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Announcement of the first two winners of the Albert Geerts Fellowship

After a careful evaluation process performed by three external reviewers led by Prof. Massimo Colombo, we proudly announce the first two winners of the Albert Geerts Fellowship, Dr. Margarita Papatheodoridi and Dr. Ignacio Bon Romero. They will be entitled to a 1-year salary support and a small travel stipend to enable their planned stay at a collaborator lab.

Dr. Margarita Papatheodoridi is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Liver and Digestive Health, University College London, in London, UK and is performing a project on whole human liver regeneration.

“I am delighted to be a recipient of the Fellowship of the EASL Consortium for Regenerative Hepatology dedicated to Albert Geerts (Albert Geerts’ Fellowship). This Fellowship will essentially help me to fund and complete my post-doc project on Whole Human Liver Regeneration. Accordingly, it will constitute a crucial step towards my personal and professional development offering invaluable incentive to gain expertise and novel skillset in renowned centres of excellence in the field of liver bioengineering and stem cell research.

My current “Whole human liver regeneration” project aims to provide the first proof-of-concept recellularisation of a whole human liver bioscaffold with primary human hepatoblasts, in order to construct a large (30%) bioengineered liver mass and address the most ambitious goal of the EASL consortium. To meet the project goals, it will be needed to collaborate with two major stockholders of the EASL Consortium for Regenerative Hepatology, UCL Institute of Liver and Digestive Health, London, UK and Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, Cambridge, UK. This challenging project is expected to generate the first proof-of-concept for engineering whole human livers using human liver cells, which could be used in the future as engineered transplantable organs, and therefore bring Regenerative Hepatology applications one step closer to clinical translation.”

Dr. Ignacio Bon Romero, is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Health Research Institute of Aragon (IIS Aragon), in Zaragoza, Spain and is working on a project investigating the effect of the human intestinal microbiome secretome on liver and hepatic cells maturation.

“For me, this fellowship will provide the needed funding to extend my postdoctoral career and will give me the opportunity to visit other laboratories and learn from different experts. As scientists, we need to be open-minded about different ways of work development, always looking for the most advanced techniques to answer the questions we raise, and this fellowship will surely broaden my expertise to embark on what I hope will be a fruitful scientific career over the years.

My project will focus on the improvement of the development of hepatic tissue in the laboratory, a very important task for the upcoming wave of personalized medicine. The lack of organs to perform transplants, and most importantly, in the case of this study, livers, is a handicap for the wellbeing of patients. Being able to advance the knowledge and techniques to create functional and mature artificial organs will surely help, in what I hope will be our close future, to solve the lack of donors and the problems we are facing nowadays with traditional organ transplants. Hence, I’ll be investigating the effects of the human intestinal microbiome secretome on liver and hepatic cells maturation. Thus, artificial organs could not only solve this need, but improve the lives of patients who have to undergo such procedures. Finally, and within the scope of this fellowship, I will also visit Prof. Massimo Pinzani’s Lab at UCL, London, UK and Dr. Bart Spee’s Lab at Utrecht University, The Netherlands to understand the effect of the microbiome in their hepatic model systems.”