Organ-on-a-chip Technologies

Lead Research Organisation: Queen Mary, University of London
Department Name: Sch of Engineering and Materials Science

Abstract

Developing a new drug or therapy takes many years and can cost billions of pounds. Early testing also involves extensive testing on animals, which is a particular concern when it is considered that animal findings often don't translate well to humans, as different species often respond differently. It can also be difficult to understand what is happening in an animal and why it is responding to a treatment in a certain way. There is a strong need for new approaches which minimise animal use by using human cells and placing them in artificial test environments which offer tight control of therapy delivery and rapid, accurate analysis of response.
"Organs-on-Chips" offer exactly these advantages. Human cells are integrated within a system which mimics human tissue structures and their mechanical motions, to effectively recreate all the tissue interfaces we see in the body. This enables the behaviours of bacteria, drugs and human cells can all be monitored and investigated. The potential for this technology is outstanding, letting us see biological mechanisms and behaviours we have never been able to see before, and understand more about how diseases or injuries develop. Organ-on-a-chip devices have the capacity to eradicate animal testing, and accelerate drug discovery whilst reducing costs. Further, an individual's cells can be implanted into such a device, which makes it possible to see how that individual's body will respond to a certain treatment such as a specific drug combination, paving the way to a future of personalised medicine.
To date, research in this field has been led by the United States, where there has been major investment and exciting advances. However, there are still many challenges we must overcome if this technology is to reach its full potential. We must develop complex, multi-layered materials if we are to truly mimic tissue structures, and we must create apparatus which can load the artificial tissues in the same way as occurs in the body, for example copying the pressures and blood flow involved in a beating heart. We also need to develop ways of reading the response of the system very rapidly in real time and to ensure all technologies are contained within a single system which is easy for researchers to adopt and use. Advances in this field can rarely be made by individuals, but need engineers, chemists, materials scientist and biologists to all work together and provide their expertise towards developing solutions.
The UK houses outstanding researchers across engineering, chemistry, materials science and biology many of whom are already working on early organ-on-a-chip designs. However, if the UK is to begin leading in organ-on-a-chip development, we must bring this community together, so they can support each other, and provide the cross-discipline expertise that will be crucial for the next generation of organ-on-a-chip designs. Furthermore, it will be crucial to train the next generation of researchers to naturally work across traditional discipline divides to integrate the varied expertise they will need for successful development and implementation of new organ-on-a-chip models.

We propose a network to address these needs, and help the UK led international research in organ-on-a-chip technologies. Our goals are to:
1. Develop a vibrant, multidisciplinary research community, which brings together researchers from across the UK interested in developing and using organ-on-a-chip models. In this way we aim to forge the crucial cross-disciplinary links needed for successful organ-on-a-chip development.
2. Promote organ-on-a-chip research opportunities, to grow the research community and improve our profile across the UK and internationally.
3. Train, support and inspire the next generation of researchers, to become the outstanding researcher leaders of the future, able to lead organ-on-a-chip research on the world stage.

Technical Summary

An organ-on-a-chip is an in vitro model of a human tissue/organ which is as physiologically representative as possible and integrates the varied physiochemical cues experienced in vivo. Modulating physiochemical inputs, it is possible to recreate injury/disease in the organ and investigating response to potential therapies.
Developing in vitro models is an engineering task, in which major technical challenges remain. It is necessary to develop complex fluid flow or mechanical loading apparatus alongside high throughput rapid analytics, and also to create structured, tissue mimicking biomaterials which maintain heterogeneous cell populations. However, success in meeting these engineering challenges is predicated upon detailed biological understanding of the native tissue, its function and physiochemical environment in vivo. As such, organ-on-a-chip development is inherently multi-disciplinary, necessitating input from a wide range of physical and life science specialisms. Further, devices must be easy to use and multi-station for rapid adoption by industry/clinical trial centres, necessitating cross-sectoral input from end users originating from industry, clinic and the life sciences.
The UK houses a wealth of expertise in the technical challenges of in vitro model design. However, it is crucial we mobilise and coordinate research efforts now if we are to reach our potential as world-leaders. We will therefore facilitate cross-discipline/sector research interactions, and support proof-of-concept research to leverage further funding. We will also provide training for the next generation of researchers enabling them to understand the complex interdisciplinary nature of in vitro models technology, and develop the skills they need to become world leaders.
We propose a TTL network to address these goals, raising the profile of UK organ-on-a-chip research, engaging more UK researchers into this nascent field, and highlighting the quality of UK science internationally.

Planned Impact

Academic Impact:
Network activities will have the most immediate impact for academics working on developing the technologies needed for in vitro models. A technology developed for one in vitro model application will likely be of benefit across a significant number of other models with some modification. However, it is also likely that many of the developing technologies will be of benefit in other areas of engineering or life science research, for example utilising microfluidic advances to develop advanced fuel cells, or taking newly developed biomaterials and translating to regenerative medicine applications.
Those clinicians or life-scientists who require better in vitro models in order to carry out their discovery science research will see impact in the medium term (5-10 years), as more advanced models become available. These will assist in investigating disease aetiology or exploring tissue response to therapies or other stimuli.
Early career researchers will be particular beneficiaries of the network, with a series of activities specifically designed to support their development into the next generation of research leaders. This not only includes research skills training, but crucially covers the transferable and public engagement skills required to be a successful principal investigator also.

