Much like Bob Dylan’s song, “times are a changin’ ”, and so is the biotechnology lab. The study of stem cells and cellular differentiation processes has contributed to the advance of fields such as developmental biology or tissue regeneration. However, attention is now being paid to these cells not only as objects of study, but also as tools for research.
Increasingly striking projects are being devoted to the application of stem cells in the design of new models of organs or living systems and processes, from the development of organoids to “organs-on-a-chip” - and Bioengineering is playing a leading role. Ideally, these models would allow easier and reliable experimentations, limiting the use of animal in research, for such diverse applications as study of organ/tissue development, disease modeling or drug screening.
How close are we to this future? Keep an eye on the panel “Biotech Lab 2.0” to find out!

Pedro Baptista

Aragon Biomedical Research Institute (CIBA), Spain
Prof. Pedro Baptista is the founder of the Organ Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory at the Aragon Biomedical Research Institute (CIBA) and is currently Group Leader at the Aragon Health Research Institute (IIS Aragon), in Zaragoza and Assistant Professor at the Biomedical and Aerospace Engineering Department of University Carlos III of Madrid.
In line with his main research focus, Prof. Pedro Baptista will be presenting an approach for the creation of a 3D liver organoid from human fetal liver progenitor cells self-assemble inside acellular liver extracellular matrix scaffolds, not only recapitulating several aspects of hepato-biliary organogenesis but also simulating Alagille syndrome.

Lino Ferreira

Lino Silva Ferreira holds a Ph.D. in Biotechnology from the University of Coimbra and did postdoctoral work at INEB and MIT. He joined the Center of Neurosciences and Cell Biology (CNC, University of Coimbra) in 2008 and is currently the director of the Biomaterials and Stem Cell-Based Therapeutics research group, CNC coordinator of the MIT-Portugal Program and the founder of the biotech company Matera. In 2012 he was awarded with a prestigious European Research Council starting grant and in 2016 with an ERA Chair position in Aging. The 100 peer-reviewed published papers support such a solid curriculum.
His work, about which he will be talking, focuses on the development of tissue models and nanomedicine platforms for the most transverse and wide applications, from basic stem cell biology research to drug and disease studies.

João Ribas

Harvard Medical School, United States
João Ribas holds an M.Sc. in Molecular Biology from the University of Coimbra in collaboration with the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IBMC), University of Porto. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate working on organs-on-a-chip, microfluidics, tissue engineering and medical devices at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology Division.
His talk will be about organ-on-a-chip platforms, which aim at simulating the complex microenvironment of human organs using microbioreactors. Beyond mimicking healthy organ functions, a growing number of organ-on-a-chip devices have been used to model human diseases, serving as a platform for drug discovery and testing.