All the fun of the fair

For the next three days IBEC scientists from the Control of Stem Cell Potency group will be introducing induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells to the people of Barcelona at the 9th “Live Research” Fair at La Pedrera.

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The fair, organized by the Parc Científic Barcelona (PCB) with the support of Obra Social Catalunya Caixa, showcases some of the projects currently being undertaken by groups from the different research centres in the area. Its aim is to bring research closer to the general public and to encourage young adults to consider a scientific career.

Researchers from Ángel Raya’s group will take turns this week to lend their time and expertise to talk to the public about the concept, origin and potential uses of induced pluripotent stem cells. They’ll be helping visitors to complete a ‘puzzle’ about the study of different diseases using the cells, and the stand also features a video of beating cardiomyocytes and a fluorescence microscope through which participants can examine different examples of differentiated cells, including neurons.

The launch of the fair at midday today also included a prize-giving ceremony for the winners of last year’s ‘Recerca a Secundària’, a mentoring scheme which pairs high-school students with a young investigator in a research group at the PCB to complete a project during the summer. Ana Rubio from IES Vall d’Arús in Vallirana was helped by PhD student Andy Olivares from the Biomechanics and mechanobiology group in the in vitro mechanical testing of scaffolds. Her project, ‘Caracterització de les propietats mecàniques d’un material per a substitució òssia’, was one of three chosen to receive a prize, and the experience also helped Andy in his own work. “We took the opportunity to work with a new machine, and we achieved some results that will able to be used in the future to develop of methodologies and protocols for the testing of polymeric scaffolds in fluid and solid environments, as stimulators of the cells attached on the scaffold wall,” he said.

The “Live Research” Fair will run until Thursday and is free to enter. For more details visit http://obrasocial.caixacatalunya.es/osocial/idiomes/1/fitxers/cultura/recerca/index.htm