EVs and Cell Biology

Dr. Sarah Stewart is a fundamental cell biologist currently at the University of Cambridge. She has an interest in extracellular vesicles especially in how they are made and how they transfer their message into recipient cells, and what is important for cargo delivering into cells. Dr Stewart and her research team is trying to find out which proteins are involved in that process and whether or not these processes can be manipulated.

Do you think EV research has grown over the last decade?

Sarah Stewart: It is absolutely a growing field and I think it is growing exponentially.  I think a lot of other really important research recognising that EVs might be a really important for one of their studying so not just in a cell biology level but also in disease state and other area so absolutely is growing exponentially.

As it is growing, do you feel that there is a sense of community among EV researchers?

Sarah Stewart: Yes definitely, I think the community that are studying extracellular vesicles are really great so I think the UK EV is amazing, the community that they are establishing here is really amazing. Also I have just recently go to a conference in Australia and the EV meeting is such a good community and it is such a great space to show  your research out there and get some feedback.

With the progress that EV research has made, do you think EVs can change the world?

Sarah Stewart: Yes.  I mean there is a lot of potential with extracellular vesicles so certainly lot of potential in using them for biomarkers or diagnostics, whether or not we can also use them for therapeutic so a lot of potential there. But I think there is also a lot we do not know about just what they do on a fundamental level so what are they doing in our body not in the disease state and not using them as biomarkers and I think we can learn a lot about just normal biological processes looking at EVs.

Do you think is important for the public to know what goes on in EVs research or in scientific research in general?

Sarah Stewart: Definitely I think it is a really important for the public to know what the money goes towards, what the government funding, what research we are doing, because ultimately that is where the funding coming from and they should absolutely be made aware that where the money is going and what it is doing so allowing to use this kind of forum to actually get our research out there is the public domain is really important.  And I think the public really enjoy learning about all these fun processes that happen in the body.

In your own words, how would you describe EV to someone who never heard about EV before?

Sarah Stewart: I suppose I would describe EVs as a telegram that one tissue can send to another tissue in the body and that tissue will take that message and that would affect what that tissue did.

When do you first heard about EVs?

Sarah Stewart: I actually remember when I first heard about EVs and it was doing my Phd so I think it will be somewhere around 2013.  I remember hearing an oral presentation of some of them describing extracellular vesicles and i just thought wow this things are so cool, they are so complex, they are really novel and I just thought the possibilities of that kind of messages that they could sent and where they could do and what they could do was really so boundless so I remember I really interested in them.  I did not work on them for years and years after that is not until very recently but I definitely remember I first heard about them.

From the talk that you had today, is there anything you found particularly fascinating? Any recent research that you have read about that you found interest?

Sarah Stewart: I guess there have been a lot that has fascinated me from the talks today.  I think that there is some really interesting about the effects of EVs especially in disease and I think that if we could take that knowledge and look at that more fundamental cell biology way we can learn a lot.  So hearing all the different EV research we can just see whether people can collaborate and really build on each other.

If I gave you a billion pound, what kind of research would you spend it on?

Sarah Stewart: Obviously I would have an enormous team so hand would not be a problem and I think I am definitely still doing the research that I am doing currently.  A billion pounds will definitely help in terms of having more people to do the research because I am sort of in this area now where I am in my fellowship and it is really just me the only hands in the lab sort of doing the research so I will still investigate biogenesis and EV cargo delivery on a fundamental cell biology level because I will say that until we fully understand those processes we cannot really use EVs to evoke advantage or understand how they are working in disease state either.

How do you think we can get the public more involved in science?

Sarah Stewart: I think there are some really good outreach things that are already organised like Pint of Science that kind of thing.  I think just getting researchers to talk about their research in a really informal settings possibly will be a really good way of engaging the public.  It is really tricky because it also depends on who you want to engage and you cannot force people to engage so I think what we can do is really to open the door to opportunity whoever want to come and hear about what we do.

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