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Q&A Cristina Nostro                               Research Highlights

                                                                 MATURE CELLS, BETTER OUTCOMES

                                                                 A technical discovery by postdoctoral researcher
               What got you interested in science?               Dr. Wahiba Dhahri (left) in the lab of Dr. Michael
               My first encounter with science was in high school   Laflamme (right) revealed a way to produce
               biology class, and I found it fascinating. I went   mature heart muscle cells in the lab. This approach
               on to do a degree in biology, including a one-year   overcomes a hurdle to experimental cell therapies,
               exchange in Manchester, UK. That’s where I saw    which currently use immature heart muscle cells.
               what research is and the potential that stem cells   Using mature cells to restore lost heart muscle led
               have for treating disease. This experience led me   to better functional recovery without unwanted
               to do a PhD at the University of Manchester and a   side effects such as arrhythmia, or irregular
               postdoc at Mount Sinai in New York.               heartbeat. Full Story / Scientific Article

               What was your childhood like?                     HELPING CELLS TAKE ROOT
               I grew up in Italy and lived in different regions—
               the beautiful Calabria, where my dad is from;
               and Tuscany, where my mum is from. As a family,
               we travelled a lot and thanks to my parents, I
               discovered the beauty of art everywhere, whether
               it was in a gallery in a big city or in the streets of a
               small town. Art really shaped my upbringing.

               Does science satisfy your artistic side?
               Science is creative and artistic. The most obvious   A study co-led by Drs. Nostro and Vasconcelos
               artistic aspect relates to communicating your     (above) showed that transplanting tiny blood
               findings, which often involves schematics and     vessels with pancreatic cells reversed diabetes in
               drawings. I love drawing and working out ways to   laboratory models. “When co-transplanted with
               visually communicate our findings to the public.   microvessels, stem cell–derived pancreatic cells
                                                                 started to normalize blood sugar levels seven weeks
               Any advice for those considering science?         after transplantation, while the cells transplanted
               Science requires passion, curiosity and resilience.   alone did not,” says Dr. Vasconcelos. Also, the
               We often repeat experiments many times to test    transplants retained up to four times more cells
               a hypothesis, so it also takes determination. It’s   after three months than those without microvessels.
               important to have a network of people with whom   Full Story / Scientific Article
               you can discuss your data, look at your results
               with fresh eyes and learn at each step.
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