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  2. Dec 4, 2023

Physicians Committee and InSphero Announce Winners of HUMAIN Award

Award Recognizes Efforts to Develop Human-Specific Cell Models for Research and Development

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit that advances human-based science, and InSphero, the global leader in 3D in vitro technology for drug safety and efficacy testing, are pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 Human Advanced In Vitro Model Initiative (HUMAIN) Award. The HUMAIN Award recognizes researchers working to expand access to and accelerate the uptake of human-specific nonanimal approaches.

The five awardees of the HUMAIN Initiative are:

Dr. Burak Toprakhisar, Postdoctoral Researcher, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

Project Title: Revealing the early cellular events in human liver inflammation by using HiPSC

This project aims to explore the initiation and progression of liver disease in a human stem cell-derived liver coculture model by revealing cellular stress activation pathways in real-time.

Dr. Felicia Gerst, Senior Scientist, University of Tübingen, Germany

Project Title: Impact of pancreatic adipose tissue on islet function

This project aims to better understand how ectopic fat impacts islet function (i.e., the regulation of metabolism and glucose control) and how pancreatic adipose tissues (ectopic fat) contribute to the onset of obesity-related type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Gabriela Kania, Principal Investigator, University Hospital of Zürich, Switzerland

Project Title: Exploring liver effects in a multi-organ-on-a-chip model of cardiac fibrosis across diverse experimental scenarios

This project aims to advance understanding of cardiac fibrosis, a condition that causes scar tissue to build up in the heart, and how the condition plays a role in liver function. The project will use a multi-organ-on-a-chip model of cardiac fibrosis to evaluate the impact on liver tissues under various experimental conditions and treatments.

Dr. Karina Orlowska, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Michigan State University, United States

Project Title: Development of chemical safety screening by high-throughput sequencing

This project will develop a human-relevant scalable workflow for the mechanistic explanation and safety assessment of chemicals and drugs using high-throughput screening. This approach has the potential to provide a comprehensive view of cellular responses within a complex tissue-like context that would accelerate breakthroughs in disease modeling, drug development, and safety assessments.

Dr. Ute Wölfle, Principal Investigator and Senior Scientist, University of Freiburg, Germany

Project Title: Influencing the interaction of fatty liver spheroids and psoriasis keratinocytes by liver-protecting herbal remedies

This project aims to investigate whether liver-protecting therapeutics can reduce fatty liver inflammation as well as psoriasis inflammation. This study serves as a starting point to find the most promising herbal liver-protecting compounds that could be used in a later clinical trial to investigate how psoriasis and fatty liver-associated inflammation interact.

The five winning laboratories will receive:

Within the HUMAIN Initiative, the Physicians Committee and InSphero will support the researchers in their project execution and presentation of scientific findings. The awardees will attend an onsite session at InSphero’s premises in Switzerland, where the 3D cell culture experts will lead a comprehensive hands-on training with the proprietary scalable and reproducible 3D in vitro tools for drug discovery research.

To speak with Janine McCarthy, science policy program manager for the Physicians Committee, about the award, please contact Reina Pohl at 202-527-7326 or rpohl [at] (rpohl[at]pcrm[dot]org).

Media Contact

Reina Pohl, MPH



Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.

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