Monash University

Dr Frith’s research aims to understand how biomaterial signals are sensed by cells and how this tells them what tissue to form. To engineer a tissue, stem cells must be combined with a biomaterial which act as ‘bricks and mortar’ to form the tissue. Stem cells can turn into multiple tissue types, such as bone, fat or cartilage. This is guided by signals from the biomaterial, such as stiffness or texture so it is essential to provide the correct signals from a biomaterial if we are to coax cells to turn into the desired tissue type and engineer high-quality new tissue. This knowledge will be essential to inform the future design of biomaterials that have just the right properties to instruct cells to form our desired tissue and help us realise the dream of tissue-engineering.

Through the Scientists-in-Schools scheme, Jess worked with a year 6 class, running experiments and activities to introduce them to topics such as bacterial growth and tissue-engineering. She has also given numerous talks, tours and demonstrations to high-school groups about the promise and challenges of tissue-engineering and regenerative medicine.  She was the Secretary for the Biotech Committee of Women in Technology (WiT) where she organised events for networking and professional development.