Film Your Research Contest – Finalists’ Videos (Part 1)

Namrata Sengupta, Ph.D.
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The voting period for the popular choice award category in the JoVE Film Your Research contest ended on August 21, 2017, 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time. All our readers can still review and watch the videos of our top ten finalists in this and the second part of this blog post.

Not in any particular order, here is a list of five videos from the finalists:

1. Marie-Ève Wedge, Graduate student researcher, University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Research description: The worldwide incidence of pancreatic cancer is currently on the rise, unlike other types of cancer whose incidence is decreasing. This is in part due to the lack of effective therapies available to patients. Novel therapies are therefore urgently needed for pancreatic cancer patients. In an attempt to find a cure, Dr. Ilkow and her team are developing several oncolytic virus platforms. These oncolytic viruses are promising unique anti-cancer bioweapons, since they not only kill specifically tumour cells, but also elicit a specific and long-lasting anti-tumour immune response that protects against tumour recurrence. Before bringing these therapies to the clinic, the first step to determine the therapeutic efficacy of these viruses is to test them in mouse tumor models. In order to test new therapies, most research groups make use of mice bearing tumors under their skin, as these tumors are easy to monitor and treat. However, this does not recapitulate entirely the intricate disease in humans. Therefore, we have elaborated a surgery model that enables us to test our therapies in mice bearing human tumors in their pancreas. To conclude, this technique will hopefully enable the transition of these novel treatments from bench to bedside.

Translating science to hope: On the road to pancreatic cancer extermination


2. Luca Manzardo, Graduate student researcher, University of Padova, Padova, Italy

Research description: Mastitis is the prevalent disease in dairy herds and consists of the mammary gland inflammation, caused by bacterial infection. The milk is contaminated and must be discarded, cows must be treated with antibiotics. The reduced quality of the milk and the related economic loss caused by mastitis are affecting worldwide the dairy industries. In the US, mastitis costs almost 2 billion USD annually. During the infection, the physiological composition of the milk changes and four parameters were identified as markers for the detection. A multiparametric sensor to control those parameters is the topic of my research project. Combining the know-how of informatic engineers to chemistry and biology is the key feature of the project where each one of the parameters was studied to create a specific strategy to measure it. The sensor aims to overcome the current methods that are inaccurate or time-consuming, leading towards a faster and reliable on-site analysis of the milk. Its design was thought to be more suitable as possible for farmers. The possibility to verify directly the presence of mastitis by the farmer will permit to act at the first inflammation stages, improving milk yields and reducing the cost of mastitis.

A tool for farmers to detect mastitis


3. Maido Merisalu, Graduate student researcher, Institute of Physics, University of Tartu, Estonia

Research description: An invisible enemy has plagued mankind since time immemorial. It is a process known as corrosion, which is the degradation of materials due to the environment. However, in our rapidly evolving world the technology has become smaller, faster and more sophisticated, which means that conventional corrosion prevention techniques can often no longer be applied. In order to solve the growing problem, the researches at the Laboratory of Thin Film Technology are trying to utilize nanotechnology to synthesize ultra-thin, nearly invisible protective coatings, that can be applied on a variety of materials. One such technique is called atomic layer deposition, which allows to assemble almost any material with a desired structure and chemical composition, by assembling them one atomic layer at a time. In order to develop novel coatings based on atomic layer deposition, state of the art materials characterization techniques, such as electron microscopes, are required to investigate what happens at the atomic scale. Furthermore, in a systematic study, the actual performance of the coatings is tested with a modern climate chamber in a well-controlled corrosive environment. With the rise of nanotechnology, the struggle of mankind against corrosion, that has lasted for several millennia, may finally come to an end.

How to Fight Corrosion With Nanotechnology?


4. Taylor Mabe, Graduate student researcher, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, NC, USA

Research description: With increasing healthcare cost and a growing population that desires information faster, changes must be made in diagnostic devices to provide information rapidly in a low-cost, reliable manner. For years, diagnostic tests have been performed in central laboratories, which may take several hours to days. This is one factor resulting in low survival rates and high treatment costs. A point-of-care device could enable early diagnosis and cut cost related to shipping samples, elaborate instrumentation, and hiring employees with high expertise. Our research focuses on a portable biosensor that can be used with biological samples, like whole blood, without sample pretreatment. The experimental methods used to fabricate these devices include computer simulation to see which designs work best, then glass slides are shaped to yield substrates onto which we deposit thin films of metal. A focused beam of ions is used to mill nanostructures in the metal films. These nanostructures allow for the instrumentation to be simplified and thus yield portable sensors. A flow channel is made in a second piece of glass, which is then bonded to the nanostructured substrate. A biological element is bound to the surface, which selectively traps the molecule of interest in our sample.

A Point-of-Care Biosensor for Disease Diagnostics


5. Jackie Webb, Graduate student researcher, Southern Cross University, Lismore NSW, Australia

Research description: Ecosystems at the land-water interface, including floodplains and wetlands, are some of the most productive on earth. They store large amounts of carbon and thus function as planetary thermostats. Wetlands are sensitive to disturbances such as draining, which may drastically alter their carbon balance. This is a threat facing most wetland areas over the globe. Carbon uptake and release from floodplain landscapes move through different terrestrial and aquatic pathways. Unfortunately, disciplinary research has produced studies that do not integrate water and land process. I set out to bridge this divide. My research used a range of cutting edge techniques to quantify carbon fluxes across atmospheric, terrestrial and aquatic boundaries in a drained agricultural floodplain. Measurements included 1) net CO2 and CH4 flux between the land and atmosphere, 2) biomass accumulation, 3) groundwater carbon export 4) aquatic CO2 and CH4 emission from drains, and 5) lateral export of carbon through surface water discharge. Through capturing a wider and more comprehensive view of the carbon cycle, my research revealed new insights into the drivers of carbon retention and loss in modified wetlands. My work showed that under-investigated processes including floods and groundwater drive much of the carbon cycle in these systems.

Resolving landscape carbon fluxes – Bridging the divide between terrestrial and aquatic systems


The other five videos from our finalists are featured in the next part of this blog post.