Stem cell enthusiasm and scientific fascination

Why will young people from all districts travel on a Friday to the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in Buch and spend UniStem Day working on stem cells? Because they have the opportunity to discuss stem cells with a heart surgeon and a basic researcher andbecause they can visit biotech companies, examine cells in the laboratory, discuss ethics and understand the CRISPR-Cas9 gene scissors.

With their enthusiasm for stem cells and their fascination for science, the students from the bio-performance courses are not alone - the nationwide UniStem Day attracts around 1500 young people to research institutions in 15 German cities. "For four years now, we have been creating an opportunity here to deal with current stem cell research, which is hardly represented in biology classes," explains Daniel Besser, UniStem Day initiator in Germany and CEO of the German Stem Cell Network GSCN.

Students in the lab on UniStemDay.

Daniel Besser organizes the Education Day at the Berlin-Buch Research Campus and is enthusiastic about the variety on offer. "At the MDC, the students meet real researchers, discuss ethical issues, see biotech companies as career prospects and deal with one of the most exciting and dynamic research fields of our time. Heart surgeon Professor Christof Stamm (German Heart Center Berlin) and MDC basic researcher Dr. Baris Tursun will present their science in lectures. Afterwards, the young people experience laboratory experiments in workshops, discuss ideas with young scientists, immerse themselves in ethical debates and deepen their knowledge of "genome editing" with CRISPR-Cas9. They get to know life and work at the MDC”.

In Europe, 99 universities and research institutions in 16 countries from Spain to Sweden, Greece to Great Britain and Poland to Portugal are participating on March 15th and expect 30,000 students. UniStem Day will be held for the first time worldwide in Colombia and Australia in 2019.

Stem cells have two outstanding properties: they multiply into identical copies and they differentiate into specialized cells with special properties. Two million red blood cells are formed per second from blood stem cells. Stem cell research wants to understand how these complex cell systems of the organs function, whether replacement tissue can be produced for possible therapeutic use, and it is looking for stem cell-based test systems for drugs.