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Pau Atienza Roca, PhD Candidate

Pau’s regenerative medicine research

Stimulating vascularization of bone in regenerative processes is the focus of Pau’s research. In tissue engineering, the formation of blood vessels is essential for achieving sizeable tissue and organ substitutes that contain living cells. Pau’s research explores the use of hydrophilic polymer-chain networks (hydrogels) as a biofabrication platform to create mechanically supportive 3D environments, as well as a mechanism for delivering cells and growth factors to the regenerative microenvironment.

Blending interdisciplinary team know-how

Pau Atienza Roca enjoying the Southern AlpsPau Atienza Roca enjoying the Southern Alps of New Zealand

Pau’s background positions him somewhere between a biologist and a material scientist, and so being a part of the Christchurch Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering (CReaTE) research group gives him the opportunity to expand his knowledge in chemistry, cell biology and biochemistry in ways that he never expected. “Being part of such a diverse group has made me see that I will always have so much to learn and that, although I would like to know and master every aspect of this field, I will always need to combine my expertise with other people’s to generate new and relevant knowledge.”

Pau enjoys support from a tight-knit group of student-researchers in the CReaTE group and is supervised by hydrogel-specialist Dr Khoon Lim and co-supervised by the group’s primary investigator Associate Professor Tim Woodfield along with Dr Yogambha Ramaswamy of the University of Sydney.

From Barcelona to the Antipodes

Pau traces his interest in science back to his school days in Barcelona. “I knew I wanted my career to be based on improving people’s lives, which helped me decide to study for a Bachelor’s in Biomedical Science.” A Master’s in Biomedical Engineering followed with a thesis in 3D printing and regenerative medicine. “I was lucky enough to find an exciting new field of research in which I could learn a lot from engineers and chemists, as well as applying my biology knowledge in a creative way.”

After completing his master’s, Pau wanted to consolidate his early research and so searched for opportunities which led him to the CReaTE group for his doctoral studies, “and so I packed to leave my hometown and took a flight to the Antipodes!”

Research aspirations

“The goal in my research career is to participate in the development of new products or strategies that end up being translated into clinical options for people”. In this respect Pau’s aspirations have not wavered from his early wish to improve people’s lives.

Pau will complete his thesis late in 2019 and he plans to quickly publish related papers soon after. In 2020 he will be reviewing his options for moving towards industry or continuing his research as a postdoctoral fellow.