Meet the Researchers: Maria – Post Doc @ Imperial College

My name is Maria and I am one of the lucky people that has the privilege to play with the cells (and sometimes the mucus) in your nose. I culture the nasal epithelial cells in the lab so that we can study the state of the cells and their ability to respond to particles and pathogens. I had the chance to culture human cells during my PhD studies, but never cells as precious as those in this project: you are a special little lad or lady and so your cells are precious to me. To take care of this unique sample means that I have to feed them constantly and check on them every day to see if they like their new home, if they are growing or if they need more space. I often sing to them. I still don’t have any scientific proof that indicates its beneficial effects, but I will not stop doing it, just in case!

Maintaining these cells requires constant love and devotion, if you have ever tried to keep a plant alive you will agree with me that love is essential. I love to work on this project because I feel like I get to know a lot about you, even though I will never know your name, and plus together we might help all the other kids in world whose breath has been taken away by asthma.

Here is me collecting cells from the little nasal brushes so that they can ‘grow’ (they don’t actually grow bigger, they just duplicate into more of each other, the number of cells can double in just a day’s time):


And this is what the cells look like through a microscope once they start to divide into more cells: