2016 Travel Reports

2016 FIRM Symposium, Girona, Spain – A. Stefan

The 3rd FIRM Symposium took place in Girona (Spain) from 26th to 29th of September 2016. The main topic of the symposium was “The Life Cycle of Cell Therapies” and was design especially for postgraduate students and Post-Docs, in order to bring the early career researchers together to discuss their scientific work and research interests, all in a beautiful venue represented by Hotel Cap Roig (Pratja d’Aro, Girona).

The main sessions covered areas such as: cell biology, biomaterials and their use in tissue engineering, preclinical studies and the move from in vitro to in vivo, strategies in commercializing biomaterials, novel product development process and the latest applications of 3D printing techniques in regenerative medicine. The event also included three workshops, aimed to give some perspectives on the implementation of the 3Rs in animal experiments, on how to write quality papers and ways to improve our CV. Besides giving valuable insights into their current work, the invited speakers also answered questions on how young researcher can succeed in their future academic and/or research career.

The participants, mainly PhD students from UK and several European countries, had the chance to present their work through oral or poster presentations. As I participated with a poster describing my results on differences between syndecan-3 knockout murine MSCs and wild type MSCs, during the poster sessions I got the chance to present my research topic and the results I have obtained. Also, I found other posters and oral presentation very interesting and discussing them with my fellow PhD students, made me broaden my knowledge in other topics part of research in regenerative medicine.

Overall, the 2016 FIRM Symposium was an excellent event, well organized, specially tailored for young researchers and I sincerely recommend it to those how are new to regenerative medicine and want to learn about the vast possibilities that this field of research has to offer. Also, I am very grateful for being awarded with the TCES travel bursary, which founded my travel expenses to 2016 FIRM Symposium.


ECI Conference, San Diego – Asma Ahmad

This year the ECI Scale up and manufacturing of cell based therapies conference was held in January in San Diego, California. The event was attended by delegates from 16 different countries and provided the opportunity for academics, industrialists, regulators and students alike to network and discuss the most pressing issues in cell therapy today including the challenges that come with large scale manufacturing of these novel therapies as well as the regulatory concerns that surround them. A pre-conference workshop, held the day before the conference, discussed issues such as product characterisation, standardisation of analytics and manufacturing needs for different cell product classes. The key note speaker, Anne Plant, from NIST, talked about the complexity of obtaining accurate, repeatable measurements of the measurand and the importance of having reliable reference materials and consistent methods of measurement to reduce variability; a theme which was resonated in other presentations throughout the conference. The main event consisted of 8 sessions over a period of 4 days, allowing delegates to gain a wider understanding of issues concerning topics such as novel platforms for manufacturing, the role of regulatory agencies in this therapy area, product characterisation/potency and bioprocess modelling. The manufacturing of CAR T cells, cancer immunotherapies, gene editing, vector production and synthetic biology were also covered in the sessions with a focus on scale up comparability and in line process monitoring. The key plenary speakers at the conference were Stewart Abbot from Fate therapeutics, Kristi Anseth from University of Colarado, Valentin Jossen from Zurich University of Applied Science and Greg Rusotti from Celgene Cellular Therapeutics, each delivering powerful presentations on innovative solutions that were currently being used to tackle manufacturing limitations including the use of new materials for cell expansion and the use of advanced computational fluid dynamics to help support the development of scale up. On the other hand, the 3 minute flash presentations gave students the opportunity to present their own research in a timely and concise manner. The deserved winners of the flash presentations were Ivano Colao from UCL and Bernardo Abecasis from iBET; and the winners of the poster presentations were Elizabeth Cheeseman from Loughborough University and Karen Marcwick from McGill University. Finally, an engaging and riveting audience-panel discussion session with Bernadette Keane from Keane Consultancy, Mohammad Heideran from the FDA and Mathias Renner from Paul Ehrlich Institute on regulatory affairs, allowed people to address key questions like how better to define cell based product CQA and CPP, how to deal with manufacturing changes including automation and how to establish control over source materials and ancillaries. Aside from the presentations, the conference also had ample opportunity for delegates to network, whether that was during the poster sessions, social hours with dessert, the organised lunches, the dinner banquet or at the very successful grazing dinner at the Brewery. Additionally, a specific breakfast networking session was also set up with the aim of facilitating interaction between students and industrialists with very positive feedback provided by the students that attended it saying it helped provide an insight into career opportunities. Overall the conference was really interesting and stimulating, with a lot of focus on encouraging conversation between scientists and engineers alike. In particular, significant emphasis was placed on the need to obtain detailed understanding of the engineering environment inside the chosen reactors using fluid dynamic techniques, an area which perhaps may have been overlooked in the past but that must be addressed in order to tackle the challenges associated with successful scale up. I would like to thank TCES for selecting me as a recipient for the travel bursary and in helping me attend this conference.


