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The LCSB opened its doors to the public!

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Publié le mardi 26 mars 2019

On 23  March 2019, the University of Luxembourg invited the public to its Open Day. Future students, parents and the general public could discover the university’s study programmes, the interdisciplinary centres and their research, meet other students and teachers and visit the several facilities of Campus Belval.

On the occasion of its 10th anniversary, the Luxembourg Center for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) invited interested visitors to also have a look behind the scenes of biomedical research. During four guided tours through the LCSB labs, the 44 guests could discover how researchers from different disciplines (biology, medicine, informatics, mathematics, physics, engineering, etc.) work together to better understand the mechanisms underlying diseases and develop new avenues for disease prevention, diagnosis and therapy.

With Parkinson’s research being the major research focus of the centre, the guided tours explained how researcher set out to better understand the causes of this neurodegenerative disease. PhD students Lisa Smits and Axel Chemla showed how turning skin cells donated by patients or healthy individuals from the Luxembourg Parkinson’s Study (NCER-PD) in the laboratory into the dopamine -producing nerve cells allows studying the effects of the disease on this particular type of cells that age faster in Parkinson’s disease. In a room packed with high-tech equipement, the two young researchers showed some beautiful microscopy pictures of stained cells and passed around samples of brain organoids, small 3D cell cultures developed at the LCSB.


In addition, visitors had the chance to learn how the plethora of microbes that live inside the human gut influence health and disease. Researchers from the Eco-Systems Biology group showed how a combination of HuMiX, a microfluidic gut model, and the latest robotics and high-throughput technologies can be used to study the human-microbe interaction. The group applies their expertise on the human microbiome to a wide range of diseases. For instance, PhD student Kristopher Schmit explained how he investigates the role of the microbiome in the initiation of Parkinson’s disease. Toxins secreted by certain types of bacteria might trigger misfolding of the proteins alpha-synuclein, which could then spread from the gut to the brain and lead to Parkinson’s disease. Catherine Sedrani, PhD student in the same team, gave a demonstration of HuMiX, giving the visitors the opportunity to touch the different layers forming this artificial gut model. The groups also had a closer look at several tools used by the researchers and the youngest visitor even got to try his hand at pipetting!

Besides the guided tours, visitors had the chance to ask their questions about study programs, internships or job opportunities and participation as volunteers in LCSB’s many research projects at the two LCSB booths in the Luxembourg Learning Center and the Maison du Savoir. They could also take home one of the LCSB very popular goodies: a brain-shaped eraser... perfect to motivate the new students!