2019 Travel Reports

TERMIS EU Chapter Meeting, Rhodes, Greece

Arianna Ferrini, Imperial College London

The European Chapter Meeting of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS) took place in Rhodes, Greece between Monday 27th May ad Friday 31st May. TERMIS is the most prominent society in the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine and the European meeting was a great opportunity for >1200 delegates to present their work, network and learn about the latest discoveries in all the aspects of TERM. The theme of this year meeting was “Tissue Engineering Therapies: From Concept to Clinical Translation & Commercialisation”. This week-long meeting provided scientists, clinicians and industries a platform to discuss the recent advances and the current challenges of clinical translation of TERM strategies.

I was recently elected as Treasurer of the Student and Young Investigator Section (SYIS) for the European Council of TERMIS and this was my first conference in this role. SYIS are PhD students and post docs up to 3 years after the PhD. Together with the other 3 member of the SYIS Executing Committee (Chair, Chair-elect and Secretary), I planned and oversaw the networking and professional development activities throughout the week. These included SYIS co-chairing of conference sessions, two Meet the Mentor luncheons on Tuesday 28th and Wednesday 29th, a Social Night on Wednesday 29th, a Debate about open peer review on Wednesday 29th and awards for best poster and oral presentations. I also gave a talk in the Stem Cells session on Friday 31st and it was a great opportunity to present my PhD research now that I am writing my thesis and wrapping up my project.

I am very grateful to TCES for awarding me a Travel Bursary to offset my expenses for the conference giving me the possibility to participate in this exciting meeting. 


TERMIS European Chapter Meeting 2019, Rhodes, Greece

Angela Imere, Manchester University

The European Chapter Meeting of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS) was held in Rhodes, Greece, on 27th-31st May 2019. This year, the theme of the meeting was “Tissue Engineering Therapies: From concept to clinical translation and commercialisation” and it was aimed at scientists, clinicians and industries interested in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine therapies that aspire to revolutionise healthcare with their reparative capacity.

The conference hosted 7 oral sessions running in parallel each day, with specific sessions dedicated to poster presentations. This allowed attendees to tailor their experience according to individual research interests but also confront and share ideas with scientists from various fields. Symposia covered a various range of topics; from biomaterial science, bioprinting & biofabrication, microfluidics & bioreactors to stem cells, biophysical stimuli and in vitro models. Among all, the session held on 30th May focused on tendon, ligament and enthesis was particularly interesting to me and my research. A highlight was the insightful talk given by Prof. Docheva, who discussed the translation of basic tendon science into clinical practise. In the same session, I presented my work on a 3D bioprinted/electrospun bilayer biomembrane for regeneration of tendon synovial sheath, which gave me the opportunity to receive valuable feedback, have productive discussions and network with some of the best researchers in tendon tissue engineering.

This conference was a great opportunity to broaden my knowledge, connect to potential collaborators and introduce me to the novel and cutting-edge technologies that were presented by conference sponsors. Overall, I think that TERMIS EU 2019 will benefit my future career and I am grateful to TCES for its contribution towards my attendance of this high-quality conference.



Nicola Foster, Keele University

Held in Rhodes, Greece, TERMIS EU 2019 featured a broad range of symposia focused around both tissue-specific applications such as skin, cartilage and bone and over-arching topics and techniques such as biomaterials and bio-printing.  This year there was also a big focus on translation and commercialisation.

Highlights included talks from Alberto Saiani on self-assembling peptides and Justin Cooper-White on the mechanics of biomaterials and tissues. My talk entitled “Chondrogenic differentiation of human embryonic stem cells is enhanced with the application of a Wnt platform” was well received and resulted in one potential collaboration. In addition, I met with a number of academics from other institutions and discussed more possible collaborations. Overall, my time at TERMIS EU 2019 was very productive and I thank TCES for supporting my attendance.



Chunching Li, Imperial College

To begin with, I would like to thank the society again for providing me such a generous travel grant, which solidly support this amazing journey at Rhodes, an island with vast sandy beaches, emerald waters, and abundant history and culture.

In the conference, I gave an invited talk on my work: Force-based Engineering of Osteochondral gradients, which also published this year on Advanced Materials. The presentation is a great success. The audience showed their interest and provided insightful suggestions on the plausible direction of the future study. This is only the second time I gave an oral presentation at an international conference. Without the support of the
grant, I can not have this fulfilled.

Besides sharing my research, I also learned from lots of good talks given by top-tier researchers. Indeed, this is a fruitful journey. Aside from sessions in my field, talks of other research fields including bio-printing and immune response with biomaterials are also brilliant. Moreover, I have the chance to meet and chat with well-known researchers such as Jennifer Elisseeff (John Hopkins), Marcy Zenobi-Wong (ETH Zurich), Jöns Hilborn
(Uppsala University), and Fergal O’Brien (Royal College of Surgeon in Ireland).