TERMIS-EU Chapter meeting 2016, Uppsala, Sweden – Alinda Fernandes

The conference was held at the Uppsala Konsert and Kongress Centre in Uppsala with an overarching theme of ‘towards future regenerative therapies’. There were over 800 attendees and it was a pleasure to learn about novel approaches in the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. I had the opportunity to not only share my work at the conference but also run the first EU-TERMIS careers workshop for women in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine. As such, I would like to give a vote of special thanks to TCES who supported me with a bursary that went towards the registration fees for the conference.

I am highly grateful to TERMIS and the conference Co-chairs, Prof. Jons Hilborn and May Griffith for providing me and my colleague Silvia Mihaila (Radboud University, The Netherlands) the opportunity to run a careers workshop for Women in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine. This pre-conference event had over 100 delegates registered to attend with four successful women panellists speaking: Prof May Griffiths (Linkoping University, Director Integrative Regenerative Medicine (IGEN) Centre, Sweden and TERMIS Co-chair); Dr Alexandra Marques (3Bs Research Group, Portugal); Prof Dr Gerjo Van Osch (Head of Connective Tissue Cells and Repair Group, Erasmus MC, The Netherlands) and Prof. Eva Sykova (Director of The Institute of Experimental Medicine, Czech Republic). The workshop was a success, with excellent contributions from our panellist members and we were pleased to receive very good feedback from our attendees.

The oral sessions covered at this four-day meeting covered a broad range of topics which I found very interesting and engaging. The plenary speaker talks were very interesting and I particularly enjoyed talks by Prof Molly Stevens who focused on the use of ‘nanoneedles’ for gene and drug therapy and Prof Ali Khademhosseini who presented ‘bioinspired’ approaches using coated microfibres for blood clotting. In addition, Prof Jianwu Dai’s work focussed on preclinical therapeutic studies in canine spinal cord injury models using scaffolds and small molecules such as growth factors, an area that is of high interest to me. The symposiums focussed on nanotechnologies, cell and gene therapies, biomaterials including bio inspired scaffolds, with a broad focus covering tissues and organogenesis including brain/spinal cord, bone and cartilage as well as angiogenesis. It was highly motivating to see that, in general, research has progressed rapidly especially towards realising clinical translation. I particularly enjoyed the sessions on the nervous system as this is my area of interest. It was exciting to learn about novel developments in this field though I believe that regenerative medicine within this area hasn’t progressed as much as other tissues presented at the conference such as bone/cartilage. As such, I feel even more motivated to pursue my research in cell therapies and regenerative medicine for neurodegenerative disorders.

It was a pleasure to meet delegates from previous TERMIS and TCES conferences as well those I met for the first time. The meeting brought together researchers from not only Europe but Australia and the Americas as well! I also had the opportunity to meet some new people at the gala dinner which was great! I enjoyed having dinner in Uppsala Castle and the ambience was fantastic! All in all, the conference was a great platform to share our science and forge new contacts and collaborations through networking and I believe attendance to this conference has significantly contributed towards my development as an early career TERM researcher.


FIRM Symposium 2016, Girona, Spain – Mariana Petronela Hanga

FIRM2016 Symposium is a conference held at a resort near Girona, Spain, organised by Early Career Researchers (ECRs) for Early Career Researchers. FIRM represents an opportunity for ECRs to present their work, network and gain research dissemination experience, as well as gain insight into the clinical approach and academic research translation to industry, which I find particularly interesting.

Despite being organised by ECRs and relatively new, only in its third year, FIRM2016 Symposium was nothing short of outstanding research. It was very refreshing to witness the high quality oral and poster presentations covering a wide range of topics, from fundamental biology to biomaterials, preclinical foundation and clinical applications to translation and commercialisation of Regenerative Medicine products.  Moreover, because it is dedicated to ECRs, it was very helpful to have the chance to participate to career-oriented workshops, such as ‘Publish or Perish: Successfully communicate your research’ or ‘CV Clinics’ or even to get the chance to be mentored by important names in industry, such as Bo Kara (GSK, UK) or in academia, Alvaro Mata (Queen Mary University of London, UK) or Erik Shapiro (Michigan State University, US).

One personal highlight was the ‘Biomaterials’ sessions with a particular interest in the keynote’s presentation, Liam Grover (University of Birmingham, UK) who spoke about the applications of some very interesting and unexpected materials, such as gellan (typically used in food industry) combined with molecules, such as hexametaphosphate (the main component of Calgon water softener) in treating heterotopic ossification. Another personal highlight was a talk given by Maria Pereira from Gecko Biomedical (France) that introduced some of their technology focusing on a fully synthetic light-activated tissue adhesive and its delivery device.