Commercial impact:
The network will support research activity towards developing the next generation of organ-on-a-chip models. There are a growing number of companies specifically focused on the design and build of these devices, for whom the impact of network activities will be immediate. We are directly engaging these companies in the network, to facilitate effective flow of expertise between academia and industry, and expedite translation of network members' technological advances towards building state-of-the-art models.
However, there is also extensive opportunity for commercial impact to arise from the use of new organ-on-a-chip models as these are developed (10-15 years). Appropriately designed in vitro models can help reduce the cost and time involved in taking new drugs or therapies to market, hence major pharmaceutical companies are already starting to explore their potential uses, and in some cases, engage in their design. Network activity will directly support this next tier of commercial engagement, and will grow the body of associated pharmaceutical companies as the network begins.

Clinical / Healthcare Impact:
The availability of new in vitro models offers the potential to revolutionise personalised healthcare and disease management (10-20 years). The models arising from network activity can help establish the aetiology and pathophysiology of different diseases/injuries, and thus help identify targets for new treatments which will prevent or manage these conditions more effectively. Furthermore, with in vitro models also facilitating the testing of newly identified drugs or therapies, network activities offer the potential to significantly increase the efficacy of drug discovery and testing, and expedite the route to clinical trials for new treatments. Personalised medicine becomes a reality when models are developed which can house a patient's own cells, enabling clinicians to establish how individuals respond to certain combinations of drugs or therapies, and optimising treatment for their needs.

Societal impact:
The ability to test drugs without the need for animal models will save countless animal lives. Furthermore, it will enable new potential treatments to be investigated more rapidly and cheaply within the model system, notably reducing the time to reach clinical trials. This reduction in the time/cost of drug development for pharmaceutical companies will lead to reduced therapy costs for patients, and should make a greater number of treatments more readily available.
 
Title The Organ-on-a-Chip Shop 
Description The Organ-on-a-Chip Shop was an interactive public engagement activity funded by the network, based on the concept of a " fish and chip takeaway shop". The activity was developed by network member Paul Holloway (University of Oxford) and involved shop design and the creating the "make and take" concept for organ-on-chip keyring for visitors. The activity was run at the London Science Museum by 14 network members. Visitors and researchers chatted about this emerging technology at the shop counter - before being seated in the café to design and make their own organ on a chip keyring. Using a variety of "ingredients" such as coloured beads, pens and tapes - representing the key cell types, 3D environments and mechanical forces present within the organ - visitors created their own lungs, brains, livers and joints, which, when miniaturised, were turned into key rings for them to take home. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact Nearly 300 organ-on-a-chip keyrings were made by visitors attending the event. As well as finding out about OOC technology and its role in human and animal health, visitors were also able to provide their views on: What was the most important area that organ-on-a-chip could help with (results in order of preference): 1 Personalised medicine - using a patient's own cells to find treatment that works best for them; 2 Better testing of new drugs - safer and more effective; 3 Reducing the use of animals in research;4 Testing the effect of pollutants on humans. Following on from the success of this event - the network has plans to run the shop at various public venues round the UK by developing a toolkit for other members to deliver the activity at venues across the UK. 
URL https://www.organonachip.org.uk/news/4629/the-organ-on-a-chip-shop-a-science-museum-highlight
 
Description Microphysiological Systems for COVID Research (MPSCoRe) Working Group
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
URL https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/whatwestudy/niceatm/test-method-evaluations/mps/index.html?utm_source=dire...
 
Description Public engagement skills workshop - OOACT Network Learning and Collaborative Event
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact A Public engagement workshop was run at the OOACT Network Learning and Collaborative Event on 8 & 9 April 2019. The Network is particularly keen to encourage and support future leaders in organ-on-a-chip research, with skills training taking a big part at the event. Skills training included workshops for ECRs on 'Public Engagement' delivered by an experienced trainer with participants highly rating this training session. The workshop covered: introduction to public engagement, designing interactive activities, developing ideas for hands on engagement, how to evaluate public engagement. After the workshop, a social media SLACK group was set by Network members wishing to work on OOAC science communication and public engagement. Following the event, a call for proposals was opened for Network members to submit public engagement ideas. The proposal submitted by Dr Paul Holloway, University of Oxford, called Organ on a Chip shop was selected for OOACT Network funding and was chosen to take part in Science Museum Lates: Medicine on 29 January 2020. Fourteen workshop participants took part and were able to put into practice skills learnt in the workshop at this major public science event - which attracts an audience of around 4,000 visitors.
 
Description Respiratory Patient Advisory Group - Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
URL https://www.organonachip.org.uk/research/patientinvolvement/
 
Description The Home Office Animals in Science Committee
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/animals-in-science-committee
 
Description Working Collaboratively workshop - OOACT Network Learning and Collaborative Event
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact The "Working Collaboratively" workshop was run by an experienced trainer at the OOACT Network Learning and Collaborative Event on 8 & 9 April 2019. The workshop was aimed at early career researchers and covered: The ability to work with others effectively is essential for the success of any research project. Research teams often consist of people from different disciplines and cultures, and team members may not work in the same physical space. These characteristics of research teams are becoming increasingly more common and effective communication is key to their success. This workshops will focus on using assertiveness to influence others positively, to diffuse conflict and aggression and to give and receive constructive criticism. By the end of this workshop, participants were able to: • Identify the distinctions between assertive, passive, aggressive and passive-aggressive behaviours • Identify their own preferred styles of behaviour and recognise its impact on others • Use a range of assertive techniques and adapt them to suit their needs • Negotiate comfortably in a one-to-one negotiation This workshop was highly rated by participants in post event evaluation.
 
