Fulden Candar will use her expertise in material science and biochemistry to investigate effects of polymer fibre fragments on human cells in advanced in-vitro models. Here she tells about what motivates her work in the project A2: Polymer Fibre Tox:
Dear Fulden, what is your professional background?
I graduated with a BSc degree of Bioengineering from Yildiz Technical University in Istanbul. During my university education, I worked in Biochemistry and Microbiology Departments of Marmara Medicine Faculty as a laboratory intern. I conducted laboratory experiments, performed tests and analyzed results for diagnosis.
Following my undergraduate studies, I worked as a laboratory intern at the Max Planck Institute Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam. Here, I conducted research on the effects of different proteins on trehalose metabolism in Arabidopsis thaliana, a model organism used in plant genetics research.
Continuing my academic journey, I pursued a Master’s degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics & Biotechnology at Istanbul Technical University. During my studies, I conducted research in the field of tissue engineering. Specifically, I evaluated the effects of a natural biopolymer, silk fibroin, as a coating material for electrospun nanofibers.
What will be your task in the project?
My primary objective in the polymer fibre tox case study entailes investigating the possible modes of action of synthetic fibers and their additives in human cells. Given their extensive usage across various technologies, it is crucial to examine the potential health implications of these materials during their life cycle. While the studies are limited, it has been demonstrated that the small size and shape of fragmented synthetic fibres fosters their inhalation and ingestion, which may cause adverse health effects. Such risks have raised concerns among medical professionals, researchers, and the general public alike. In this project, I want to prepare a series of fiber fragments with well-defined properties and systematically investigate their effects on advanced in-vitro tissue models. My aspiration is that the outcomes of my research project will establish a robust and comprehensive platform for the investigation of fibre toxicity, which will contribute significantly to the field of material science and public health.
What made you decide to contribute to this particular project?
Firstly, I am passionate about researching the impact of materials on human health and well-being, and this project offers a unique opportunity to explore the potential mechanisms caused by synthetic fibres and their additives.
Secondly, there is a growing body of evidence indicating that the fragmentation of synthetic fibres into micro- and nano-particulates is a major contributor to environmental pollution, and there is still much to learn about the impact of these materials on human health. As such, I see this research as a valuable opportunity to gain new insights into this complex issue and to help develop strategies to mitigate its impact.
Lastly, the interdisciplinary nature of this project, which combines materials science, environmental science, and toxicology, offered a unique opportunity to collaborate with experts from different fields and contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of this issue.
Where do you see the biggest challenge?
The project’s most significant obstacle lies in the intricate nature of the issue at hand. While attempting to simulate processes such as inhalation, which involve various tissues with distinct functions, achieving complete accuracy is difficult. Nevertheless, the findings that arise from our research will be instrumental in enhancing our comprehension of the matter.
Additionally, the fragmentation of the mentioned materials can occur through a variety of pathways, making it difficult to study their effects comprehensively. As we aim to explore the potential effects caused by synthetic fibers, it is important to draw upon expertise from a range of fields, including molecular biology, toxicology, environmental science and materials science. Building effective collaborations across these disciplines will be essential for making progress towards our goals.
How do you deal with the fact that you will be working at several institutes and that several research institutes are involved in your project?
While working with multiple institutes and research organizations may pose some challenges in terms of coordinating experiments and data sharing, it also offers a plethora of benefits.
By collaborating with experts from diverse fields, I will have access to a wider range of facilities, equipment, and knowledge, which are critical for conducting high-quality experiments and generating meaningful results.
Moreover, working alongside colleagues with varied experiences and perspectives will provide an excellent opportunity to learn from them, broaden my knowledge, and advance my research skills. I look forward to exchanging ideas and sharing insights with experts from different backgrounds, fostering a dynamic and enriching collaborative environment. Overall, I see working with multiple institutes as a valuable opportunity to expand my research horizons and gain a richer understanding of the complex issues at the intersection of medical and biomaterials research.
Thank you Fulden and welcome to the research alliance! We are looking forward to working with you.