I presented my work in the ‘Fundamental Biology’ session and my presentation discussed the suitability of the two phase perfluorocarbon/growth medium system to be used as an alternative large scale expansion system for human mesenchymal stem cells, focusing on the possible advantages and disadvantages of the system. My presentation raised quite a lot of interest amongst the audience, despite being the last presentation of the day, as numerous questions were asked at the end. Additionally, I was given the chance to chair one of the sessions which I thought it was a fantastic opportunity to build on my skills.

At the end of each day, social events including games at the beach were organised which provided great scope for networking and building new collaborations. In summary, FIRM2016 Symposium was a fantastic and successful conference that not only allowed me to get up-to-date with scientific advancements in the Regenerative Medicine field, but also build new collaborations and links with industrial partners, as well as helped me build on my CV and expand on my research dissemination skills. I am very grateful for the support provided by TCES which made my attendance to this meeting possible. Thank you TCES!


Bioprinting and 3D Printing in the Life Sciences 2016, Singapore – Nazia Mehrban

July 2016 saw the opening of the ‘Bioprinting and 3D Printing in the Life Sciences’ conference held in Singapore. The conference invited experts in 3D printing from across the globe to share the latest research in the field and held panel discussions highlighting progress made by regulatory bodies on the use of 3D printed materials and cells in the human body. I was honoured to attend the conference as an invited speaker.

The conference was held at Singapore General Hospital where delegates were welcomed by Prof. Chua Chee Kai, the Executive Director of the Singapore Centre for 3D Printing (SC3DP) who gave an overview of what SC3DP does and how advances made in 3D printing have influenced the medical field. This set the theme for the 2-day event in which many exciting presentations were delivered. Although the topics of the presentations varied from bioinks and organ printing to plant tissue printing and even metal inks, common subjects, in both talks delivered and questions asked, were noticeable. One of these subjects was the difficulty in printing biological solutions that are able to retain the droplet shape and also provide a cell-friendly environment. William Whitford (GE Healthcare) and Dr. Tan Lay Poh (Nanyang Technological University) both based their talks on this very important problem. All delegates agreed that there was no easy solution. Changing the viscosity, and therefore overall mechanical stiffness, of the ink to improve printability also affects the viability, proliferation and differentiation of the cells within the droplet. Currently no technology exists which can address both these issues simultaneously with repeatable results. The conference provided an open platform to conduct such important discussions.

The conference was also ideal in showcasing the breadth of novel research being conducted around the world on 3D printing. One of the most memorable talks was given by keynote speaker, Prof. Marcy Zenobi-Wong (ETH Zurich), who’s interests lay in cartilage repair. Prof. Zenobi-Wong explained how her group uses 3D bioprinting technology to create spatially complex environments that direct cell-cell and cell-tissue adhesion and release cytoskeletal molecules to maintain healthy cell populations. Using these principles Prof. Zenobi-Wong has split her research into 4 key areas; craniofacial graft manufacturing, extracellular matrix printing, bioink development and growth factor patterning on surfaces. The breadth of the research presented showed how versatile 3D printing technology can be.

Another talk which I found particularly interesting was given by Dr. Payal Mukherjee, a Senior Clinical Lecturer at the University of Sydney. Her interest lie in cochlear implants, otology and skull base surgery, areas in which our research group at UCL are also heavily involved with. Dr. Mukherjee’s talk highlighted how difficult it is to access the inner ear and accurately pin-point where surgical intervention is required and how she has used 3D printing to create models on which she can run through the procedure at her leisure without inducing discomfort in patients. Furthermore, she uses these models to explain to patients what the correcting surgical procedure is and how it will be carried out. This use of 3D technology directly benefits patients and acts as a tool for both Dr. Mukherjee and the patient involved. Dr. Mukherjee’s delivery of the talk content was also innovative. She presented short videos of herself manipulating the 3D printed models to gain access to the inner ear and also overlaid 3D rendering software which allowed her to digitally manipulate the physical model and zoom into the area of interest.

Several talks, spanning both days, captured my interest and attending this conference has allowed me to step outside my area of research and look at other applications of 3D printing which have helped develop intricate medical devices, reduce patient discomfort and even shape legislation. Overall the conference has been very useful and given me several ideas for future research.


2016 3rd FIRM Symposium: Girona, Spain – Matthew Dunn

FIRM Symposium first caught my eye when I attended the 16th TCES Annual Meeting and it was advertised in a late session. After applying I was given the opportunity to present my work at the FIRM Symposium later in the year, so I eagerly worked in the lab in order to give a worthwhile presentation, until September came around and I was able to travel to Spain for the conference, thanks to the generosity of the TCES Travel Bursary.

