Research in rhyme wins Famelab people’s choice award

Research in rhyme wins Famelab people’s choice award
Research in rhyme wins Famelab people’s choice award

ANU Engineering student Kiara Bruggeman has won the people’s choice prize at the Famelab Australia science communications awards by presenting her research in rhyme.

Ms Bruggeman, a third year PhD student, works in tissue engineering in the ANU Laboratory of Advanced Biomaterials where researchers are working to help damaged brains recover to a healthy state. Ms Bruggeman said using rhyme in one of the world’s leading science communications competitions made sure she was conveying her research to a non-technical audience. “It’s really hard to rhyme scientific jargon,” she said. As one of 12 finalists, Ms Bruggeman said the challenge was condensing into three minutes her research on drug delivery to the brain. “My PhD is focused on incorporating drug delivery into those tissue engineering materials,” she said. “There are a lot of specific issues to do with drug delivery to your brain because your brain has a lot of defences against letting drugs into it.” This competition followed on from Ms Bruggeman’s win in the College of Engineering and Computer Science 3-Minute Thesis Competition last year.


Would you let me put drugs in your brain?

I just want to make it healthy again

I’m thinking of brains

After injury or strokeI want to give them drugs

To help those poor folks

Most drugs are quite plain

By needle or by pill

They get into your veins

And find what makes you ill

We can target your liver

We can target your heart

But it gets a bit different

When it comes to your smarts

Your brain is important

And very well protected

So drugs from the blood stream

Just get rejected

Between your blood and your brain

There’s a barrier maintained

And all it seems to do is complain

This molecule’s too big

Or too watery

Or just different at all

It only likes things recognisable, and small

We could also try

A direct injection

Getting drugs right into

The damaged section

But those drugs won’t last long

They’ll be gone in a day

And daily brain stabbing

Won’t keep the doctor away

Every injection

Is a new damaged section

With more brain to heal

And more chance of infection

But my mum always said

There’s more to life than drugs

So let me explain

How we’re solving it with hugs

New and healing brain cells

Need structural support

So we’re using sturdy gels

As a base for drug transport

It needs to be positioned

Right at the damage in the brain

And the gel is far too large

To travel through your veins

So we absolutely need

At least one injection

To get the structured gel

Into the damaged section

And if it has to happen

Well then we might as well

Use that one injection

To deliver drugs as well

Inside the structured gel

Are supportive nano sticks

And they get interesting

When we add drugs to the mix

On a molecular level

The sticks are quite sticky

They hold drugs in place

So they don’t deplete so quickly

The drugs are always there

Protected in the gel

And a little at a time

They diffuse out to the cells

So far I’ve managed

Using this technique

To stretch out that one day

All the way to six weeks

So now I have to say

That I’m feeling quite clever

I’ll put lots of drugs in your brain

And they’ll all be there forever

But wait

That’s not right

That just wouldn’t work

If we got all the drugs at once

Our brains would go berserk

Drugs give cells instructions

They tell them what to do

But timing is important

Step one, and then step two

First grow the new brain tissue

Then connect it to your veins

But we have just the one injection

As I’ve already explained

So how to control the timing?

By attaching molecular chains

Now one single injection

Carries all the drugs together

But only some disperse initially

While those with chains are tethered

The molecular chains

Hug the sticks in the gel

Keeping those drugs stuck

Held in place for a spell

They stay for four hours

Locked in that embrace

Before untangling enough

To move around the place

So now we can deliver

The right drug at the right time

Without multiple injections

And we’ve done it all in rhyme

It seems we have things sorted

Just one point remains

Now would you all let me

Put drugs into your brains?

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