The theme groups are the heart of hDMT. These groups enable scientific interaction on specific themes, coordinated by a chair and vice-chair. At the start of hDMT three theme groups were established: Vessels-on-Chip, Heart-on-Chip and Cancer-on-Chip. hDMT supported the multidisciplinary scientists, with technological, biological, or other expertise, to find a common scientific language so that the added value of collaboration paid off for their research. Today, more than 5 years later, hDMT has created an incredibly close Organ-on-Chip community. The scientists have discovered each other’s skills, know each other, find each other, and connect with each other for their research.
Brain-on-Chip, Eye-on-Chip, Gut/Liver-on-Chip and Skeletal Muscle-on-Chip theme groups are now also up and running and, like the other groups, welcome professors, postdocs and PhD students to join and actively contribute to the meetings. The activities and program differ per group and are determined by the chair, vicechair and other theme group members.
hDMT supports the scientists in the hDMT consortium with the preparation of projects right from the start. By organizing brainstorm meetings hDMT links scientists with similar interests and assists in streamlining different ideas and developing them further to a project proposal for an open or upcoming call. In the hDMT theme meetings or during the annual hDMT consortium meeting, new plans and ideas are born which often develop into new projects. Criterium for hDMT support is that at least two hDMT partner organizations are involved. The support varies from writing a support letter or texts for the proposal, to a seat on the advisory board or user committee. Another welcome support by hDMT is approaching the extensive network of more than 200 companies and other private partners and bring them into contact with the scientists, to discuss their role and cash or in-kind contribution as active collaborators in a particular project. Finally, the lobby of hDMT has resulted in the launch of special Organ-on-Chip calls, both from the Dutch government and from the European Commission as part of the Horizon 2020 program.
Among the larger grants that were awarded to hDMT researchers is the NWO Gravity grant NOCI, Netherlands Organ-on-Chip Initiative for 10 years Organ-on-Chip research, which is coordinated by LUMC. Two other grants have been awarded that focus on standardization of Organ-on-Chip by the development of open technology platforms: the ECSEL Moore4Medical project, that kicked-off in 2020 and is coordinated by TU Delft for the Organ-on-Chip part, and the SMART OoC project, coordinated by TU Eindhoven that started end of 2021. Finally, two projects have been awarded from the Dutch Research Agenda program NWA, including the Virtual Human Platform for Safety Assessment project, coordinated by Utrecht University, and the LymphChip project, coordinated by LUMC.