Nanobio film festival projects posted to YouTube

Each summer, I teach a course through Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology for our training grant students in science communication. The course, Science Communication for Scientists and Engineers: Video News Release (EN.670.609), teaches students methods for communicating their research to a nontechnical audience. Topics covered include conveying your research in 60 seconds, scripting, story boarding and video camera filming and techniques.

inbt-abstractMartin Rietveld, INBT’s web and animation director, and the staff at the Digital Media Center on the Homewood campus, also play an integral part in this short summer workshop. The class meets four times for lecture and discussion, where they are shown many science videos and discuss case studies on what works in communicating technical information to a lay audience. They visit the DMC and INBT’s animation studio. The student groups then have approximately five weeks to work independently on their projects. At the end of the course, students show their completed videos at the INBT film festival.

This year the film festival was held on July 23 with nearly 50 people in attendance. We had 12 filmmakers split into three groups of four students.  The topics and teams and resulting videos follow. Enjoy!

Cancer

Ivie Aifuwa, chemical and biomolecular engineering, Denis Wirtz Lab

Moriah Knight, materials science, Peter Searson Lab

Christopher Saeui, biomedical engineering, Kevin Yarema Lab

Zinnia Xu, biomedical engineering, Peter Searson Lab

Lab-on-a-Chip Technology

Prasenjit Bose, physics, Daniel Reich Lab

Sarah Friedrich, biomedical engineering, Jeff Wang Lab

Erin Gallagher, materials science and engineering, Peter Searson Lab

Yu Shi, physics, Daniel Reich Lab

In Vitro Models for Testing Drug Delivery

Max Bogorad, materials science and engineering, Peter Searson Lab

Alex Komin. materials science and engineering, Peter Searson Lab

Luisa Russell, materials science and engineering, Peter Searson Lab

Bin Sheng Wong, chemical and biomolecular engineering, Konstantinos Konstantopoulos Lab

For all press inquiries regarding INBT, its faculty and programs, contact Mary Spiro, mspiro@jhu.edu or 410-516-4802.

 

 

 

Nano-bio film students in crunch mode for film fest

Every summer I teach Communication for Scientists and Engineers (EN 670.609) to the students in the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology graduate training programs. The course is a crash course in how to present science to non-technical audiences in an engaging way, that is, as film. We have just a few class sessions and then several weeks of out of class for filming and editing.

Each time I teach the course I change it a little. The first year, it was all writing. The next year I switched to video, and the students made videos about their own research. We did that for a couple more years. This year, however, I changed it again, and two teams are working on videos with slightly broader scope. One film will explain what nanotechnology is and the other will discuss regenerative medicine.

Team 1 working on "what is nanobiotechnology.

Team 1 working on “what is nanobiotechnology?”.

Today, the teams are in crunch mode to get their films done. They will probably be a little longer than the ones classes have made in the past, but hopefully they will be packed with interesting content. I invite you to come see what they have created at the INBT Film Festival on Wednesday, July 24 at 10:45 a.m. in 101 Remsen Hall on the Homewood campus. No RSVP is required. This event is open to the entire Hopkins community, including visitors.

During the premiere, the students will discuss some of the challenges they had in constructing their film and share what they learned during the process. I don’t expect the students to come out as filmmakers, although some have had the opportunity to make research-related videos later on in their graduate student careers. What I do hope, is that they understand how challenging it can be to explain a complex topic to people who don’t know much about science or engineering.

After the premiere, the videos will be uploaded to the INBT YouTube page, which you can find here.

This year’s students included:

Team 2 working on "what is regenerative medicine."

Team 2 working on “what is regenerative medicine?”.

Team 1 – John-michael Williford, Gregory Wiedman, Gregg Duncan and Nuala Del Piccolo

Team 2 – Herdeline Ardoña, Jason Lee, Jennifer Poitras and Charles Hu.

Tackling the brain’s barrier

Watch this video now. Click the image.

Much like a sentry at a border crossing, the network of tiny blood vessels surrounding the brain only allows a few important molecules in or out. Of course, there is good reason for this. The brain controls the senses, motor skills, breathing, and heart rate, as well as being the seat of thoughts and emotional experiences. Just as our tough plated skull offers a physical armor for the brain, the blood-brain barrier shields our brain from potentially harmful substances at the molecular level.

“Despite its powerful role in controlling bodily functions, the brain is extremely sensitive to chemical changes in environment,” said Peter Searson, director of Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology (INBT) and lead on the Blood Brain Barrier Working Group (BBBWG). The BBBWG is a collaboration between INBT and the Brain Science Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Oxygen, sugars (such as glucose), and amino acids used to build proteins can enter the brain from the bloodstream with no trouble, while waste products, such as carbon dioxide, exit the brain just as easily. But for most everything else, there’s just no getting past this specialized hurdle. In fact, the blood-brain barrier protects the brain so effectively that it also prevents helpful drugs and therapeutic agents from reaching diseased areas of the brain. And because scientists know very little about the blood-brain barrier, discovering ways to overcome the blockade has been a challenge.

