ONTOX young researchers recognised at the ESTIV and ASPIS

Several young scientists from the ONTOX project have been awarded during the 21st International Congress of the European Society of Toxicology In Vitro (ESTIV Congress) and the ASPIS Open Symposium (ASPIS OS).

The European Society of Toxicology In Vitro organises the ESTIV Congress every 2 years to promote the development of in vitro and in silico approaches. This year, the ASPIS Open Symposium was the satellite event of ESTIV 2022. The three consortia (ONTOX, PrecisionTox, RISK-HUNT3R) forming the ASPIS cluster presented their latest work in the implementation of the New Approach Methodologies (NAMs) in chemical risk assessment during the ASPIS OS.

Awards for the excellent posters

As an established tradition, the ESTIV Congress committee granted several awards during the Congress closing ceremony. Among the awardees were also the young talented ONTOX scientists:

Jiang Jian, PhD (Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel), was awarded for the poster “Applying machine learning approaches to identify key genes associated with drug-induced cholestasis” by the Toxicology in vitro/Elsevier best poster award.

Jiang Jian, PhD presenting her poster at the ESTIV 2022 Congress.

“I am deeply honoured to have been chosen amongst my peers for this poster award. Machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence, and machine learning models are sophisticated algorithms that enable computers to learn from data, unravel embedded patterns and make predictions. Applying machine learning methods to high-dimensional transcriptomic data offers an opportunity to predict adverse effects after chemical exposures better. I am grateful to receive this acknowledgement and glad to see the scientific community has recognised my work,” comments Jiang.

Job Berkhout (PhD Candidate at the Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (IRAS), Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Utrecht University) won the Universitat de Barcelona best poster award for the “Computational modelling of neural tube closure effects” poster.

Job Berkhout and his poster at the ESTIV 2022 Congress.

Moreover, Anouk Verhoeven (PhD Researcher at the Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel) gained Björn Ekwall Memorial Foundation (BEMF) student travel bursary for the poster “An updated adverse outcome pathway network for chemical-induced liver steatosis“.

Anouk Verhoeven with her poster at the ESTIV 2022 Congress.

Poster awards were also an influential agenda during the closing remarks of the ASPIS Open Symposium. The best poster award was granted to Eliška Kuchovská, PhD (Postdoctoral Researcher at the Alternative method development for environmental toxicity testing at the Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine) for the poster “In vitro New Approach Methodologies (NAMs) for assessing effects of chemicals leading to cognitive function defects in children – the contribution of the ONTOX project“.

Eliška Kuchovská with her poster presented at the ASPIS Open Symposium.

Eliška notes on the prize: “I am thrilled and proud that our work on in vitro NAMs for developmental neurotoxicity testing was awarded. This work enhances the paradigm change in human toxicology, aiming for a more reliable, human-relevant, ethical, and sustainable risk assessment of chemicals. I really liked this ASPIS poster session as it was an ideal opportunity to get to know the work of the early-career researchers in RISK-HUNT3R and PrecisionTox. I’m looking forward to more such interactions!”

Our hearty congratulations to these extraordinary young people! We are thrilled that the experts’ award committees recognised their effort in the ONTOX project.

Photo presentation of the ONTOX scientists who participated at the ESTIV Congress 2022 and ASPIS Open Symposium.

About the ESTIV Congress

The ESTIV Congress aims to create a forum of scientists in a unique atmosphere for discussions and knowledge exchange. The objective of the event is also to promote contact between junior and senior researchers, students, and toxicologists from European companies, governments, and universities involved in the development and use of in vitro and in silico approaches.

About the ASPIS Open Symposium

ASPIS Open Symposium is an annual event hosted by one of the ASPIS cluster projects (ONTOX, PrecisionTox, RISK-HUNT3R). It aims to showcase the joint efforts of these consortia in implementing the NAMs in the chemical risk assessment, increase confidence in using NAMs, identify barriers, and provide solutions for reducing, refining, and replacing animal testing. It encourages the work of early career researchers and creates a network of next-generation decision-makers. that will facilitate communication among ASPIS and international stakeholders.