Signals Blog

Stroke, lung damage and mathematical modeling. You may not think these three topics have much in common and for the most part you’d be right. But they have more than one common link.

First, each is either a disease focus or methodology within stem cell research. Secondly, each subject –biomaterials to aid stem cell engraftment in a stroke-damaged brain; the use of mesenchymal stem cells from umbilical cord tissue to repair the lungs and brain of extremely premature babies; and, mathematical models to better predict success in generating induced pluripotent stem cells – is the research focus of PhD students working in labs in Ontario, Canada.

And, most importantly, each one is the subject of animated short videos showing us just how passionate and motivated the research leaders of tomorrow are. I produced these through the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine and although I only had the budget to create three, there were many more I could have done; the talent pool is that deep.

The researchers you’ll meet in these three videos were selected based on a pitch video and, in addition to appearing in the videos below, they drafted the scripts, reviewed storyboards and animation sequences and provided the narration.

It’s their own research, told in their own words. Impressive work from three equally impressive young female scientists. Take a look:

Episode 1: Nika Shakiba’s quest to improve the success rate of stem cell reprogramming

Episode 2: Samantha Payne is using biomaterials to improve survival of transplanted cells after stroke

Episode 3: Marissa Lithopoulos hopes to improve outcomes for extremely premature babies with stem cells

Our regular feature, Right Turn, appears every Friday and we invite you to submit your own blog to info(at) We encourage you to be creative and use the right (!) side of your brain. We dare you to make us laugh! Right Turn features cartoons, photos, videos and other content to amuse, educate and encourage discussion.

As always, we welcome your feedback in the comment section.

The following two tabs change content below.
Lisa Willemse

Lisa Willemse

Lisa is a science communicator with 15+ years' experience in the fields of regenerative medicine, child development and technology. She launched this blog (first as the Stem Cell Network Blog) in 2009, and served as co-editor until April 2015. She is currently the Senior Communications Advisor for the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine and has recently contributed to Motherboard, Science Borealis and the Genome Alberta and Canadian Blood Services blogs. Follow her on Twitter and Medium @WillemseLA.