While the waves clashed against the walls of the historic Hotel Cenobio dei Dogi in the pictural village Camogli on the Ligurian coast, the audience of the Nanoengineering for Mechanobiology Conference 2022 was witnessing the final round of the N4M Young Scientist Award 2022. In months of preparation, the award was organized by five PhD students of the University Hospital Aachen and Forschungszentrum Jülich, three of them from the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Anatomy (Aleksandra Kozyrina, Jana Schieren, Anna Sternberg). Within their research, all of the students focus on the interplay between mechanical forces and the biological response in living matter, a research field called mechanobiology. “What is missing, however, is the link to the clinics”, Jana points out. “We know a lot about the basic processes that happen in a cell, but there are almost no approaches on how to use mechanobiological findings in diagnostical or therapeutical manners.”
In order to change this, the students decided that it is time for translation. Therefore, the Young Scientist Award was brought to life, inviting young scientists to present an approach how to use their research topic in a translational way. The most feasible and innovative idea was to be rewarded by a price money to kick-start the project. To raise an attractive price money, the PhD students launched a crowdfunding campaign. – “We quickly learned that setting up a gofundme webpage is not enough. We had to create informative social media content, reach out to companies as possible sponsors, design a homepage with guidelines for participation, coordinate everything with the conference organizers, and so much more. And all of this besides our actual work as doctoral researchers!”, Anna explains.
But the work has paid off. Clarissa Tomasina (Maastricht University, MERLN) and Manuel Estévez Amado (Complutense University of Madrid) excelled with their project on a novel bone regeneration strategy involving superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles. They (virtually) received the Award and a price money of 3300€ during dinner in the historical halls of Castello d’Albertis in Genova. “We are super curious to see how the money will help to fire up this exciting new research project!”, Aleksandra says. In the name of the whole team we congratulate the winners!
Visit our webpage: N4M Young Scientist Award (rwth-aachen.de)