Description 3D bio-printing human pluripotent stem cell-derived skeletal muscle constructs for disease modelling and drug discovery
Amount £90,000 (GBP)
Funding ID NC/T002085/1 
Organisation National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2020 
End 09/2023
 
Description Fully humanised 3D vascular perfused model for breast cancer modelling and therapeutic screening
Amount £75,912 (GBP)
Funding ID NC/T001259/1 
Organisation National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2019 
End 09/2021
 
Description MICA: Organ-on-a-chip models for safety testing of regenerative medicine products
Amount £620,590 (GBP)
Funding ID MR/T015462/1 
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2020 
End 05/2023
 
Description National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs): Pilot Grant
Amount £4,919 (GBP)
Funding ID AFR19-P20263 
Organisation National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2020 
End 04/2021
 
Description Organ-on-a-chip model of breast cancer bone metastases
Amount £269,601 (GBP)
Organisation Wellcome Trust 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2020 
End 12/2022
 
Description QM-Emulate Organs-on-chips Centre
Amount £525,375 (GBP)
Organisation Emulate, Inc. 
Sector Private
Country United States
Start 07/2019 
End 09/2023
 
Description Understanding dynamic immune responses within a fluidic 3D skin equivalent model
Amount £90,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 2292085 
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2019 
End 03/2023
 
Description Utilising tissue-on-a-chip technology as an ex vivo model of breast cancer metastatic colonisation
Amount £75,596 (GBP)
Funding ID NC/T001232/1 
Organisation National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2019 
End 06/2020
 
Title Cardiovascular organ-on-a-chip models 
Description The Centre for Predictive In Vitro Models (CPM) ties in directly with these activities by focusing on advanced three dimensional vascular networks and cardiac tissues for improving understanding of disease mechanisms and development of novel treatments. Currently ongoing state-of-the art projects include bioprinted vessels-on-a-chip (Gautrot Lab), vascular disease modelling based on induced pluripotent stem cells and models for studying vascular endothelial mechanosensing (Xiao Lab, Wang Lab, Krams Lab), bio-nanoarrays to study cardiomyocyte and vascular smooth muscle cell receptor-ligand interactions (Palma Lab, Iskratsch Lab), force sensing nanopillar arrays to measure cardiomyocyte contraction dynamics, or engineered heart tissues for investigating the effects of cardiac disease causing mutations or cardiotoxicity of drugs (Iskratsch Lab, Lin Lab, Tinker Lab). 
Type Of Material Model of mechanisms or symptoms - human 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in the UK and its social and economic cost is increasing constantly due to our ageing society. Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) has a longstanding commitment to world-leading research to better understand and treat heart disease. Research is currently on-going. 
URL https://www.cpm.qmul.ac.uk/research/cardiovascular/
 
Title Musculoskeletal organ-on-a-chip models 
Description Musculoskeletal models research at QMUL is interdisciplinary combining biology, bioengineering and materials science. Key research areas include development and use of in vitro models for cartilage, bone, synovium, ligament/tendon and muscle. This is associated with research in tissue regeneration, musculoskeletal biomechanics, pathology, mechanobiology and implant biomaterials. Some of the state-of-the art projects include: 3D bioprinting human pluripotent stem cell-derived skeletal muscle constructs for disease modelling (Dr Lin/Dr. Connelly); organ-on-a-chip models for safety testing of regenerative medicine products (Prof. Screen, Prof. Knight); development and testing of osteoinductive synthetic bone graft substitutes (Dr. Hing); as well as development of novel organ-chip models for synovium, tendon, bone and cartilage. 
Type Of Material Model of mechanisms or symptoms - human 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Queen Mary University of London holds two chairs of Versus Arthritis, prestigious awards in musculoskeletal research and is intimately linked to the Barts Health NHS Trust Musculoskeletal Clinical Service connecting the bench to the clinic. QMUL have also obtained a major investment from Bart's Charity for the establishment of a new Centre of Excellence for Academic Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery. Utilising human musculoskeletal models is highly advantageous to identify novel therapeutics that will halt inflammation as well as repair and regenerate damaged tissues. Research is currently on-going. 
URL https://www.cpm.qmul.ac.uk/research/musculoskeletal/
 
Title QM+Emulate Organs-on-Chips Centre: Organs-on-Chips models and platforms 
Description The QM+Emulate Organs-on-Chips Centre provides access to Emulate's Organs-on-Chips technology to enable network members to use Emulate's supported organ models which include: Liver, Proximal Tubule Kidney, Lung and Intestine or develop organ models of their design to expedite their experiments. Current projects led by network members using the centre are working with the established models for lung and liver. 
Type Of Material Model of mechanisms or symptoms - human 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Five proof of concept projects are currently running using the centre. Two projects are using the established Emulate organ on chip models for lung and liver. Three projects are developing their own experimental models using the Emulate organ-on-a-chip platform. 
URL https://www.cpm.qmul.ac.uk/emulate/poc/
 
Title new organ-on-a-chip model development 
Description We have now funded 18 different pump-priming projects each working to design the next generation on organ-on-a-chip models; in vitro models of human organs which recapitulate health and disease and enable testing of drugs and therapeutics. Eight projects are now completed and include developing organ-on-a-chip disease models for cancer and stroke; and organ-on-a-chip models for skin, bone and brain. 
Type Of Material Model of mechanisms or symptoms - human 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The first publication from projects in out now, with others following. Network members are discussing best ways to share practice and techniques for new model development. Several of the models developed in the pump-priming projects have been included in new funding proposals. The microfluidic model of the neurovascular unit created for the stroke disease model, has been awarded funding from Animal Free Research UK. This work also has also led to a collaboration with Jerome Charmet (University of Warwick) which has been awarded OOACT Network pump priming funding to test out a TEER technology in the model. 
 
