Summer Student Jodie Evans
Supervised by Dr Paul Roach at Loughborough University, Jodie Evans is developing microfluidic neuronal cell circuits from computer-aided design through to 3D printing to help replace tests on mice and monkeys.
With a rapidly aging population, our society has ever increasing problems with neurological diseases such as Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease. Live animals are sadly often used to study these diseases because advanced models of the central nervous system are challenging to create in vitro, due to their complex nature.
However, Jodie used computer-aided design and tools borrowed from the microelectronics industry to develop a way to study nerve cells in vitro. In her summer research project, she created microfluidic cell-circuits and then grew neurons in them – using a video microscope to gain real-time evaluation of their growth. The method and model she developed will help enable further research into neurological diseases without the need to harm animals.
I hate the idea of innocent animals being used and mistreated for human gain as I know that there are plenty of other methods to avoid involving animals in research. I have started my research career the correct way with this research project.
I believe that if we get the new generation of scientists in the right mind set, to not use animals in research, this will lead to a better future. Certainly within the context of my medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry degree, these issues are very relevant for my future career.