Exploring the materials of tomorrow in Gothenburg

Curious how 3D printing and biomaterials might change the world as we know it? The NFGL Local Network in Gothenburg offers some insights from a recent conference

Exploring the materials of tomorrow in Gothenburg

The first full week of November was pretty eventful at Chalmers University of Technology with conferences and seminars highlighting research and technologies in life science, health, and medicine.

On the 6th and 7th of November, the university hosted the Materials for Tomorrow conference – an impactful meeting for scientists and industry to share knowledge, collaborate, and tackle challenges in materials science and its applications in health.

From implants, 3D printing, and biosensors,to nanotechnologies, nanomaterials, and many other interesting topics, the event shed a light on the current state in this field, developments, challenges, and future expectations.

Many promising materials are being developed and used to provide better prostheses and implants to provide a shorter recovery timeline for patients.

The main challenge is to ensure a stable interface with body tissues and also to reduce infections caused by complications that may arise due to the inability of the body tissues to integrate properly with the inserted materials.

And this problem is being tackled using different materials such as coating titanium implants with ceramic, which has shown good integration with bone and acceptable vascularization; or the development of antibacterial surface coatings for prevention.

3D Bioprinting of cartilage tissue to solve knee cartilage degeneration and other related joint problems was also presented.

Furthermore, organic materials are also being developed to improve the quality of 3D printing of human soft tissue and there are also current studies that address the possibility of large scale production of cells and the possibility of their autonomous reproduction when needed.

Another important aspect discussed was the role of ethics and regulations to ensure patient safety and the proper framework of conducting research and clinical trials in this highly-competitive and booming field.

Multiple resources on ethics and regulations are available in Sweden for conducting scientific research, experiments, and product development such as the Medical Products Agency in Sweden and Codex (rules and guidelines for research) websites. This is to follow the great philosophy of Hippocrates – the father of medicine: “first, do no harm”.

Having had the chance to interact with many interesting attendees and speakers, many valuable opinions and insights were exchanged.

For instance, Professor Pentti Tengvall from Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg shared his views on the challenging task of modeling living cells and studying mechanical stimulant effects due to the variety of cells and the dynamic nature of their interactions.

He also highlighted the importance of transparency and adherence to approved procedures in Sweden.

Johanna Höög from the University of Gothenburg held an interesting session about the discovery of a helix-shaped protein found within microtubules – which were thought to be hollow – using cryo-electron tomography on human sperm.

This discovery raises new questions regarding the identification, formation, function, and clinical significance of this protein.

During the fika break, I was able to discuss with her the significance of this discovery and its potential applications, which could involve male fertility and related issues.

From a different perspective, Materials Engineering student Kirana from Chalmers, expressed her interest in relating her studies to biology and applying materials engineering to different fields.

Many of the speakers and attendees also emphasized the importance of interdisciplinary cooperation to provide solutions that would improve the quality of patients’ lives.

The event was very inspiring with many valuable ideas to take home but I would like to emphasize a few:

There is a great opportunity to innovate and create solutions for healthcare and medicine.

This is a highly interdisciplinary field, and there is room for scientists, engineers, and innovators with different backgrounds and skills to contribute.

Surround yourself with passionate and knowledgeable people; there is a lot to learn from others and many opportunities to collaborate and come up with valuable but also innovative approaches to enhance the quality of life for medical patients.

Finally I hope you all enjoy a healthy journey and a rewardable experience here in Sweden!

By Tamara Goudian, Chair of the NFGL Local Network in Gothenburg. She is studing Biomedial Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology


Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

Ronoh Philip, who is studying for his masters degree in Infectious Disease Control at Södertörn University, explains why he thinks the Swedish concept of 'lagom' is the best way to achieve good social health.

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

During my one week orientation program on August 2019 at Södertörn University, we were presented with many aspects of Swedish culture and practices. One of the new aspects that I learnt was the “lagom culture”, As I quote one of the presenters about applying lagom to our studies, he said: ”Lagom will reduce your stressful burdens of hectic lecture schedules and ensure that you spend equal time of working and socializing in the university.”

So being a student with a background in public health and society, I got interested and searched for the deeper meaning of lagom, and how it can  apply to society and health. I found out that it is a Swedish way of life, it is a concept which means not too much and not too little, just enough. I learnt that it came from a Viking tradition laget om which means 'around the group' and was allegedly used to describe just how much mead or soup one should drink when passing the bowl around in the group.

If this concept is applied to achieve social health goals, it would really fit well. So, what is social health at first? Social health is how you interact with other people and adapt in different situations, it deals with how people in society deal with each other. It is important to note that there is a close link between good social health and improvement of the other aspects of human health, this can lead to the achievement of SDG goal of good health and wellbeing. It also leads to self-satisfaction and happiness; no wonder Sweden is ranked as one the happiest countries in the world. It is ranked 7th in 2019, according to world happiness report. I believe lagom has a big role in this achievement.

In the country where I come from, Kenya, one of the greatest challenges we face in our society, is the ability for people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to interact and form positive and cohesive relationships with each other. From my perspective, when I finish my studies and return, lagom will be worth implementing in the workplace, the place where I live and the society as whole, as it is the best way of finding simple, attainable solutions to our everyday worries like stress, eating better, having downtime and achieving happiness. It’s a balance of work and life, so everything is in sustainable existence with each other.

My goal during my entire university studies at Södertörn, will be to learn more about the lagom principle and also be able to apply it on our SI NFGL Local Network platform, because it is surely one of the best ways to achieve a good  work-life balance, reaching consensus with my colleagues and adapting a team minded approach in dealing with issues in an organization and the society.