This spring, researchers of the BiSC project have participated in activities to disseminate the project in schools. Neus Rosell and Pol Jiménez visited Escola Pia-Balmes in Barcelona, to talk to the children about the effects of air pollution on our health. They explained the origins of this type of pollution today (gases and particles from road traffic, maritime traffic, heating – often invisible), its composition, the different instruments with which it is measured, and the multiple organs of the human body that it affects in the short and long term. They also showed that pollution most significantly affects pregnant women (and fetuses), babies, children and the elderly, causing more deaths globally than smoking or infectious diseases such as tuberculosis or malaria. Finally, they wanted to convey that this is an avoidable mortality and that reducing the number of vehicles, improving public transport, and increasing the presence of green spaces are effective measures to make cities healthier.
On the other hand, Marta Cosín visited students of the clinical and biomedical laboratory training cycle at Les Vinyes high school, in Santa Coloma de Gramenet. The researcher spoke about the role of placenta in the impact of environmental exposures during pregnancy (intrauterine exposures) on fetal, infant and adult health. Specifically, she explained that, in the BiSC project, we are studying epigenetic modifications of the placenta (DNA methylation and expression of microRNAs) as possible biological mechanisms that explain this association between prenatal environment and health. As the talk was given to students of Molecular Biology and Cytogenetics, the methodology followed to quantify these epigenetic marks (biopsy of placental tissue, RNA and DNA purification, preparation of cDNA libraries and subsequent sequencing, and detection of DNA methylation patterns previously treated with bisulfite with EPIC arrays) was also detailed. Finally, the preliminary results of the BiSC project were presented, with the prospect of presenting conclusive results in the short and medium term. On the other hand, the students presented in a congress format the most relevant methodologies used in this type of studies.
Scientific dissemination activities such as these are very important to publicize the project, to raise awareness about public health issues such as exposure to air pollution (especially in vulnerable periods such as the perinatal stage and childhood), and to contribute to the return to society of knowledge gained from research in the short and medium term.
This text has been written by Marta Cosín, researcher in the BiSC project.