Description Birmingham and UKRMP 
Organisation University of Birmingham
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are leading the development of musculoskeletal models which will be used by the UK RMP hubs
Collaborator Contribution the hub bring expertise in regenerative medicine, key targets to test in our models, and liver and lung expertise to mesh the our musculoskeletal expertise
Impact We have linked with the University of Birmingham and the UK RMP to develop our organ-chip work to support the regenerative medicine hub
Start Year 2020
 
Description new network members & their collaborations 
Organisation Queen Mary University of London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The TTL Organ on a Chip Technologies Network now has over 900 members, forging numerous new collaborations. Individuals come from across the UK academic landscape and also industry, with more than 150 different organisations represented. Our launch event drew around 60 participants and we have run a further two independent events with between 50 and 100 participants, in addition to sponsoring and engaging with 3 conferences with over 100 participants each. As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, we ran our funding sandpit event online with 32 participants from academia (engineers & life scientists) and industry. We have also established an online Organ-on-a-Chip Symposia series, attracting around 200 attendees for each event. We have now funded 18 collaborative projects (including one sandpit), enabling network members to forge new connections, with over 45 applications in total for these awards, each associated with a new collaboration the network has enabled. The applicant profile of our pump priming projects includes: 24 different academic institutions represented from UK/US/Europe; 3 industrial partners; 52 investigators and 22 researchers. The network has established a partnership with Emulate, Inc to offer an organ-on-a-chip proof of concept award to network members. The total initiative, generously supported by Emulate, consists of approximately £100k of funding which is being used to support multiple research projects providing access to £120,000 of state-of-the-art organ-chip technology available at the The Queen Mary-Emulate Organs on Chips Centre.So far, 5 projects have received this award. We have established 5 special interest groups across the field, and 2 teams working on review articles. The Brain-on-Chip Special Interest Group has a review paper accepted in the Journal of Neuroscience Research. We have also provided public engagement training to a new team who have worked together to realise events, in all instances forging new collaborations. We established a public engagement team and 4 members are now involved in the Network's ECR Advisory Group. This ECR Group assists the network with social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube), ECR training and public engagement. Network members have reported that our events and special interest groups have enabled them to forge new collaborations which have led to receiving funding awards from the Network and other funding bodies. We have detailed each of the funded sabbatical projects in the "secondments, internships or placements" section of the form, but this is really designed for a standard grant placement. As such, we have had to adjust the entries slightly, as outlined below. We have specified the lead PI for the funding application and their university as the "label for the staff member you want to tell us about" and put the collaborating institute under the "organisation involved in the secondment". If there were going from the staff member location to the involved organisation we have called it "out from" our research team. If they were going from the involved organisation to the staff member location, we have labelled it "in to". We have also provided details on the pump-priming projects as a progress report in the section: Other outputs, knowledge and future steps. Our final funding round did not generate any sabbatical placements so reported in the other outputs section.
Collaborator Contribution Our network members have been heavily involved in all our activities to date, and have taken active roles in running all of our events. Across the new collaborative projects we have supported,we estimate around £100k of in kind support from varied academic or industrial partners. We also note the time contribution from network members towards realising our events and activities.
Impact These are the network outputs and outcomes, which are listed throughout this submission in the relevant locations
Start Year 2018
 
Description 1st Queen Mary 3Rs meeting - Innovations in Animal Welfare and Research Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The 1st Queen Mary 3Rs meeting - Innovations in Animal Welfare and Research Meeting that will be held at the Innovations Centre, Clark Kennedy Lecture Theatre Blizard Institute on the afternoon of the 27th June.

Queen Mary University London is fully committed to the key principles of the 3Rs for the use of animals in research. This meeting provided an opportunity to promote and discuss all the great 3Rs innovations that QMUL staff have developed within the last year, across the reduction, refinement and replacement schemes. The program provided a broad example of the different disciplines and areas that have been funded and /or recognised for their 3Rs impacts, including work from various institutes and schools across the university.

Professor Hazel Screen gave a presentation on the role of the Organ-on-a-Chip Technologies Network in terms of 3Rs impact.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.bioengineering.qmul.ac.uk/events/?eid=3682
 
Description BioMedEng19 - one day Organ-on-a-Chip Session 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Organ-on-a-Chip Technologies Network partnered Imperial College London to run a one day organ-on-a-chip session at this year's BioMedEng19 held on 5 September. BioMedEng is the largest UK gathering of engineers working across medicine and biosciences, providing an excellent opportunity for people to hear about the Network's achievements to date, and to discover ways to get involved.

The day's activities included the following range of presentations from Network members:
- research updates from the first five Organ-on-a-Chip Technologies Network funded sabbatical projects
- introductions from the recently established Review Groups and Special Interest Groups, the latter including Commercially available OOAC platforms by Malcolm Haddrick, Medicines Discovery Catapult; Brain on a chip by Paul Holloway, University of Oxford; Label free real-time monitoring - translation to OOAC model by Pierre Bagnaninchi, University of Edinburgh; and patient involvement in OOACT by Blerina Ahmetaj, Imperial College London
-organ-on-a-chip public engagement project led by Paul Holloway, selected for Science Museum Lates in January 2020.

