Thursday, March 14, 2013

European stem cell researchers to talk to 15,000 students tomorrow

The largest stem cell outreach event ever in Europe is taking place tomorrow. UNISTEM DAY 2013 expects to have stem cell scientists talking to 15,000 students from 250 high schools in Italy, Spain and the UK.

More than 200 experts from 41 universities will take part in talks, demonstrations, lab tours, games, video, theater and music related to stem cell science. The University of Milan Stem Cell Research Center developed the initiative with sponsorship from two European Union funded programs: NeuroStemCell and EuroStemCell.

I have to say I am a little envious. When we organize Stem Cell Awareness Day each October, we do usually get half a dozen countries to take part, but I don't think our total outreach to schools has ever reached 15,000. Last year, just in California, we did get researchers into more than 100 classrooms and reached over 3,000 high school students.

A friend, Sergio Pistoi, is the designated media contact and he encourages folks to follow the event on Twitter with the hashtag, #unistem2013. The initiative also has a Facebook page, and here is their main web site.

The students are being urged to share their thoughts and experiences during the day on social media. Should provide some fun reading.

The organization dedicated the day to the memory of Rita Levi-Montalcini, the Italian neuroscientist who died this year and who won the Nobel Prize in 1986 for research with growth factors. That field that has been critical to moving stem cell science forward. I worked with Levi-Montalcini for a science journalist workshop I organized in Milan once. She was a classy person who clearly supported the younger generation.

D.G.

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