Glenn Embrechts (European Schoolnet)
Skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are becoming an increasingly important part of basic literacy in today's knowledge economy. European Schoolnet is at the forefront of the debate on how to attract more people to science and technology to address the future skills gap that Europe is facing. STEM is one of European Schoolnet's major thematic domains. We have been involved in more than 30 STEM education initiatives, financed through European Schoolnet's Ministry of Education members, industry partners, or by the European Union's funding programmes. More information on social media: Social media: https://m.facebook.com/labonderwijs and https://www.instagram.com/lab_gedrevenonderwijs/ .
Using skin and mucosa models to replace animal testing
The skin and mucosa are important tissues that differ between species in health and disease. The group of Sue Gibbs works on the development of advanced in vitro models that mimic these two tissues, specialising in immunity models and organ-on-a-chip technologies. They use skin models to study for example melanoma, skin allergies, eczema, burns and healing wounds. Dental models are used for the safety of materials used in dentistry, for example to test the quality of the implant and false tooth when it comes to attaching to the soft tissue. Their ambition is to expand into the field of multi-organ technology to make even more relevant models for the human skin and mucosa. Click on the link in the video to watch more or read the interview with Sue he[https://vu.nl/en/research/more-about/using-skin-and-mucosa-models-to-replace-animal-testing]re.
Using data and computational modelling in biomedical research
Bioinformatics and systems biology hold great promise to translate the wealth of biological data into meaningful knowledge about human health and disease. The group of Bas Teusink helps biologists to deal with high throughput data, for example metabolomics (how cell metabolism works) and proteomics (how protein networks work) from patient material or cell cultures. This can help to better understand disease mechanisms and aid drug targeting or personalised medicine. In the future, combining data from different models (in vitro, in vivo and human data) could become a digital model of humans, or a “ digital twin”. Click on the link in the video to watch more or read the interview with Bas (and Jaap Heringa) he[https://vu.nl/en/research/more-about/using-data-and-computational-modelling-in-biomedical-research]re.
Treating genetic heart disease using engineered heart tissue
Some heart disease are caused by a gene mutation in the cardiac muscle cells. People with this genetic disease are affected it between the ages of 20 and 40, and there is no preventative treatment for this. The group of Jolanda van der Velden works on the development of engineered heart tissue made from human stem cells to unravel disease mechanisms and test drugs to treat the disease. They use different kinds of stem-cell-based cultures. 2D cell cultures are useful to test a large number of candidate drugs, while patient-derived stem cells that are differentiated in heart cells can help to get detailed understanding of the disease and test the most promising treatments. Click on the link in the video to watch more or read the interview with Jolanda here (https://vu.nl/en/research/more-about/treating-genetic-heart-disease-using-engineered-heart-tissue).
Using human organoid technology to treat viral infections in children
Viral infection in (very young) children can be detrimental to their neurological health. The mechanisms of some viruses work very differently in children compared with adults, which is not well understood yet. The research group of Dasja Pajkrt studies viral infections in children from the clinic by using human-derived organoids. They focus on three groups of viruses that can severely affect children: picornaviruses (responsible for illnesses like meningo-encephalitis and sepsis), cytomegalovirus (which can cause severe disabilities in children born with this virus) and HIV. The human-derived organoids or multi-organ systems allow for detailed mechanistic analysis of the disease and possible treatments that can be brought back to the clinic. Click on the link in the video to watch more or read the interview with Dasja here (https://vu.nl/en/research/more-about/using-human-organoid-technology-to-treat-viral-infections-in-children).