Delegates also had an opportunity in the afternoon to find out more and get involved in helping to drive forward the work of the OOACT Network's Special Interest and Review Groups during round table talks.

Fran Balkwill, Professor of Cancer Biology, QMUL, provided the keynote speech on recreating the human tumour microenvironment for the session on organ-on-a-chip and artificial organs. The day was completed with an industry focused plenary from David Hughes, CN Bio Innovation. This session was chaired by the Network's director, Hazel Screen, Professor of Biomedical Engineering QMUL.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.organonachip.org.uk/news/4624/organ-on-a-chip-technology-in-the-spotlight-at-this-year-s...
 
Description Bioengineering on a Chip symposium - Imperial College London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This event provided a forum for research at the interface of microfluidics, lab/organ-on-chip and biosensors with a series of talks, posters, and networking.

Special guests include Professor Hazel Screen, Director of the Organ-on-a-Chip network and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Queen Mary University of London and Dr. Xize Niu, Associate Professor at the University of Southampton whose research focuses on developing wearable/portable chemical sensors for healthcare and environmental monitoring.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.bioengineering.qmul.ac.uk/events/?eid=3675
 
Description Developing network communications 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact "Improved research community communication" was a development need identified at the launch event so we are building infrastructure to facilitate this. We have set up forums for the community, where members can share information, resources, opportunities and discuss research and are also using the site to help advertise other activity in this field to ensure all researchers are active and aware of ongoing activity. Our newsletter now goes out roughly monthly, with updates on the latest research articles and outputs, jobs, funding and collaborative opportunities; and events.

According to Mailchimp which publishes our newsletter, our audience open rate of 40.4% is 10% above that of comparable industries in our field.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019,2020,2021
URL http://www.organonachip.org.uk/news/chip-news/
 
Description ORGAN-ON-A-CHIP: CURRENT GAPS AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Participants attending this event benefited from hearing a candid and critical perspective on the technology by leading academics, end users, regulators and manufacturers, and determining if the technology is currently able to replace more conventional approaches and, if not, where the remaining gaps are.

The funding from the OOACT Network helped us to run the hands-on practical sessions at the event, which were valued as a very important part of the meeting by our delegates and an excellent way to build on the lecture sessions at the event. The practical sessions were essential to the programme and helped demonstrate the latest technologies and increase interaction of the group, which is also rated as a very important part of our training events.

The funding was specifically used to contribute to the costs of the consumables and the student helpers during these sessions.

The event content was built on shorter sessions that have been run in the past, and the lessons learned and feedback received will link into future events. Although there are no repeat events planned at the moment, the University of Hull also run 1-2 sessions per year on this topic aimed at a variety of audiences from secondary school to PhD level and again, always take the event feedback into account when planning future sessions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.organonachip.org.uk/research/smallgrantsawards/
 
Description ORGAN-ON-A-CHIP: LAB-ON-A-CHIP TECHNOLOGY IN BIOCHEMISTRY; A HANDS ON WORKSHOP 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Lab-on-chip devices allow precise control over liquid handing at microscopic scales - and are applied in anything that involves liquid handing from enzyme-catalysed reaction chemistry to synthesis of smart biomaterials, point-of-care clinical diagnostics, and biomedical studies on cells and tissue. The course provided an overview of the current state-of-art approaches on lab-on-a-chip, from materials and fabrication, to biochemical and biomedical research applications, with hands-on sessions building on the talks, both provided by our specialist researchers at the University of Hull. There was also a session focused on discussing the implications of these technologies both as clinically relevant devices, as well as 3R strategies for in vivo models.

The learning outcomes for delegates were as follows:
• developing an understanding of design and fabrication of lab-on-a-chip device
• gaining an overview of applications of lab-on-a-chip devices, from basic research, to devices with a potential use in the clinic
• gaining an insider insight on the pitfalls of bringing this type of technology for the market from an industry speaker
• exploring networking between attendees from various Universities and Research fields, as well as with the speakers and helpers (who are working in the lab-on-chip field)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.organonachip.org.uk/research/smallgrantsawards
 
Description Organ on a chip activity development 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We ran a series of working groups at our launch event to establish best practise for integrating with both the public and policymakers to grow the field, and improve understanding of the research goals and capabilities. A number of initiatives are now beginning as a result of the groups, with public engagement activities beginning in April, and further discussion groups to establish how we best produce a white paper to lay out the state of the field, opportunities and risks.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Organ-on-a-Chip Symposium - October 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Inspired by the excellent response to online seminars during the pandemic, the Organ-on-a-Chip Technologies Network launched an OOAC Symposia series starting in September 2020 (via Microsoft Teams). The Network serves the whole of the UK research community and, as such, it is great to have an online seminar series that is accessible to everyone. Format: keynote speaker, abstract presentations, flash talks, 25 min Q&A. The seminar series includes: a broad focus encompassing all in vitro models research aimed at predicting human biology; a mix of abstract talks and invited high profile speakers in the field; publishing abstracts on the OOACT Network website. This exciting new symposia series - attracting international speakers and global audiences - provides a great opportunity for academics and industrialists working with organs on chips/in vitro models to share their work with others in the field - increasing knowledge and potentially leading to new collaborative research . Attendance approx 200.

