Sue Gibbs receives Willy van Heumen oeuvre award for non-animal scientific research

Sue Gibbs, professor of Regenerative Medicine at Amsterdam University Medical Center, received the Willy van Heumen oeuvre award on December 12th 2023 for her commitment to animal-free scientific research throughout her career. This award is presented every 10 years. Gibbs is nationally and internationally recognized as an innovator and advocate for non-animal scientific research.

The Willy van Heumen Fund is named after a former resident of Heumen, Brabant, who wished to remain anonymous. The fund supports and stimulates research that brings animal-free science closer. It does so with a biennial prize as well as a ten-year oeuvre prize. This oeuvre prize – a statue, medal, certificate and € 15,000 for free expenditure on research – was presented to Professor Sue Gibbs.

Gibbs has specialised in skin and mucous membranes within regenerative medicine. She works as a principal investigator at VU/Amsterdam UMC in the Department of Molecular Cell Biology and ACTA in the Department of Oral Cell Biology. In her now more than 30-year career, Gibbs has been relentlessly and in many ways involved in the successful development of animal-free therapies and testing strategies. She is also widely recognised internationally for this.

Gibbs is a co-founder of the TPI Helpathon programme and shares her expertise with the NC3Rs, the UK’s 3Rs organisation, among others. She has a generous track record in appearances before a wide audience, where she tirelessly brings forward the opportunities that alternative technologies offer.
In her research, Gibbs has long been involved in the development of skin organoids as an animal-free methodology. In recent years, the focus of Gibbs’ career has increasingly been on teaching, both to undergraduate, graduate and PhD students, as well as PhD researchers. In doing so, she motivates a broad group of future researchers to apply non-animal methods in cell biology and immunology.

Sue Gibbs expressed herself as “completely overwhelmed” with this recognition. Her acceptance speech was brief: “I’m not one to shout from the rooftops about how research should be done. But if you are a kindred spirit and supporter, my door is always open to you.”

Sue Gibbs received the award during the Symposium ‘Transition to animal-free innovations: ambition versus realism? Researchers, policymakers and other stakeholders gathered in Utrecht to exchange views on the transition to animal-free innovations and laboratory animal research. The symposium was organised by ZonMw and the NCad of which the knowledge agenda and the target images were the focus, respectively. The session of Validation of New Approach Methodologies was chaired by hDMT.

For the report of the symposium click here.

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