UniStem Day 2023:

Put on your gown and gloves and off you go: At this year’s international UniStem Day at the MHH, organised by the team of RESIST professor Dr. Nico Lachmann, Dr. Ruth Olmer and Dr. Sylvia Merkert, 33 senior high school students were able to experience stem cell research directly.

On the morning of 10 March, they learned through lectures how broken hearts can be healed, which path leads to an artificial stem cell niche and how lung diseases in children are treated. Afterwards, the pupils were able to conduct their own experiments on stem cell research in four different laboratories. The focus was on the liver, the lungs and the blood as well as the topic of gene therapy. For example, they were able to “split” stem cells, i.e. detach them from the nutrient medium and sow them again so that they continue to divide. They were also able to look at the cilia beating in lung epithelial cells and marvel at “beating” heart muscle cells made from stem cells. The young women and men pipetted to isolate bacterial genes and harvested stem cells to make cell aggregates that then produce immune cells in cell culture for infection research.

In the afternoon, the focus was on the various career paths that exist in research. The young women and men had the opportunity to get to know the different jobs and career stages in science – even in person. They were able to talk to students, high school graduates who are currently doing their Voluntary Scientific Year (FWJ), doctoral students and other researchers.

“I found it interesting to be allowed to experiment in a real laboratory myself, and it was especially exciting to learn about the different professions that exist in the field of research at a university,” reports 17-year-old Roz from the eleventh grade of the Lutherschule enthusiastically. “I really enjoyed the different experiments and especially the direct, personal exchange with the researchers. I definitely want to become a scientist,” says 19-year-old Charlie from Burgdorf Grammar School.

Worldwide, more than 600 research institutions opened their doors for UniStem Day on 10 March 2023 to devote an entire day to stem cell research together with around 40,000 interested schoolchildren. It took place for the eighth time. Hannover Medical School (MHH) was also involved again. The organisers were supported by the RESIST, the German Centre for Lung Research (DZL) and the Centre for Regenerative Medicine REBIRTH.