Programme:
Keynote: Prof Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, Columbia University, New York: "Human "organs on a chip" platforms for modeling physiology and disease" (45 mins plus Q&A)
Abstract presentations:
Gopu Sriram, National University of Singapore, "Advancing Skin and Oral Mucosa Models using Organ-on-a-Chip Devices"
Mootaz M. Salman, Harvard University: "Design and validation of a human brain endothelial microvessel-on-a-chip open microfluidic model enabling advanced optical imaging"
Chiara Barberio, Owens Lab, University of Cambridge: "Development of a 3D in vitro model of the neurovascular unit (NVU) integrated with a conducting polymer device for continuous monitoring"
Flash talk:
Tanja Šuligoj, Quadram Institute Bioscience, Norwich Research Park, "Effects of fermented human milk oligosaccharides on gut barrier function in adults"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.cpm.qmul.ac.uk/events/4610/organ-on-a-chip-symposium-october-2020
 
Description Organ-on-a-Chip Symposium - September 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Inspired by the excellent response to online seminars during the pandemic, the Organ-on-a-Chip Technologies Network launched an OOAC Symposia series starting in September 2020 (via Microsoft Teams). The Network serves the whole of the UK research community and, as such, it is great to have an online seminar series that is accessible to everyone. Format: keynote speaker, abstract presentations, flash talks, 25 min Q&A.
The seminar series includes: a broad focus encompassing all in vitro models research aimed at predicting human biology; a mix of abstract talks and invited high profile speakers in the field; publishing abstracts on the OOACT Network website.

This exciting new symposia series - attracting international speakers and global audiences - provides a great opportunity for academics and industrialists working with organs on chips/in vitro models to share their work with others in the field - increasing knowledge and potentially leading to new collaborative research . Attendance approx 200.

Programme:
Keynote:Prof Milica Radisic, University of Toronto: "Advances in Organ-on-a-Chip Engineering"
Abstract presentations
Vivek V Thacker, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne: "SARS-CoV-2 infection leads to rapid endothelial infection and endothelialitis in a human alveolus-on-chip infection model"
Joana F. Neves, Centre for Host-Microbiome Interactions, King's College London: "Multicomponent intestinal organoid system reveals that ILC1-derived TGF?1 drives epithelial and matrix remodelling"
Kinga Kosim, Mimetas, "A microfluidic based human gut-on-a-chip model for 3D organ and disease modelling"
Flash talk:
Shayin Gibson, Tumour Biology, Barts Cancer Institute, "Breast cancer spheroids: a platform to decipher critical luminal-myoepithelial interactions during disease progression"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.cpm.qmul.ac.uk/events/4609/organ-on-a-chip-symposium-september-2020
 
Description Organ-on-a-Chip Technologies Network - Learning and Collaborative Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Close to a hundred academics and industrialists working in the field of organ-on-a-chip technology came to Queen Mary University of London on 8 & 9 April, for a learning and collaborative event organised by the Organ-on-a-Chip Technologies Network. The UK-wide network is providing a foundation for interdisciplinary research in this innovative technology area, funded by the UKRI Technology Touching Life Scheme.

The event provided a fantastic opportunity for people from varied disciplines to share information on Organ on a Chip (OOAC) research and current technologies; discover new opportunities to work together; and establish now best the network can drive forward organ-on-a-chip research and development in the UK.

Talks and demonstrations by industry representatives from BEOnChip, BI/OND, CN-Bio, Emulate and MIMETAS provided an important opportunity for network members to find out about OOAC models and platforms available on the market. These talks complemented the academic presentations, in which researchers were able to showcase their research, developing new OOAC technologies and models.

The network is particularly keen to encourage and support future leaders in organ-on-a-chip research, with skills training taking a big part at the event, and many of the research talks coming from early career researchers. Skills training included workshops for ECRs in: 'Working collaboratively' and 'Public Engagement' Attendees highly rated both these training sessions. A social media SLACK group was set up for Network members wishing to work on OOAC science communication and public engagement. Following the event a call for proposals was opened to members to submit public engagement ideas. The proposal submitted by Dr Paul Holloway, University of Oxford, called Organ on a Chip shop was selected for OOACT Network funding and was chosen to take part in Science Museum Lates: Medicine on 29 January 2020.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.organonachip.org.uk/news/4616/organ-on-a-chip-learning-and-collaborative-event-a-great-s...
 
Description Organ-on-a-Chip Technologies Network Funding Sandpit Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The OOACT Network's sandpit - originally planned face to face in April this year - was run successfully using MS Teams from 29 September to 1 October. The event was facilitated by Rebecca Steliaros from Research in Focus. This interactive funding sandpit event provided a great opportunity for 32 senior academic and industrialist network members from across the UK to work together - developing major grants proposals on vital OOAC research. Funders attending the event enabled participants to find out more about major funding sources and ask questions.
The sandpit event was run in conjunction with opening the network's final project pump priming funding round. The aim was to drive forward research to address the major challenge areas within the organs-on-chips field. This event provided a great springboard to start identifying these challenges and encouraging people from different disciplines to work together to find solutions. Sandpit participants were given chance to apply for network funds in the final funding round of up to 40K (100%fEC) for Sandpit projects and 30K (100% fEC) open call projects - helping to increase the success of securing major grants (> £1 million). The final funding round received 27 applications (including 2 Sandpit applications), 10 projects were funded (including 1 Sandpit). The event also enabled participants to make new connections with people working in the field, leading to at least one new collaboration currently working on grant proposal.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.organonachip.org.uk/news/4653/organ-on-chip-funding-sandpit-goes-virtual
 
Description Organ-on-a-chip network symposium - November 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Inspired by the excellent response to online seminars during the pandemic, the Organ-on-a-Chip Technologies Network launched an OOAC Symposia series starting in September 2020 (via Microsoft Teams). The Network serves the whole of the UK research community and, as such, it is great to have an online seminar series that is accessible to everyone. Format: keynote speaker, abstract presentations, flash talks, 25 min Q&A. The seminar series includes: a broad focus encompassing all in vitro models research aimed at predicting human biology; a mix of abstract talks and invited high profile speakers in the field; publishing abstracts on the OOACT Network website. This exciting new symposia series - attracting international speakers and global audiences - provides a great opportunity for academics and industrialists working with organs on chips/in vitro models to share their work with others in the field - increasing knowledge and potentially leading to new collaborative research . Attendance approx 200.

