UniStem Day enabled 800 students to learn about reNEW’s stem cell research

Approximately 800 high school students attended presentations and took part in discussions and lab visits during the UniStem Day held at reNEW’s nodes on March 10. The objective of this annual event is to allow medical research institutes to highlight their stem cell activities to students and arouse their interest.

The UniStem Day has over the years turned into the largest educational outreach initiative on stem cells and regenerative medicine in Europe, with some non-European countries also taking part in this promotion effort. It was the first time that the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Medicine, reNEW took part in this engagement event.

This was a huge success with a total of almost 800 high school students participating globally,” said reNEW’s CEO, Professor Melissa H. Little. And participating students agreed: ”I liked that there were different people (presenting who each had) different perspectives on stem cells. I learned a lot about how many options we have with stem cells” said one, while another thought the speakers were “really good and made the topic interesting!”

On-going research, its impact on patients, career options, ethics on the agenda
At the University of Copenhagen, more than 500 high school students from 13 different high schools came to listen to four of reNEW’s professors – Kim Bak Jensen, Agnete Kirkeby, Jakub Sedzinski and Klaus Hoeyer – who presented their research and also raised the ethical aspects of stem cell research. PhD student Amalie Holm was also present to explain why she opted to study stem cells.

At the Leiden University Medical Center, the more than 100 students who attended the UniStem Day were not only introduced to the world of stem cells by reNEW’s Professor Christine Mummery and her colleagues. A young patient suffering from type 1 diabetes was also present and flagged the importance of their work. She explained how breakthroughs in stem cell research could change her life.

More than 180 students from 15 schools had an exciting day of hands-on activities in the lab in reNEW Melbourne’s event, leaving with a greater understanding of how stem cells are used in research to solve complex problems like heart disease.

The event took place at the Gene Technology Access Centre in partnership with reNEW Melbourne. After an introductory session from Professor Megan Munsie, theme lead of reNEW’s PREPARE team, and Drs Adam Piers and Holly Voges, students heard from other leading young post-graduate students and researchers from across the Murdoch Children’s Research labs of Professor Enzo Porrello, A/Professor David Elliott, Professor Megan Munsie and Professor Mirana Ramialison.

Students also completed five different hands-on activities to experience how our researchers study heart development and disease using stem cells, uncover disease causing genes in a computer model of the heart, and unpack the ethics of participating in research.

You can watch a short video about the event here:

Reprogrammed neurons may fool you!

Associate Professor Agnete Kirkeby, from reNEW Copenhagen, has published the paper Forced LMX1A expression induces dorsal neural fates and disrupts patterning of human embryonic stem cells into ventral midbrain dopaminergic neurons, in Stem Cell Reports.