October 12th 2015 – Tuula Eriksson, University College London

Tuula ErikssonI am just about to finish a PhD in tissue-engineered 3D tumour models at University College London (UCL). I did my undergrad in Molecular Biology at the University of Glasgow, which is where I stumbled upon on-going work on regenerative medicine constructs and tissue engineering. Along the way, I also did placements on cancer biology, e.g. at the Wellcome trust in Oxford.

One of my lecturers also held a really interesting short workshop on advanced microscopy techniques (advanced for undergrads who’d at that point only got to use light microscopes in the labs).

Based on these three fun aspects of my degree, I then decided to apply for an MSc in Regenerative Medicine at UCL in London. This turned out to be one of the best things I did; a fresh change of scenery, new ideas by new lecturers and a very inspiring interdisciplinary atmosphere.

I ended up doing my six-month MSc research project in a lab in the Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering department, and the rest is, as they say, history.

My PhD research has involved developing two models for an oral jaw tumour called ameloblastoma. The tumour initially develops inside the jaw bone, is surgically removed, but often redevelops a few years later in the soft tissues surrounding the original site. My research has developed co-culture models of the tumour with both a soft-tissue scaffold and a bone-like scaffold to see what happens in the tumour, how the cells interact with each other, if there is an invasion happening, and what drugs we could potentially use to reduce the size of the tumour in the clinic.

I’m also interested in things like engineering, cell mechanotransduction, other types of tissue engineering and cells in general. Currently, I’m also interested in job opportunities in a tissue engineering lab, as I’ll need a post doc or job soon!

I tweet @tuulawoo, where my aim is to follow the 70:20:10 rule, where 70% of my tweets are work related (usually complaining about a microscope), 20% are other interesting stuff (running and cycling) and 10% are random (in my case, mostly dogs).

During my week on Biotweeps, I intend on discussing things like my research, the need for 3D models, tissue engineering concepts, writing, papers, supervisors, conferences, STEM, out-reach, and plenty more. Let the thesis writing procrastination commence!

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