AstraZeneca 2021 award for the ONTOX scientist

Prof. Liesbet Geris from the ONTOX’s project partner Université de Liège won one of the prominent AstraZeneca Awards for her research into developing new in silico strategies in the field of tissue engineering.

Each year, the Astra Zeneca Foundation awards four researchers for their outstanding work. Winners are chosen by the independent jury from the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS) and the Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO). This year, the jury rewarded Prof. Liesbet Geris from the Université de Liège for her research effort in the category “New strategies in regenerative medicine”.

“In silico tools in the context of regenerative medicine are still somewhat ‘the new kid on the block’. Receiving a prestigious award such as this one is not only a great recognition of the work we are doing, it also provides additional visibility to our budding field. Hence, the award will not only provide a stimulus to the continuation of our own work but on a broader scale it is also an important boost to realizing the full potential of in silico regenerative medicine in general.”

New hope in the regenerative medicine

Prof. Geris’s research is directed toward creating a new type of biomaterial for patients who need bone, cartilage, or dental implants but do not have enough bone to attach them. By creating numerical models based on thousands of data from previous transplants, she and her team have pushed the boundaries of regenerative medicine.

The new 3D-printed biomaterial will attract cells to form new tissue and allow it to integrate into the patient’s body. Thanks to the extensive work of Prof. Geris and her team, the biomaterial is optimized for better rooting in the patient’s body. “We started by determining what cells like and where they grow best. We have developed a particular shape, easy to 3D print, in a material found in bones, calcium phosphate,” explains Prof. Geris. The first clinical trial should start next year.

ONTOX activities

Liesbet Geris is a Research Professor in Biomechanics and Computational Tissue Engineering at the University de Liège and KU Leuven in Belgium. She is also the scientific coordinator of the Prometheus platform for Skeletal Tissue Engineering and the current Executive Director of the Virtual Physiological Human Institute.

Within the ONTOX project, Prof. Geris contributes to the work packages dedicated to the biological domain as well as the data integration, ontology and artificial intelligence. She is the leader of the tasks on establishing quantitative physiological maps for the liver, kidneys, and developing brain and establishing ontologies for the selected systemic repeated dose toxicity effects.