Ever heard of iPS? Students learn about stem cells

The MDC once again took part in UniStem Day this year, which took place for the ninth time overall. That day, 230 students from 14 Berlin schools learned about stem cell research.
Image: Anna Witzel / GSCN

“Meet your local scientist!” – and the students did. At five tables in the MDC.C foyer, they chatted with five young scientists. “It was awesome, the researchers told us about experiments with worms or muscles, and we could ask lots of questions about training and the course of studies,” Minh Nguyen tells us. She is a student at the Tagore-Gymnasium secondary school in Berlin Marzahn and is very pleased to have learned a lot about iPS cells: “This information will be very useful for my exam presentation on therapeutic cloning as part of my school leaving exams,” she says.

The program for this year’s UniStem Day also included lectures, a Science Slam and five workshops. Career counselling and tours of the Campus Buch completed the morning program. An interactive afternoon followed: in the quiz “The Stem Cell Show” the students showed off what they learned and in panel of stem cell researchers answered student's questions. Daniel Besser, Managing Director of the German Stem Cell Network, along with Sebastian Diecke and Annika Fendler of MDC explained why necrosis is more of an immune system problem and not a suitable candidate for stem cell therapy, or how iPS technology can also be used for the protection of species. For example, the researchers want to reprogram stem cells of the endangered northern white rhinoceros to become germ cells. This aids the reproduction of the last three remaining white rhinos. The MDC is participating in this international research project.

The teachers were also very happy with this year's UniStem Day. “I thought the two presentations were very good, and believe one of my students found a field of interest today – the heart,” the biology teacher Mrs. Wijers tells us. She teaches at the Schiller-Gymnasium secondary school in Charlottenburg and is already planning to attend the next UniStem Day.

UniStem Day is held across Europe. A total of 75 universities and research centers in seven countries participated this year and 27,000 youths attended. Unistem Day at MDC was organised by the German Stem Cell Network (GSCN).

Impressions from the event

Further information

All images: Anna Witzel / GSCN