A Deep Dive into Stem Cell Research on UniStem Day at IMBA

With a unique hybrid program, IMBA opened its doors to the next generation of scientists, offering an in-depth exploration of embryonic stem cells, organoid preparation, and the ethical dimensions of medical research.


For UniStem Day, IMBA welcomed over 700 school-aged learners (including 60 on campus). The students joined a hybrid program featuring lectures, discussions, lab experiments, and a Bioethics Commission reenactment that offered practical and theoretical insights into the power and ethical considerations of stem cell research.

A kick-off lecture by molecular biologists in the Rivron group introduced students to the fundamentals of embryonic stem cells and how they are used in medical research. A series of activities led by the Vienna Open Lab, Open Science, and IMBA developed these ideas further.

At the Vienna Open Lab, visitors learned how and under what conditions stem cells are cultivated. Meanwhile, lab tours led by researchers from the Knoblich, Mendjan, Rivron, and Urbán groups at IMBA, explored advanced stem cell models. Participants examined brain and heart organoids, blastoids modeling the very early embryo, and adult neural stem cells. Students examined tissue cultures under the microscope and took practical steps in the lab to prepare organoids from stem cells. Activities included microscopy of tissue cultures, and, in some instances, applying protocols for generating embryoid bodies and stem cells.

At the Stem Cell Core Facility, the program looked at laboratory techniques used with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to convert blood cells into a type of stem cell that can develop into many different types of cells in the body.

An ethics discussion led by IMBA's Ethics and Biosafety and Open Science teams explored the possibilities and limits of stem cell research, with participants taking on various roles to debate the ethical considerations of this field.


UniStem Day in Pictures