FIRM was held over four days, with all sessions and accommodation held in the Cap Roig Hotel, Platja d’Aro.  Cataluña is a beautiful part of Spain, as evidenced by the popularity of Barcelona for tourists, and Girona is no different. The hotel is right on the coast, resulting in breath-taking views of the sun rising and setting over the ocean each day, clearly seen from the comfort of a hotel room balcony. The conference itself was held in an impressive room within the hotel, where we heard a variety of talks each day, given by both PhD Early Careers Researchers and established keynotes, resulting in a great mixture of projects, presentation styles and data from all speakers.

The invited keynote speakers represented a wealth of experience from across academia (Prof. Eric Shapiro, head of the Molecular and Cellular Imaging Lab in Michigan; Dr Alvaro Mata, Queen Mary University London, working on novel biomaterials and self-assembling systems for in vitro biomimics and Prof. Liam Grover, currently working with the military concerning the application of materials and chemicals for ossification), industry (Bo Kara, head of the Advanced Therapy Delivery Development team at GSK, and Dr Maria Pereira of Gecko Biomedical, who developed tissue adhesives), medicine (Dr Bob Hariri, a surgeon and biomedical scientist as well as founder of Celgene Cellular Therapeutics) and even those that have dipped a toe in both academia and industry, namely Prof. Jillian Cornish of the Department Of Medicine, University of Auckland. This wide range of speakers meant that every day felt different and fresh, with the following talks always following the theme that the keynote speaker established. Alongside these talks, there were several workshops, concerning writing and publishing scientific papers, improving upon a CV, and how to best work alongside the NC3Rs when undergoing animal work. All in all, a very useful and informative set of talks from each day.

What’s more, there was ample opportunity to speak personally to the keynote speakers at lunch, dinner, and in the social events after the conference. Unlike other conferences, FIRM promoted an atmosphere that allowed for scientists to be both professional and social in a relaxed atmosphere, ensuring that people from different backgrounds mixed and that networking was simple. This friendly atmosphere, combined with the beautiful Spanish weather and the delicious traditional food served three times a day, resulted in a conference that was not only extremely useful to a scientific career – thanks to the workshops and the opportunity to speak to all attending scientists – it was great for my mental health, as anyone who has a late afternoon on the beach will attest!

My own presentation went down well and I am very grateful for the opportunity that TCES gave me to go to this conference and expand my network, as well as meet a number of dedicated scientists who also turned out to be great people. I was not the only one to have my travel funded by the TCES at this event, so I am all the more grateful for the TCES Travel Bursary and the opportunity to promote the TCES brand. I hope to be able to attend both TCES and FIRM in the coming year!


2016 3rd FIRM Symposium: Platja d’aro, Spain – Lia Andrea Blokpoel Ferreras

It was an honour to have the opportunity to present my work on enhanced delivery of magnetic nanoparticles using the GET system at the latest FIRM Symposium 2016. The conference took place in Hotel Cap Roig in Gerona, Spain, a wonderful venue with breath-taking views over the Mediterranean Sea.

FIRM Symposium is organised by young researchers for young researchers. PhD students and post-doctoral researchers are given the opportunity to present their work and share their findings with fellow colleagues. Every session was introduced by a world renowned key note speaker. There were a broad range of regenerative medicine topics being discussed, including bone regeneration, nerve regeneration, 3D-printing, cell tracking and imaging, and gene delivery. It was very inspirational to see the quality of the science that is currently being done in the UK and Europe in regenerative medicine and the increased effort among the scientific community in carrying this exciting field forward.

A few workshops and discussion panels were also intercalated throughout the conference that I found really helpful, especially those based on future career development.

For me, one of the most remarkable things of the conference was the opportunity it gave me to network amongst fellow peers and potential future collaborators.  The setting of the conference allows plenty of socialising and networking in a very relaxed environment which allows us, early researchers to talk about our work to fellow colleagues and share ideas. The fact that we are all at the early stages of our careers makes it easier to approach other people and discuss ideas. This relaxed environment also makes it easy to approach the keynote speakers and present to them with your work or enquire about theirs.

In summary, FIRM 2016 has provided me with a great opportunity to present my work, gain a better understanding of what is happening within the regenerative medicine field in both the UK and Europe and also to network with other researchers, with whom I will hopefully be able to start future collaborations with. Finally, I would like to thank TCES travel bursary for making it possible for me to attend this conference.


