Ep. 4 #Bioimpact Silicon Valley: Regenerative Medicine & Stem Cells w/ Mayasari Lim
In March 2020, covid started to spread all around the world. Despite the immense damage, it brought to our society. It also positively raised the awareness of science and technology. I personally studied chemistry for 6,5 years across four different countries, and I will never regret this because our entire life is surrounded by chemical products such as shampoo, water treatment processes up to nanomaterials that keep our walls white all year long.
One of the biggest misconceptions about scientists is that we think about someone in the lab – like he/she is in a prison. However, in some cases, science can lead to freedom. Studying one topic can lead to many industries. For instance, artificial muscle (a polymer made of silicon), can lead to tons of applications; from medicine with heart valves to entertainment with gloves, we use for VR games. Therefore, you are never stuck in one particular industry. You could potentially change your field every 5 years and focus on different topics. Plus; with a scientific background, you can do any other job in society such as being president (Angela Merkel) or a businessman; investor, communicator. But we all know it, society doesn’t have enough scientists to solve and understand the world’s biggest problems. This is why I decided myself — along with scientific communicators all around the world — to also go on a journey and share the beauty of science. How? By interviewing experts in the field. I started with a Silicon Valley serie about #biompact. Understand the big WHY of biotechnology and why we need them to change the world.
About Mayasari Lim: born in Indonesia, and raised in Singapore after the age of 5. Later on, she studied chemical engineering in Berkeley, California, worked in the Silicon Valley for about 4 years. Pursued her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering in London & worked on stem cell technologies. After that, she went to Singapore and stayed in academia for a while. She finally went back to the Silicon Valley and continued her entrepreneurial journey there. She was CEO of a bioprinting company for over 5 years! At the time of the interview; Maya was a technology evangelist at https://www.roosterbio.com/. As of today (01.2021) she is an Associate Director at FUJIFILM Irvine Scientific.
Interview conducted in mid-2020 – In San Francisco. JUMP TO THE SECTION OF YOUR INTEREST
(0:10) Introduction why this interview/speaker.
(1:52) Question n*1: what motivated you to pursue science and / or biotechnology?
Maya decided to pursue science because she had an amazing math teacher that was also her mentor. She loved math, and this sparked her interest in data and numbers. That’s why she started studying chemical engineering.
(4:25) Question n*2 What is the problem you are trying to solve with Rooster Bio Inc. What is regenerative medicine?
First, what is regenerative medicine? It is about using stem cells to regenerate the body. It can be the cells themselves, or it can be a tissue engineering approach: combining the cells with some kind of scaffold to replace a bone or cartilage.
Rooster bio provides the cells, MSCs, also called adult stem cells (derived from healthy donors). The cells come from the bone marrow, umbilical cord, or adipose tissue. Stem cells are scared of resources. Isolation of own material is necessary, isolation of the cells manually. It is a labor-intensive process, this is why it is hard to get consistent results.
>> Rooster Bio is trying to make this cell accessible for researchers or companies trying to make new MSCs therapies. <<
(8:14) Question n*3: when did this research start to be commercialized? When did it go out of the academic lab?
Frist MSC therapy late 90s. Early in 2020, clinical trials started to take off.
(9:30) Question n*4: What is a big problem in society today that biotechnology can solve?
“ CRISPR is the most fascinating and growing field in biotech “
It cures diseases such as cancer and can also be used to address issues in climate change such as producing a more resistant crop that will be less reliable on carbon-based fertilizer.
Additionally, she believes gene and cell therapies will be able to treat cancer and more diseases. Just recently; an MSC-based therapy was able to help patients to reduce inflammation in the lung created by covid. No other therapy could treat the problem.
(13:58) Question n*5: People can be scared of biotech. What do you tell them so they trust science?
Maya mentioned they there were always bad actors (Example: CRISPR Baby). But as a society, we have to make sure bad things are not happening. For this; we first have to respect each other and to trust each other. Researchers; scientists have the responsibility to act morally and ethically. Of course, regulations play an important role.
(17:05) Question n*6 How do you see scientific communication before and after this pandemic? How can we improve it moving forward?
Difficult for us to control what people want or have to say. A lot of interactions have changed because of the pandemic. The pandemic has given us the opportunity to engage differently; many more webinars, virtual interviews, and podcasts have become more and more important. Everyone has to be more critical of what we see on social media.
The way to do this is to ask people WE KNOW that are scientists (friends, family, extended network).
If you don’t know if this is true or not; ask questions.
The key is to NOT BEING AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS.
(20:40) Question n*7: We want people to innovate and impact the world. But because it’s seems so far away. We often give up? What do you tell to these people to start anyway and keep going?
Starting something is always Is a good thing. It doesn’t matter if it is a small or big vision. Everyone can have an impact. When you start the process; that’s how you go for a bigger goal. The journey is the most important thing; take one step at a time; with the best step every time. Have some faith and trust in yourself will help you to go to your final goal.
Next interview: the importance of the ecosystem and collaboration.
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