“We still don’t know very much about the structure and function of the blood-brain barrier,” Searson said. “Because we don’t know how the blood-brain barrier works, it presents a critical roadblock in developing treatment for diseases of the central nervous system, including Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Alzheimer’s, autism, brain cancer, Huntington’s disease, meningitis, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), neuro-AIDS, Parkinson’s, and stroke. Treatable brain disorders are limited to depression, schizophrenia, chronic pain, and epilepsy. If we had a better understanding of how the blood-brain barrier worked, we would be in a better position to develop treatments for many diseases of the brain,” Searson said. But he added, even with a better understanding of the blood-brain barrier, humans cannot be used to study new therapies.

One way the BBBWG plans to surmount this roadblock is by creating an artificially engineered (or simulated) blood-brain barrier. An engineered artificial blood-brain barrier would allow researchers to conduct studies that simulate trauma to or diseases of the blood-brain barrier, such as stroke, infection, or cancer.

“It would also give us insight into understanding of the role of the blood-brain barrier in aging,” said Searson. Drug discovery and the development of new therapies for central nervous system diseases would be easier with an artificial blood-brain barrier and certainly safer than animal or human testing. Such an artificial membrane could be used as a platform to screen out drugs used to treat maladies outside the brain, but which have unwanted side effects, such as drowsiness.

The creation of such a platform will require the skills of a multidisciplinary team that includes engineers, physicists, neuroscientists and clinicians working together to bring new ideas and new perspectives, Searson added, and will build on recent advances in stem cell engineering and the development of new biomaterials. Current members of the BBBWG include researchers from the departments of neuroscience, anesthesiology, psychiatry, pathology and pharmacology from the Hopkins School of Medicine and from the departments of mechanical engineering, chemical and biomolecular engineering and materials science from the Whiting School of Engineering.

One member of that multidisciplinary team is Lew Romer, MD, associate professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Cell Biology, Biomedical Engineering, and Pediatrics at the Center for Cell Dynamics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

“At a cellular level, the focus here is on the adhesive interface of the neurovascular unit – the place where the microcirculation meets the complex parenchyma (or functional surface) of the brain,” Romer said. “This is a durable but delicate and highly specialized region of cell-cell interaction that is responsive to biochemical and mechanical cues.”

Romer said work on the blood-brain barrier is a “fascinating and essential frontier in cell biology and translational medicine, and one that clinicians struggle to understand and work with at the bedsides of some of our sickest and most challenging patients from the ICU’s to the Oncology clinics. Development of an in vitro blood-brain barrier model system” that could be used in molecular biology and engineering manipulations would provide investigators with a powerful window into this vital interface,” Romer added.

Visit the Blood-Brain Barrier Working Group website here.

Watch a student video about current blood-brain barrier research here.

Story by Mary Spiro first appears in the 2012 edition of Nano-Bio Magazine.

Collagen video scores high in magazines reader’s choice vote

Screen capture from INBT’s video on collagen mimetic peptides.

The Scientist magazine has announced its annual Multimedia Awards—the Labbys—and Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology’s video on collagen mimetic peptides has been selected as a finalist. According to the voting, we are a strong second in the race. It appears voting is continuing well past the original June 30 deadline. So keep voting!

Help choose us as the top science video by going to this website (http://the-scientist.com/2011/06/15/2011-labby-video-finalists/#vote)  and selecting “Mimicking Collagen.” The video features Michael Yu, associate professor of materials science and engineering and some fantastic animations and illustration from INBT’s Animation studio. Animations in the video were created by Ella McCrea, a graduate from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and Nathan Weiss, a masters graduate from Johns Hopkins University.

Winners of the reader’s choice will be announced in the magazine and online in September. Top picks will also be chosen by The Scientist’s panel of judges, which includes the father of the infographic Nigel Holmes, Kirsten Sanford of the Science Channel (aka Dr. KiKi), Jeffrey Segall of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, and David Kirby of the University of Manchester.

You can only vote once, so share this link with your friends.

 

 

Voting for Johns Hopkins video in multimedia contest ends June 30

The Scientist magazine has announced its annual Multimedia Awards—the Labbies—and Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology’s video on collagen mimetic peptides has been selected as a finalist. But that just means we are in the finals. We need your vote to win!

Help choose us as the top science video by going to this website (http://ht.ly/5mZ9D) and voting for “Mimicking Collagen.” The video features Michael Yu, associate professor of materials science and engineering and some fantastic animations and illustration from INBT’s Animation studio.

Voting ends June 30, 2011 and winners of the reader’s choice will be announced in the magazine and online in September. Top picks will also be chosen by The Scientist’s panel of judges, which includes the father of the infographic Nigel Holmes, Kirsten Sanford of the Science Channel (aka Dr. KiKi), Jeffrey Segall of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, and David Kirby of the University of Manchester.

So vote now and often! Share this link with your friends.

Watch the video that made the Labby finals.

Collagen Mimetic Peptides