Pint of Science – Regenerating Organs in the Lab


On Wednesday 20th May, Dr Nick Evans, lecturer in bioengineering, along with John Cousins, CEO of isodo3d and Peter Birkett from University of Southampton Science Park, will be at The Juniper Berry talking about engineering solutions for replacing diseased or damaged tissue and organs.

Dr Nick Evans works in regenerative medicine, which looks both at stimulating tissues to repair themselves, and at creating new tissue to implant. There exists a wide range of diseases that wear out tissue, causing it to become scarred or dysfunctional, from arthritis, to liver cirrhosis, to various forms of atrohpy. Nick’s research looks particularly at how cells in the body interact with biomaterials being introduced, how the body tells cells to behave, for smoother integration of new tissue into the body. He also looks at different types of materials that could be used for growing tissue on in the lab, to then be implanted into the body, as well as regenerative drugs, as Nick explains “Certain chemicals are able to influence stem cells to create a desired type of cell, and we try to control the path of a stem cell to becoming another type tissue.” He describes it in terms of a kind of Stem Cell Pinball, a pet outreach project of colleague Dr Jonathan Dawson.

stem cell pinball
Stem Cell Pinball being toured with Soton Roadshow

Nick got into the field during his PhD in diabetes, in which he ended up doing work in stem cells, and since 2005 has worked in stem cells and biomaterials, in London, America, and now Southampton. He works at Southampton General Hospital most days, with some time on campus, and spends his time chatting to students about results and new experiments, organising meetings, writing journal articles and grants, with some time also spent in lectures and tutorials with undergraduate students, both in biomedical sciences and engineering. He enjoys the fact that his work is “different every day, and you get to work with clever colleagues and students, discussing new things in biology that are both interesting in themselves but also useful to someone in the future”

John Cousins is the founder and Managing Director of isodo3d, a 3D printing company based at Southampton Science Park. A salesman by background, he has an interest in technology, having previously worked in the telecommunications sector, and now in 3D printing. His company produces prints for medical purposes, but also for a whole range of needs and designs, from fashion and art to educational purposes. The website lists people who might want to use isodo3d services as including “Artists exploring new media and materials, parents and children wanting to learn CAD, hobbyists making pieces for models and inventors building special parts for prototypes and electronics for control systems”.

Whilst presenting to orthpaedic surgeons in Bristol in November, John became suddenly ill and collapsed with appendicitis, and a kidney stone. When 3D CT scans came back, John asked to use them and printed a model of his own kidney, complete with kidney stone, for the surgeons to use to aid the operation, which cut down the operation time by half an hour, reducing blood loss and exposure. Amazingly, the model cost just £123 to print. John realised that this could significantly help surgeons during the preparation and procedure, as well as reducing costs by cutting procedure times. John explained “We want 3D printing to be available for everybody, not just for the few”

kidney scan
John’s kidney scan…
...and the 3D printout of it
…and the 3D printout of it






Nick and John will also be joined by Peter Birkett, CEO of University of Southampton Science Park, talking about the aims and focuses of the business campus, which looks to create a supportive environment for science and technology businesses and start-ups. You can meet all of them in person by booking tickets at and heading to the Juniper Berry on Wednesday 20th May. Cheers!

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  3. Pint of Science – The Immune System and The Brain
  4. Pint of Science – Particles Go Quantum
  5. Pint of Science – Regenerating Organs in the Lab
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Physics student and regular freelance science communicator, shooting for the stars. I'm your Science Editor and with the help of a team of talented writers, strive to bring you the most interesting and relevant science stories.

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