QMUL took part at the 6th Summer Science School at St Paul’s Way, a STEM event hosted by Prof Brian Cox in East London. This two day conference offers students the opportunity to interact with real scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs through a programme of hands on workshops and seminars given by the UK’s leading scientists. Prof Brian Cox open the seminar series with an inspirational and 3D visual presentation on the universe and its world and how the different systems interact with space and time.
I spoke about possible bioengineering strategies to treat and repair fetal membrane defects, thereby preventing the breaking of the membranes and premature birth. I explained why it is important to understand the biology, engineering and material science of soft tissues so that the fetal membranes remain strong and healthy, and the baby is born at the right time when she is ready after 40 weeks gestation.
I discussed the concept of mechanotransdution and why mechanical forces can stimulate cells and keep the tissues strong and healthy. The mechanotransduction process was demonstrated by two children (both 7 years of age, from St Joseph’s in the Park) who explained that “stretching” and “compression” are important forces that help the fetal membrane cells to migrate and repair membrane tissues.
The QMUL and GSK team ran several “bioengineering experience” workshops throughout the day with activities led by PhD students in biomedical engineering/design (Wesleigh Dawsmith), nanotechnology (Kseniya Shututminkska, Gaston Primo, Michael Keeling), biomaterials (James Taylor), pharmacology/disease (Dr Rhiannon Lowe [GSK], Eleanor Kimber [MEng student, QMUL]. Victoria Rockell helped to support the activities and spoke to students about the Biomedical Engineering programmes offered by SEMS.
Overall, a highly inspirational event for both students and scientists – enormous thanks to the SSC organisers for inviting us to take part.