Material Science and Engineering Congress 2016, Darmstadt, Germany – Greenhalgh

From the 26th – 29th of September 2016 I attended the Material Science and Engineering Congress (MSE 2016) in Darmstadt, Germany. Attendance of the conference was made possible with the support of the Tissue and Cell Engineering Society (TCES), which I am grateful for. MSE 2016 was the first academic conference that I have attended and I also had the opportunity to present my work at.

The topics at the conference ranged from functional materials to biomaterials. Despite some of topics deviating from my interests, on my first day I went to two interesting talks on thermochemical energy storage. The lectures outlined the necessity to microencapsulate hydrated salts which reduced the number of phase transitions and therefore increased the number of energy storage cycles.

I went to an another interesting talk on self-assembling protein nanofibers. The group had also applied stimulus (moisture) to proteins mounted on graphene. In the presence of moisture, the conformation of the protein changed causing the morphology of the graphene to change, when the moisture was again remove the graphene sheet reverted back to its initial shape.

I also went to a talk from a group in Germany who demonstrated enzyme autodeposition. The enzyme was first covalently linked to a substrate in specific patterns. The addition of a protein structure for example melatonin was deposited above the enzyme. Autodeposition occurred leaving a patterned surface. The authors had high control of the patterns they were able to make on the substrate.

On the final day I presented my work on “Porous Sol-gel Silica/Gelatin Hybrid Fibres via Cryogenic Solution Blow Spinning”. I first introduced the topic and highlighted that the hybrids could be used to control ion release to stimulate cells. I went on to explain the processing technique and the formulations that were used in our system and finished by highlighting our future work, involving incorporation of calcium into the formulations. It was a great experience and I hope to attend more conferences in the future to present scientific findings.


TCES travel bursary statement for FIRM symposium 2016 – Mancebo

The Future Investigators of Regenerative Medicine (FIRM) symposium took place in Girona (Spain) in September 2016. I am extremely grateful for the travel funding received from TCES, which made my attendance possible. The conference invited many high-profile keynote speakers, covering different topics in regenerative medicine, such as fundamental biology, biomaterials for clinical applications orb translation and commercialisation strategies. This year’s edition also included different workshops to help early career researchers in their professional development. One of my personal highlights of the conference was Robert Hariri’s talk on precision medicine and its future use in the clinical context. He described the advances in genome sequencing and the potential therapeutic benefits of using that information for patient-tailored treatments. I had the chance to present part of the work done as part of my PhD project, ‘Alkylsilane surfaces to control self-renewal and differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells’. In my poster, I described how chemical modifications of substrates with self-assembled monolayers are able to influence bone marrow MSC fate.

Attending the FIRM symposium this year gave me the opportunity to get a better understanding of the huge potential of tissue engineering, making me want to pursue a career in this area even more. It was a great meeting with really high-quality science being presented. The fact that it was a small and informal conference helped me meeting most of the delegates, which made networking really easy. In summary, it was a really enjoyable meeting that I cannot recommend it highly enough to othernearly career researchers.


2016 3rd FIRM Symposium: Girona, Spain – Marina Pavlou

I am very grateful to have been funded by TCES to attend and present my work at the annual FIRM Symposium in Girona, Spain 2016. My project is aimed at reproducing the in vivo tumour biology and microenvironment of osteosarcoma, in a 3D in vitro model using the RAFTTM 3D Cell Culture System by Lonza. The 4-day symposium took place at a wonderful sunny location in the north coast of Spain, called Platjia d’Aro.

The symposium was broadly titled “The life cycle of regenerative medicine” and was divided into 6 consecutive sessions, namely: 1. Fundamental Biology, 2. Biomaterials, 3. Preclinical Foundation, 4. Enabling Technologies, 5. Clinical Application and 6. Translation and Commercialisation. Each session was introduced by a keynote speaker whose work and expertise has shaped the current know-how in their respective fields. The level of scientific excellence presented both by the keynote speakers and the proceeding presentations in each session, was astonishing. All delegates were early-researchers currently in their PhD or post-doc, whose degree of professionalism and quality of work was very inspiring. This helped create a very friendly and engaging atmosphere for everyone to participate in intriguing discussions, which was my favourite attribute of this symposium.  I personally was awarded a “Best Questions asked” prize for actively contributing to presentations and the two discussion panels, during which we had the chance to ask crucial questions to our keynote speakers about the “myths and truths” of pursuing a successful career in academia or industry or even both.

What made this symposium an informatively well-rounded experience, were the daily workshops that complemented each session.  A very useful scientific writing workshop termed “Publish or Perish” gave tangible tips in how to efficiently communicate your work while taking into account the recipient requirements for publication; skills that every scientist regardless of stage needs to have. My personal favourite workshop was titled “Additive Manufacturing” where a 3D printer was specifically brought to the conference site for a demonstration, with three experts in bioprinting describing the array of available options in 3D printing and the advantages/limitations of each technology, followed by an interactive discussion where the demonstrators offered their technical support to people’s questions.