Aside from academic research, I’ve also attended talks from the industry. These include talks given by CartiHeal (clinical trials result on Agili-C), Bone Therapeutics, and 3D printing industry leader such as regenHU. Attending these talks also make me re-think how could make my research more translational and eventually beneficial to patients.

Lastly, I would like to thank the committee one more time. The support the society provided truly and substantially assist early stage researchers at the start of the career.


Materials Research Society (MRS) Fall Meeting and Exhibit 2019, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Cosimo Ligorio, The University of Manchester

The MRS Fall Meeting and Exhibit 2019 was an international conference held in Boston, Massachusetts, USA on 1st-6th December 2019.  Every year, this international conference showcases interdisciplinary research in both fundamental and applied materials science, ranging from energy storage materials to characterisation and applications of soft materials and biomaterials. Due to its inherent interdisciplinary nature, this year the conference hosted 54 symposia and attracted more than 6000 scientists from around the world.

Personally, I was very interested in attending the symposia related to soft materials and biomaterials, going from multiscale materials engineering to hydrogel 3D printing and cell therapies. However, due to the vast programme available I had also the opportunity to explore other fields of tissue engineering that I have never considered before, such as mechanobiology, cancer therapies and neural interfaces. On the first day of the conference, for example, I attended a tutorial on mechanobiology in which we looked at the chemistry of the molecules involved, but also at the design of new advanced materials to elicit a cell fate. I found this very interesting, pushing me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to think outside the box.

On the following days, I had the chance to meet and chat with well-known researchers and professors in the field of hydrogel fabrication and hydrogel for regenerative medicine, such as Prof Xuanhe Zhao (MIT) who gave a talk about tough adhesive hydrogels for suture application and Prof Alan Grodzinsky (MIT), who explained how intricate is the transport of biomolecules into stiff gels to for the treatment of cartilage defects. In the same session, on Friday 6th December I presented my work on peptide/graphene oxide hydrogel nanocomposites for nucleus pulposus tissue engineering. The talk was well-received and I was awarded a prize sponsored by the Journal of Materials Chemistry B for my talk in this session.

This conference was my first one in US and it was a great success. Before and after my talk I had very productive discussions with researchers from around the world and this was profoundly important to enlarge my network of colleagues and potential collaborators. Indeed, attending this conference not only gave me the chance to present my work in front of a world leading expert audience, but it also gave me the opportunity to advertise my research work with the aim to find potential PDRA positions following my PhD. All of this would not have been possible without the support of the travel grant; therefore I am deeply grateful to the TCES for its precious contribution in supporting my attendance.


30th International Symposium on ALS/MND

Alinda Fernandes, KCL, UK

The 30th International Symposium on ALS/MND was held at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Perth, Australia. This three-day conference provided an excellent platform to network and form new collaborations, given its attendees are of, both biomedical and clinical backgrounds. Further the conference was attended by (Motor Neuron Disease) MND patient which I had the pleasure to meet and share my research. I would like to thank The Tissue and Cell Engineering Society who supported me with a Travel Grant that went towards the conference registration expenses.

My project focuses on targeting pathological TDP-43 protein as a therapeutic strategy for MND. Obtaining this award enabled me to establish important contacts with Prof Neil Cashman and Prof Don Cleaveland who are pioneers in the field of therapeutic strategies who are involved in high-profile clinical and pre-clinical studies. Additionally, I organised a Speed Networking and Mentoring session for Early Career Researchers with excellent contributions from well-established group leaders such as Prof Chris Shaw, Prof Carolyn Young, Prof Linda Greensmith, Prof Martin Turner, Prof Dorothee Lule and Prof Neil Cashman which enabled further connection with young researchers particularly at Macquarie Centre for MND. I am grateful to the MNDA including Dr Brian Dickie for agreeing to support this initiative which was a success and to Sarah Thompson who co-organised this event.

The plenary speaker talks covered hot topics such as the role of the glymphatic system as a driver of toxic protein aggregation, Biomarker Challenge by Prof Martin Turner on and the emerging role of artificial intelligence for research by Prof Thomas Oxley which I found particularly fascinating. The oral sessions covered a broad range of topics which I found very interesting and engaging. Talks focused on/introduced disease models such as genetically engineered iPSCs and CRISPR-based mouse models. It was highly motivating to see that, in general, research has progressed rapidly especially towards realising clinical translation. I also particularly enjoyed the sessions on TDP-43 and Proteostasis as this is my area of interest. It was exciting to learn about novel developments that I was previously unfamiliar with such as the contribution of non-protein amino acids and endogenous retroviral elements towards neurodegeneration. Further during the poster sessions, I had the opportunity to meet researchers who informed me of their research fields and MND patients which was inspiring. As such, I feel even more motivated to pursue my research in developing novel therapies targeting pathogenic TDP-43 for MND.

It was a pleasure to meet delegates from previous MNDA conferences as well those I met for the first time. The meeting brought together researchers from not only Australia but Asia and Europe too! I also had the opportunity to socialise with new people at the Global Walk to D’Feet and at the BBQ afterwards which was great!  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 career development as an Early Career MND Researcher.