Five years ago, we started participating in the Bojos per la Ciència program, an initiative aimed for first-year high school students with a scientific vocation interested in STEM careers. Organized by the Fundació Catalunya La Pedrera with the aim of promoting scientific vocations and educational excellence among young people in Catalonia, the IBEC’s Bojos i Boges per la Bioenginyeria program offers students the opportunity to discover the multidisciplinary environment of bioengineering, where different disciplines converge to solve problems related to health.
Throughout the five editions, this program has allowed more than 120 students to access the IBEC laboratories to participate in a multidisciplinary program focused on research in bioengineering. Each year, during 15 Saturdays, students have been able to learn about the main areas of bioengineering applied to health, deepening their research on diseases related to population aging, cancer research, and rare diseases.
On November 25th, we celebrated five years of the Bojos i Boges per la Bioenginyeria program with an emotional event that brought together more than 90 people, including all the students of the 2022 promotion, students from previous promotions, family members, and researchers participating in the program.
The opening of the event was led by Prof. Josep Samitier, director of IBEC, who thanked the enthusiasm shown by the students year after year, and also to the families, who have been key in allowing their children to participate in the program.
The event also featured students from different promotions, such as Carla Nicolau, from the first promotion of Bojos i Boges per la Bioenginyeria. She started her speech with “Mummy, when I grow up I want to wear a white lab coat” and explained how a little girl’s dream is about to come true, in part, thanks to the program.
Carla highlighted how she was filled with happiness, hope, and pride upon discovering that “here, in our own home, pioneering research projects are being carried out in the world” and how she realized “the fortune we have of living in a territory with research centers, hospitals, and other leading research institutions, with researchers as prepared and competent as those I met during the program”. Currently studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Barcelona, Carla highlighted the importance of figures such as Dr. Xavier Trepat, with whom she had the opportunity to complete the Research Work, Dr. Pere Roca-Cusachs, a professor during her career, and Prof. Daniel Navajas, former head of studies for her degree. According to her, “being able to enjoy so closely with eminences and international references ignites the spark of believing that everything is possible and inspires wanting to follow the path of these exemplary models. ”
Filotea Crasovan, a student from the 2019 promotion, also participated in the event. She explained how, while studying Medicine, she returned to IBEC with a research scholarship at the laboratory of Prof. Samuel Sánchez, a laboratory where she had already done a research stay with Rafael Mestre, then a PhD student in the group and currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Southampton. According to Filotea, “having a trusted investigator, who is not only your mentor but also becomes your friend, can be a turning point in your career and can make a difference when deciding whether or not to pursue a scientific career. In my case, this person was Rafael Mestre.
“Who, at our age, would voluntarily get up on a Saturday morning to “do science”? Well, “doing science” with all of you has been a fantastic, passionate, very enriching and, personally, revealing experience. We would not change these Saturdays for anything and we would continue coming if it were possible.” This is how the students of this edition, Sofia Acarregui and Shiyao Chen, have expressed it.
The event ended with the graduation ceremony for the current class of students, as well as a poster session featuring a collection of ideas for biomedical engineering research from the 2022 cohort.
We would like to thank everyone who has made this program possible; to the students for your enthusiasm and to the scientists in the laboratories for your commitment in each edition. Thank you all very much!