Getting to know young scientists in the field, like myself, and spending time with them in both a professional and leisure setting, was the perfect combination of two worlds. I am also very happy to have met individuals leading the collective field of Regenerative Medicine and to have levelled with them on what my next steps should be in my career. It was certainly a memorable and fulfilling experience – I already look forward to next year’s FIRM symposium.

Once again I would like to thank TCES through which I learned about FIRM, as well as for the financial support to attend this incredible event.


TERMIS-EU 2016, Uppsala, Sweden – Catarina Costa Moura

The European Chapter Meeting of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society – TERMIS-EU 2016 was held in the beautiful and charming town of Uppsala, Sweden. The conference, with the theme “Towards Future Regenerative Therapies”, took place in the modern Uppsala Concert and Congress from the 28th of June to the 1st of July 2016.

I was given the opportunity to present a poster about my research on non-destructive techniques to follow skeletal stem cell differentiation for skeletal repair and regeneration. Overall, I think TERMIS-EU 2016 was a great conference and it was an incredible opportunity to discuss my/others’ research work with leading experts within the tissue engineering and regenerative medicine community. And there were fantastic plenary sessions at the conference!

Additionally, this year TERMIS-EU organised the Business Plan Competition and my team (FedOx) was selected as one of the seven finalists from more than 30 applications. We presented our business idea in the main hall and it was an amazing experience. We definitely gained invaluable mentorship from TERMIS-EU expert team of senior healthcare managers, experienced entrepreneurs and leading scientists.

I am delighted I had the opportunity to attend this high-quality international meeting, and I gratefully acknowledge the travel bursary awarded by TCES – Tissue and Cell Engineering Society


TERMIS-EU 2016 meeting held in Uppsala, Sweden – Rhiannon Grant

I was very pleased to be awarded a travel bursary from TCES which allowed me to attend the TERMIS-EU 2016 meeting held in Uppsala, Sweden on 28th June – 1st July. The bursary helped fund my registration and travel costs, and I presented two posters; ‘Manipulating the extracellular matrix for liver tissue engineering’1 and ‘The synthetic production of cellular derived extracellular matrix for liver tissue engineering applications’2.

The conference focus was on ‘Toward future regenerative therapies’ and as such the work presented was of a very high quality; clinically translatable science with a real chance of helping people and animals with a myriad of diseases. As a young researcher, being surrounded by other researchers who share my belief that we as scientists are morally and ethically bound to produce translatable work and not waste animals on unrealistic studies was inspiring.

The conference provided me with the opportunity to also liaise with commercial agents who are interested in regenerative medicine and bridging the gap from bench to bedside. This increased my understanding of what regulatory bodies and clinical agents need me to achieve in order to take my work towards patient treatment.

There were multiple sessions running on each day of the conference which meant there was a plethora of topics for me to choose from. I found the sessions ‘The Role of Regenerative Medicine in Providing a Solution to the Worldwide Organ Shortage’ and ‘Gene Therapy in tissue engineering’ of particular interest and have already taken steps to liaise with relevant presenters on collaborative projects. Attending the SYIS networking evening events also helped me with meeting researchers with whom I could build collaborative projects.

TERMIS-EU 2016 was an excellent, relevant conference which provided me with a chance to integrate with other tissue engineers and aided my development as a translational scientist. I am very appreciative of my TCES travel bursary, which provided me with the opportunity to attend the conference.


TERMIS Society EU Conference, Uppsala, 2016 – Melissa Rayner

The 2016 annual TERMIS EU -meeting was held at the Uppsala Concert and Congress (UKK) Uppsala, Sweden. The meeting opened with an extraordinary performance by the soprano singer, Arno Raunig which proceeded the diverse programme of workshops and lectures. The organised events covered an extensive variety of research complimenting the theme ‘Towards Future Regeneration Therapies’.

The parallel lectures sessions allowed the attendees to gain an insight into the wide variety and interdisciplinary research in the field, but also the translation capabilities of the developing applications. My personal highlight was a plenary lecture given by Prof. Dai Jianwu from the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences which was inspirational in demonstrating the extensive possibilities that can be achieved through regenerative medicine and applications in spinal cord repair.

I had the great opportunity to give an oral presentation on my work developing a 3D-engineered neuronal cell culture as a means to screen drugs for peripheral nerve regenerative properties. I felt it was a platform for me to establish where my work fits into this field of research.

Poster sessions ran between each themed lecture session to showcase the comprehensive work covered in the field which aided networking opportunities. The posters presented in each session complimented the lectures given, allowing early researches to discuss their research and demonstrate the relevance of their work in the field.