Programme:
Keynote: Dr Karl Koehler, Harvard Medical School: "Building multi-lineage sensory organoids from stem cells"
Abstracts:
Arunima Sengupta, ARTORG Organs-on-Chip Technologies, University of Bern, Switzerland, "Modelling chronic lung diseases in a bio-inspired breathing alveolus-on-chip model"
Asli Akidil, Clinical Pharmacology & Safety Sciences, R&D, AstraZeneca, "Development and application of a bone marrow microphysiological system to inform oncology drug-combination scheduling"
Haneen Alsehli, Centre for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine, King's College London, "An integrated pipeline for high-throughput screening and profiling of spheroids using simple live image analysis of frame to frame variations"
Flash talk
Abhinav Bhushan, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology, "White/Brown Adipose-Liver Cross Talk Through the Path to Type 2 Diabetes"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.cpm.qmul.ac.uk/events/4614/organ-on-a-chip-network-symposium-november
 
Description Pan-London 3Rs Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Co-organised with the NC3Rs this free symposium brought together researchers and animal technologists from London research institutions to provide an opportunity for individuals to showcase their 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement of animals in research) initiatives, and to share ideas and opportunities to further implement the 3Rs leading to better quality research. Resources and funding opportunities available from the NC3Rs (www.nc3rs.org.uk) were also be highlighted to support researchers and technicians in applying the 3Rs to their work.

Prof Martin Knight (Queen Mary University of London/OOOAC Network co-director) presented in the researcher showcase session: "The importance of mechanical stimulation for predictive in vitro model".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/pan-london-3rs-symposium-2021-registration-138418089231?aff=ebdssbonl...
 
Description Plant-based plastic chip used for medicine testing 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Dr Maiwenn Kersaudy-Kerhoas and Alfredo Ongaro were interviewed by BBC Scotland about their research on plant based plastic organ on chips. This project is a sabbatical project funded by Organ-on-a-Chip Technologies Network. The research was featured in a BBC web article and an appearance on the BBC Scotland Today show in November 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-50345522
 
Description Queen Mary+Emulate Organs-on-Chips Centre Virtual Launch 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Queen Mary+Emulate Organs-on-Chips Centre Virtual Launch: Included presentation given by Hazel Screen (OOACTN director) on networks member access to the centre and new proof of concept award (co-funded by Emulate and OOACTN).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.cpm.qmul.ac.uk/events/4612/queen-mary-emulate-organs-on-chips-centre-virtual-launch
 
Description Science Museum Lates: Medicine - Organ on a Chip Shop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Fifteen engineers and life scientists from the OOACT Network took part in Science Museum 'Medicine Lates' with a 'make and take'activity as part of the celebration of the new Medicine Galleries.

The make and take activity took the form of an 'Organ on chip shop', providing the opportunity for participants to learn more about Organ on chip technology at the shop counter and even go round into the 'kitchen' where they can make a miniature organ on chip keyring to take home. The activity was developed by OOACT Network Member, Dr Paul Holloway from University of Oxford and funded by the OOACT Network. It also provided an opportunity for researcher to hear what visitors thought about the technology and give their opinion on where the technology might have the greatest impact: personalised medicine, better testing of medicines, reducing animals in research or testing effect of pollutants on humans.

This activity was promoted as one of the evening's highlights and was run in the gallery cafe where visitors could join researchers at tables to make their own organ on a chip on a white board (lung, liver, brain or joint) using coloured beads, pens and tapes. This was then photographed and printed onto shrinkable acetate before baking in an oven to produce their own organ on a chip key ring to take home.

This event provided the Lates visitors the unique opportunity to learn about the cutting edge developments in how scientists can grow cells in the lab and how microchip technologies have been adapted to create miniature devices that organise living cells in a way that represents an organ. The activity encouraged them to think about how the function and structure of an organ might be simplified and miniaturised, just as organ on chip scientists are doing. In fact using shrink acetate is one of the many ways that scientists can make actual organ on chip devices, with the thickness of the printed ink in a line being used as a mould to create channels.

Around 300 OOAC key rings were made at the event by visitors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.organonachip.org.uk/news/4629/the-organ-on-a-chip-shop-a-science-museum-highlight
 
Description Special Interest Group Forum - Organ on an Chip Patient Involvement 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact OOACT Network members have been busy setting up the following specialist groups - providing a great opportunity to connect people with shared interests and help shape organ-on-a-chip research and development in the UK. Using the OOACT website, a forum webpage (accessible to OOACT members only) has been set up to allow members to communicate and share information.

This special interest group is led by Blerina Ahmetaj-Shala, Imperial College London with the following remit:

The whole concept of OOAC technology exists so that it can ultimately help transform lives of people suffering from a range of diseases - including cardiovascular and respiratory disease and cancer.

