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Stem cells are sentient and responsive, making decisions about their role and involvement in development, repair and regeneration.
Stem Cell Stories began life in the mesoderm of a King’s College London forum partnering academics from the Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences with creatives. Professor Abigail Tucker and Rupali Lav have dedicated their lives to the exploration of everything stem cells can do. Hayden Cohen has dedicated his life to making up stories using poetry, music and comedy. Like stem cells signalling each other, they recognised this complementary practice and the idea of Stem Cell Stories was fertilised, ready to gestate.
The concept is simple: to create a performance poem supported by music and a motion graphic video all from the perspective of a stem cell, and use that video to drive engagement in a stem cell-themed performance poetry workshop targeted at Faculty staff and students. You can see participants in the poetry workshop read the poems they wrote in a film on the Project films tab, alongside the final Stem Cell Story animation.
Stem Cell Stories was a project as part of the Arts in Dentistry Innovation Programme. The project was a collaboration between King's College London's Centre for Craniofacial and Regenerative Biology and Hayden Cohen. It was supported by the university's Culture team.
Professor Abigail Tucker - joint academic leadProfessor Abigail Tucker’s laboratory is an enriched niche of new ideas about stem cells and development of craniofacial organs like the ears, salivary glands and teeth. Since its inception in 2002, her lab has signalled over a hundred research papers in reputed journals and is currently funded by the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council and Action on Hearing Loss. The Tucker lab enthusiastically participates in widespread science communication ‘priming’ many curious minds through school visits, festival stands, participation in documentaries, and through collaboration with artists.
Dr Rupali Lav - joint academic leadRupali Lav is a doctoral candidate undergoing ‘lineage priming’ at the Tucker laboratory. She is a dentist from Bangalore who embarked on a path seeking the ideal niche to specialise in craniofacial development and regenerative dentistry which led her to the Tucker Laboratory at King’s College London. Her current research is on the role of stem cells in the development and regeneration of the tooth root. Aside from studying these stem cells, she also enjoys communicating stem cell science through outreach activities.
Hayden Cohen - artistic leadHayden Cohen is a Yorkshire born and bred performance poet, videographer, musician and comedian. He’s taken three one-man shows to the Edinburgh Fringe including 2012’s Age of the Geek which won Shortlist Magazine’s Pick of the Fringe. He has also created a series of works for the Mouthy Season at Science Gallery London.
A stem cell-themed performance poetry workshop open to under-grad students in the Faculty took place in December 2017. The film of this session can be found under the 'Project films' tab above.
Stem Cell Stories featured in the Heads up! exhibition in the Arcade at Bush House, 2 – 13 December 2019. The exhibition was the culmination of the Arts in Dentistry Innovation Programme and aimed to showcase how art-science collaborations can illuminate the lived experience of patients and clinicians, bring new perspectives to researchers, and offer innovative approaches to student education.
Hayden also performed 'Stem Cell Story' live at a Student Late event on 9 December as part of the exhibition programme. Watch the film on the 'Project films' tab above.
Stem Cell Stories exhibition video
Stem Cell Story
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