The success of the meeting was celebrated by a grand Gala Dinner at Rikssalen at the Uppsala castle. Thank you to the TERMIS organising meeting and TCES for the travel bursary.


SELECTBIO Bioprinting and 3D Printing in the Life Sciences 2016 – GZ Teoh

The Bioprinting and 3D Printing in the Life Sciences conference was held at Academia, within the Singapore General Hospital Campus on July 21-22nd, with an additional tour of the facilities at the Centre for 3D Printing, hosted by Professor Chua Chee Kai, Executive Director, Singapore Centre for 3D Printing (SC3DP) on July 20th 2016. Prof. Chua also officially opened the conference on day 1.

About 60 delegates flew in to Singapore from across the globe; attendees were a good mix of academics and industrial scientists. The majority of the talks on day 1 highlighted the current position of 3D printing and bioprinting, whilst the talk by William Whitford, Strategic Solutions Leader of the GE Healthcare Life Sciences division highlighted the importance of collaborations between industry and academia. The question and answer sessions were particularly informative and indicated the quality and breadth of expertise in the room.

Prof Marcy Zenobi-Wong gave an impressive presentation at the start of day 2; another notable presentation was from Dr Payal Mukherjee, an ENT surgeon from the University of Sydney’s RPA Institute of Academic Surgery who demonstrated how 3D printing has greatly contributed to improvements of a patients’ understanding of clinical procedures.

After lunch on Day 2, Tobias Grix from TU Berlin was awarded the poster prize for his work on developing a 3D bioprinted liver equivalent for human-on-a-chip toxicity screenings. The final session on day 2 then focussed on 3D printing for cartilage tissue engineering.

Overall, the conference has highlighted that significant progress has been made in the fields of 3D printing and bioprinting in the last 5 years and it is a field that will continue to grow and contribute to advances in tissue engineering.


Society for Experimental Biology Brighton 2016 – Stephen Thorpe

The Society for Experimental Biology (SEB) annual meeting is the premier forum for experimental biology research in the UK and across Europe. Given the breadth of the SEB membership, the annual meeting programme covers all areas of experimental biology from energy constraints on ecology, integrative omics, hormone receptors and enhancing biology education to name but a few. These topics illustrate the diversity and opportunities for inter-disciplinary collaboration on offer at this meeting, with over 800 attendees from all sorts of backgrounds presenting across 9 parallel streams.

As a bioengineer working with Prof David Lee at Queen Mary University of London, my interests lie in the understanding of how mechanical stimuli impact cell function; particularly the role of the nucleus as a sensor of mechanical stimuli, and modulator of mechano-responsive signalling in stem cells. What drew my attention to this meeting was the addition of a new stream of sessions within the Cell Section on the “Dynamic organisation of the nucleus”. This stream comprised a mixture of oral and poster presentations with contributions from various international leaders in plant and animal cell nucleus organisation. My abstract entitled “Lamin AC localisation and phosphorylation in response to cyclic tensile strain is dependent on stem cell differentiation state” was accepted for an oral presentation.

The conference programme began on Sunday July 3rd with some peripheral sessions run by the SEB focussed on early career researchers and gaining impact from our research. The conference proper started on Monday the 4th with some award sessions. These were followed by parallel sessions where I opted for the stream on “super resolution microscopy helping to solve biological questions” which included talks across the various super resolution techniques providing useful basis for technique comparisons, concluding with an excellent talk on quantitative super-resolution imaging of calcium channels in cardiac myocytes by Prof Christian Soeller from the University of Exeter. Day 1 concluded with the Bidder Lecture which this year took the form of a tribute to Prof Roger Woledge followed by a wine trail, which involved tasting a lot of unlabelled wine and guessing the bottle based on a sommelier’s description; needless to say this resulted in many a fruitful conversation.

Day 2 began with more award lectures, followed by parallel sessions which saw the launch of the SEB Dynamic Organisation of the Nucleus Special Interest Group’s stream by Prof David Evans (Oxford Brookes University). This stream ran for the remainder of the conference over days 2, 3 and 4 and included talks from both animal and plant scientists focussing largely on chromatin organisation and its association with the nuclear envelope. This was typified by work presented by Dr Megan King from Yale School of Medicine on the mechanical impact of chromatin tethering to the nuclear envelope. Other work presented by Dr Eric Schirmer from the University of Edinburgh demonstrated a novel role for nuclear envelope transmembrane proteins in regulating chromosome rearrangement and gene expression during myogenic differentiation. Day 2 concluded with my talk which was followed by a poster session.

