that does more harm than good.  I am not suggesting, in any form, that we should self-censor but there may be better ways of disseminating information to allow a more constructive debate.  A lack of transparency can also lead to a rise in misinformation, although we should endeavour to realise that the relationship between opaqueness, conspiracies and power, in the eyes of the public and other stakeholder groups, is a complex one and there are no easy fixes.
  • Following on from this we should aim to provide the public with timely information (see my second point) that adds to the debate, treats the individual or group with respect and takes out of the communication moralising (our prejudice) about their behaviour or activity. This is a multidisciplinary arena which works most effectively when it engages people from different disciplines and stakeholder groups to develop strategies relevant to the target cohort(s).
  • Words (and deeds) matter – choose your words carefully and have consideration for the cultural as well as scientific aspects of the cohorts’ living status.  Using certain words and phrases, however well meaning, can alienate, disenfranchise, further stigmatise and evoke distrust in the individuals or groups we are trying to help.  This applies across a range of illnesses and traumas, but particularly so for those in which there is significant stigma, such as mental health and HIV. In doing so, and where you can, try to make it a two-way dialogue and place the person we are trying to help at the centre of the research – co-create and co-produce – and ensure their contribution is valued.

Those outside science, medicine and research also have responsibilities, especially those that are in positions which require them to uphold given behaviour and adhere to certain protocols or codes of conduct. This is particularly important when using frameworks to build trust between stakeholders in the public at large and the wider concept of ‘truth’.

These are just a few thoughts and are not meant to be definitive answers. But I do hope to stimulate some debate.

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 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fhfh.2021.100018 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. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/3873098.

[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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbiomech.2011.12.019.

[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. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60802-3.

[4]        D.J. Hunter, L. March, M. Chew, Osteoarthritis in 2020 and beyond: a Lancet Commission, Lancet. 396 (2020) 1711–1712. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32230-3.

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