University News

‘TED-ish’ talks discuss bio lab projects

By
Contributing Writer
Thursday, October 4, 2012

Associate Professor of Biology Richard Freiman and Assistant Professor of Biology Eric Darling spoke at the first “TED-ish” talk Wednesday.

 

The biology department held the first of its “TED-ish” talks Wednesday, as a group of professors helped “get the word out” about the revolutionary projects taking place in the University’s biology labs, said Marjorie Thompson ’74 PhD’79 P’02 P’07 P’09 P’12 P’14 P’16, associate dean of biological sciences. 

Though not affiliated with TED, the talks  use a similar format to promote undergraduate excitement for the study of biology on campus. On Wednesday, the topic was stem cells. Associate Professor of Biology Richard Freiman began with an explanation of the different types of stem cells ­and where they can be found in the body – anywhere from your kneecap to your face. 

Freiman took the audience through the whole history of stem cell research, from the first cloned frog to Dolly, the first cloned sheep, to modern-day attempts to grow human organs. In 2007, Kyoto University Professor Shinya Yamanaka discovered a method to turn any cell into a pluripotent stem cell, making it possible to inject cheek cells into another area of the body, where they will differentiate.  

Assistant Professor of Biology Eric Darling spoke next on the course of his current stem-cell research at Brown. Darling is using “cell-poking” techniques to tell the difference between variations of stem cells. He gets his stem cells from the fat waste of liposuction treatments, a particularly rich source of the cells, he said. 

“We have a lot of fat in this country. Who wouldn’t want to come in, get a little liposuction, and get your knee fixed? Two-fer!” Darling said. 

The department is planning additional “TED-ish” talks throughout the semester.