Day 3 of the Nuclear Envelope sessions saw a shift away from the nuclear envelope proteins toward the nuclear lamina, a filamentous network within the nucleus, with a focus on disease models of muscular dystrophy and premature ageing. Day 4 continued in the same vein with an emphasis toward relating nucleus organisation to epigenetic changes, and saw the conclusion of the meeting with the conference dinner held at the Brighton Dome.

One of the key outcomes of this meeting for me was a new awareness of the parallels between animal and plant both in the highly conserved mechanisms of nuclear organisation, and more broadly across disciplines where techniques employed in one kingdom can be easily applied to another. In summary, SEB Brighton 2016 was a great cross-disciplinary conference with the addition of a new biennial special interest group session on nucleus organisation and a great mix of keynote and student/postdoc presentations. I would like to thank TCES for helping me travel to and attend this meeting where in addition to showcasing my research, I have built and maintained some important collaborative links and friendships.


TERMIS EU 2016, Uppsala, Sweden – Dharaminder Singh

As I am now in the final few months of my PhD I have over 3 years worth of useful data that I wanted to present. Termis EU in Uppsala Sweden, provided a fantastic opportunity to present my interesting findings and to take on board the opinions and ideas of other scientists. It provided me with an opportunity to network, form collaborations and gain further knowledge of the research being performed in the wider field.

The presentations at Termis were extremely useful. I particularly enjoyed the talks from Stephen Badylak, Molly Stevens and Ali Khademhosseini.  They were insightful and allowed us to think deeper about the field of Tissue Engineering.

My research area is largely peripheral nerve related, so I also enjoyed talks from James Phillips. I met James and also some of his group at the conference and was able to discuss and compare ideas; discussions which were continued a few weeks later at TCES London.

Overall I feel the conference went really well. My research was well received and I made many lasting contacts. I also gained knowledge and ideas that I may hope to use and develop on for my future work.


TERMIS EU 2016 Conference – Uppsala, Sweden – Chand

The ‘Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine in Science’ European conference was held in Sweden, Uppsala from the 28th June – 1st July. The opening ceremony began with a fantastic soprano soloist performance by Arno Raunig where he sang over a large scale of octaves.

The first plenary lecture began with Ivan Martin from the University of Basel, Switzerland and his talk regarding re-engineering developmental processes for regenerative medicine which looked at the concept of engineering strategies by exploiting the body as the in vivo bioreactor through targeting the use of cells. This was followed by oral session 1 with sub-sessions in nano-materials and wound healing. This day was finished off with welcome cocktails and the SYIS social night in of the local bars called Terrassen in Uppsala!

The second day started with a great plenary talk by Professor Molly Stevens from Imperial College London on recent work in the development of implantable scaffolds. This was followed by further oral sessions and poster breaks throughout the day. Thursday was the gala dinner which was held in Uppsala’s beautiful Castle where we had a delicious dinner and sang some traditional Swedish songs! The last day of the conference was finished with an awards and closing ceremony where speakers and poster presenters were announced with winners including Jonathon Field from The University of Sheffield winning 3rd place in the poster presentations.

Overall, the TERMIS EU conference was an enjoyable meeting which allowed researchers in this field to disseminate their results and keep updated on the new advances in research that are taking place in this field.


CRYO2016 conference, Ottawa, Canada – Wai Ho

The CRYO2016 was held by Society for Cryobiology at Fairmount Chateau Laurier, Ottawa, Canada on July 24 – 27th, hosted by the Society for Crybiology President, Dr. Jason Acker.  Furthermore, the conference hosted the International Cryobiology Young Researchers (ICYR) events, this allowed me to make connection with my peers from around the world and build new contacts in Canada, Russia and etc.  Given my 1st oral presentation provided me an invaluable experience and boosted my confidence in a scientific public speaks.

About 250 delegates flew in to Ottawa, Canada from around the world with a range of different expertise from academic to industries, and highlighted the important role of cryobiology in medicine.  The full 4 days conference had a board spectrum of talks from macro to molecular level.  Day 1 focused on the improvement on the current cryopreservation and cell therapeutics; Day 2 was about current progress in organ cryopreservation and developments in cryomedicine; Day 3 was emphasised in the engineering advances & cryotechnology to enhance the development of cryopreservation; and Day 4 concentrated on the molecular level effects of cryo-stress on cells.  There were many amazing and inspired talks: Dr. David Courtment gave the first talk in the conference on the clinical trials of cell based and gene enhanced therapies that broadened my understanding of updated cell therapy on the bedsides.  Professor Ken Storey presented how epigenetic mechanisms affect the metabolic activity in cold-adapted animals that inspired that the art of genetic, which lightened my passion in molecular biology.

In summary, the conference has addressed the important role of cryobiology, especially in medicine, and forecasts that the field will expand and contribute more to regenerative medicine