During last May, Theano Tsikari and Lito Papamichail traveled to Ispra in Italy to attend the 4th edition of JRC Summer School on Non-animal Approaches in Science: Towards Sustainable Innovation. This bi-annual initiative organized by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and it’s EU Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL-ECVAM), manages to bring together students and young scientists with a strong interest in non-animal alternatives in science. Both Theano and Lito were excited to join this multidisciplinary summer school experience thanks to the travel award (€ 500,-) provided by EUROoCS.
The two early-stage researchers have recently started their PhD journey in the field of organ-on-chip technology. More specifically, Lito is a member of the groups of Martin Hoogduijn and Luc van der Laan in Erasmus MC, focusing on the development of a multi-organ-on-a-chip system to study transplantation related insults, as part of the Convergence Flagship Organ Transplantation initiative. Theano is part of the Orlova group in LUMC and the LymphChip consortium, working on the development of an immunocompetent heart-on-chip that integrates tissue resident macrophages and lymphatic vasculature.
The programme consisted of three and a half days full of lectures, round tables, flash and poster presentations where the participants had the unique opportunity to expand their network while exchanging knowledge and ideas. Through these activities, the implementation of the 3R’s (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement) in a universal legal framework was highlighted as the first step towards animal-free and more human-relevant research. In terms of our transition to this ethically sustainable future we, as a community, should take into account the importance of precise method documentation, and the urgency to reach a common consensus on the standardization and validation of novel approach methodologies (NAMs). Last, but not least, on our road to successful regulatory acceptance of NAMs we shouldn’t forget to use the whole “toolbox” as there is not fit-for-all, but only fit-for-purpose methodologies.
Let’s hope that our collective efforts will soon transform this innovative vision into the new scientific reality!
A sneak-peak inside the JRC facilities in Ispra.
On our way to the JRC Summer School in Ispra!
The JRC Summer School 2023 cohort managed to bring together more than 150 scientists from all different experience levels and backgrounds!