Therefore - the patient perspective is critical. Their life experience can help us better understand what they see as the opportunities and concerns of this technology in terms of their own healthcare and for society as a whole. Ultimately by engaging with patients, we aim to find out how best to involve patients in the development and application of this technology; increase public awareness of this technology; and ensure its potential uses in future healthcare meet patient needs.

This interest group is great way to start sharing experience and good practice in patient involvement with other like-minded people and importantly, find ways to improve the apparent shortage of information on patient opinion in OOAC technology.

On 24 June 2019, Blerina and Network administrator Julia Coffey, took part in an organ-on-a-chip technology discussion with a research focused, respiratory patient advisory group based at Royal Brompton Hospital. The aim of the meeting was to:

- better understand the patient perspective - informing academics and industrialists working in the field on possible expectations, advantages and any concerns relating to this technology from a patient viewpoint
- raise patient awareness

The patient advisers were very interested in the technology; suggesting extremely helpful improvements to our OOAC website from a public perspective as well as how to increase patient awareness.

Importantly - the discussion also generated a number insightful questions on organ-on-a-chip technology of interest to patients and public. Based on the findings of this meeting, a Q&A sheet is currently being developed by Network members. This Q&A sheet will be made available on the OOAC website and used in OOAC technology research and development decision making where relevant.

Further patient group meetings (including cardiovascular patients and young patients) are to be organised in 2020. This will ensure we cover viewpoints from a variety of sources to help inform and improve our understanding of the patient perspective.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.organonachip.org.uk/research/patientinvolvement/
 
Description Special Interest Group Forum: Available commercial systems and their users 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact OOACT Network members have been busy setting up the following specialist groups - providing a great opportunity to connect people with shared interests and help shape organ-on-a-chip research and development in the UK. Using the OOACT website, a forum webpage (accessible to OOACT members only) has been set up to allow members to communicate and share information.

This special interest group is led by Malcolm Haddrick (Medicines Discovery Catapult) and aimed at people working in academia or industry, bringing together a community of users and developers of OOAC devices.

This group encourages users to bring your experience of commercial platforms, what they are good at, where are the gaps, current problems. By sharing data, experiences, tips and have access to a community helps with troubleshooting.

A subgroup of forum members is currently working on a major review article in this field and has undertaken a recent survey involving Network members titled: Translational Questionnaire for Organs-on-a-Chip Developers and Users (created by Network members: V. Allwardt, M. Wilkinson, P. Viswanathan, M. Haddrick, V.Pensabene).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Special Interest Group Forum: Brain on a Chip 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact OOACT Network members have been busy setting up the following specialist groups - providing a great opportunity to connect people with shared interests and help shape organ-on-a-chip research and development in the UK. Using the OOACT website, a forum webpage (accessible to OOACT members only) has been set up to allow members to communicate and share information.

This Special Interest Group is led by Paul Holloway, University of Oxford is keen to bring together researchers who are developing organ on chip or microfluidic systems which aim to model the unique properties of the CNS.

This may include investigation of neuronal signalling, on chip electrophysiology, blood brain barrier models, advanced neuronal and glial cell culture systems and neurovascular unit models.

This group provides the opportunity to discuss the challenges faced in modelling this exquisitely complex organ - from sourcing cell types and sharing cell differentiation protocols to bringing together of specialist expertise and stimulating collaboration. Along with sharing information on funding opportunities, relevant meetings and recent achievements of group members - it is suggested that the group should first focus on writing a review on "Neurological disease on a chip" summarising the current state of the art in terms of using microfluidic and organ on chip technologies to model neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's, MS, stroke and Parkinson's disease.

The group has produced and shared its first newsletter (Autumn 2019). The Brain-on-Chip Special Interest Group has a review paper accepted in the Journal of Neuroscience Research (2021).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Special Interest Group Forum: Label free real time monitoring - translation of OOAC model 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact OOACT Network members have been busy setting up the following specialist groups - providing a great opportunity to connect people with shared interests and help shape organ-on-a-chip research and development in the UK. Using the OOACT website, a forum webpage (accessible to OOACT members only) has been set up to allow members to communicate and share information.

This interest group is led by Pierre Bagnaninchi, University of Edinburgh and the groups remit is as follows:

Organ on a Chip (OOAC) is associated with long term, complex, and often costly cell culture. In this context, label-free real-time monitoring technologies that can allow longitudinal studies without interfering with the samples are very desirable. Both on-chip (e.g. impedance sensing), and off-chip (e.g. label-free imaging) methods can be implemented.

This special interest group (SIG) is keen to:
- establish end-user expectations and identify associated challenges
- list potential technologies to achieve real-time monitoring of OOAC
- list parameters that could be measured in real-time and their relation to the biological question of interest
-identify a pool of expertise in UK (Academia, Industry)
-link together the different actors through the OOAC network
-share SIG findings and recommendations in documents available through the OOAC network

The group is developing a working document on existing needs and solutions with a list of associated contacts. The aim is to develop a document/report that can be shared more widely.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Special Interest Group Forum: Protocol Bank 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact OOACT Network members have been busy setting up the following specialist groups - providing a great opportunity to connect people with shared interests and help shape organ-on-a-chip research and development in the UK. Using the OOACT website, a forum webpage (accessible to OOACT members only) has been set up to allow members to communicate and share information.

This interest group is led by Pranav Vasanthi, University of Birmingham with the following remit:

This forum aims to share OOACT protocols - providing both general and specific information - to help network members:

• develop their own OOAC models
• discuss protocol concerns/development issues and identify solutions
• increase collaborative opportunities across the community

A protocol bank template has been developed for use by members to share protocols.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019