Our Animal Free Research UK conference will host a fantastic range of dedicated and inspiring scientists who will be presenting their work on advancing in vitro research, in silico research, and thinking beyond animal-derived biomaterials and much more.
Here are our list of speakers:
Amanda Ellison is a neuroscientist and physiologist who never got past the why phase.
She started her University education with a Natural Science degree that specialised in Physiology at Trinity College Dublin. Wanting to focus on how the brain brings about our behaviour, Amanda made the jump to the Psychology department to carry out a PhD in visual neuroscience. During this time, she got involved with a new human neuroscience technique on the block: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). She has since used it to ask questions about what different regions of the brain do and how they talk to each other, important to know if we want to restore function after damage. Before this kind of neurostimulation, these experiments would have been done by lesioning animal brains.
Amanda’s first job out of her PhD was funded by the Dr Hadwen Trust at Oxford University. Having moved to Durham University to set up her own lab, The Dr Hadwen Trust funded a postdoc in Amanda’s lab to fully establish TMS as a human relevant animal replacement technique. Now a Professor of Neuroscience at Durham, she enjoys inspiring the next generation of animal replacement scientists and is passionate about scientific communication. She has just come to the end of her tenure as an Animal Free Research UK trustee.
Mike Philpott is currently Professor of Cutaneous Biology at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and leads the Animal Free Research UK Animal Replacement Centre of Excellence (ARC) at QMUL.
Mike Philpott originally worked for the Ministry of Defense (Navy) before going on to study Marine Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Wales, Bangor graduating in 1986. He obtained his D. Phil from the University of Oxford in 1990 the title of his thesis was ‘Studies on isolated hair follicles’ from which he published on the in vitro culture and growth of human hair follicles now referred to as the ‘Philpott model’. He continued his research into hair follicle biology at the University of Cambridge before taking up an academic post QMUL in 1996.
His research interests include hair biology, wound healing, the role of cortisol in skin biology, steroidogenesis and sebocyte differentiation and the role of hedgehog signalling and Gli transcription factors in the development of basal cell carcinoma. During his PhD Mike Philpott developed a very strong interest in animal replacement science and much of his subsequent career has focused on the development of human models for human skin disease.
Geoff is Past-President of the British Neuro-oncology Society and past Treasurer and Executive Board Member of the European Association of Neuro-oncology. He also holds membership of several professional scientific bodies including the British Neuroscience Association, British Neuropathological Society (formally Programme Secretary), Society of Neuro-oncology, and European Association for Cancer Research.
His career in brain tumour research started at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School in the early 1970s, subsequently spending 23 years at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London, latterly as Professor of Experimental Neuro-oncology. In 2003 he moved to the University of Portsmouth, as Professor of Cellular & Molecular Neuro-oncology, Director of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences Research and Head of the Brain Tumour Research Centre.
He is passionate about human in vitro models in medicine, particularly in the context of pre-clinical testing and champions the use of re-purposed drugs in cancer treatment, which, he believes, can be fast-tracked into clinic without recourse to use animal models.
He has headed ‘Human Relevant and Animal-Free’ Brain Tumour Research groups, including the Portsmouth Brain Tumour Research Centre, since the mid-1980s. In addition, he acts as an advisor to several UK charities. He is currently a Scientific Trustee of Animal Free Research UK.
Nick’s research focusses on the role of the extracellular environment on the progression of colorectal cancer. With a background in the role of the extracellular matrix in disease, he currently runs projects which focus on how alterations to this matrix influence cancer growth, invasion, and the efficacy of treatments. Nick’s team uses a variety of in vitro models to mimic the colorectal cancer microenvironment, allowing the assessment of the role stromal cells that surround a growing cancer play – particularly fibroblasts – and how biochemical and biomechanical features influence cancer cell behaviour and responses.
Nick is particularly interested in an enzyme called transglutaminase-2 which causes matrix cross-linking and stiffening and is linked to poor disease outcome, and is also interested in the role of extracellular vesicles in driving the cross-talk between colorectal cancer and its microenvironment, and their contribution to enzymatic and biomechanical remodelling. The aim of this research is to understand the interactions that link tissue structure to disease progression, and to explore the potential to develop new ways to improve treatment of advanced colorectal cancer which currently has a poor prognosis.
Dr Nick Turner holds a BSc in Pharmacology from The University of Southampton, an MRes in Biochemistry from The University of Exeter and PhD in Bioorganic Chemistry from Cranfield University . He has held postdoctoral positions at Cranfield, the University of Utah and The University of Newcastle, Australia. For nine years he was a Lecturer in Analytical Science at the Open University. He took up his current position of Reader in Bioanalytical Chemistry in 2018.
He has 20 years’ experience in the field of molecular imprinting with a focus on the biological applications of these materials. As an expert in bioanalytical chemistry, Dr Turner believes that nanoscale biomimetics can be applied to solve numerous challenges that face researchers today. Be it in the development of clinical diagnostics, trace chemical analysis, or advanced therapeutics. Dr Turner believes that we have the capability to surpass natural molecular recognition elements by building artificial “locks” for biological “keys”, and replace the need for using antibodies or enzymes in many systems.
Ros completed her BBSRC-Unilever PhD studentship in dermatoendocrinology at the Blizard Institute, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) in 2009 where she identified novel steroid production in keratinocytes.
She actively created all her ubsequent postdoctoral research posts with successful funding to investigate the disruption of steroid synthesis in inflammatory skin disease. During this time, she observed that critical pathways in keratinocyte steroid production (that overlap with xenobiotic metabolism) rapidly shut down with the act of standard culture, and that new approaches to skin culture were required to advance dermatology.
Ros then set about addressing fundamental limitations of skin culture, that cause rapid degradation of skin barrier function and viability. In 2018 Ros won the MedTech SuperConnector and QMUL Life Sciences Initiative awards to accelerate the commercial development of her research; and most recently an Innovate UK Smart grant that lead to the formation of a spinout company called Keratify. In addition, Ros continues to lecture at QMUL, where she collaborates with researchers across the UK to assess inflammatory and metabolic processes in psoriasis and dandruff, identify triggers of transplant rejection and assess technology for healing chronic wounds.
She is dedicated to creating advanced human skin models to tackle the hardest challenges in dermatology that could never be resolved with animal models.
Dr Dania Movia is a Senior Research Fellow of Trinity College Dublin. She is part of the Laboratory for Biological Characterisation of Advanced Materials (LBCAM) at the Trinity Translational Medicine Institute (TTMI), associated with the Trinity St James’s Cancer Institute. She received her PhD at Trinity College Dublin in 2012, and subsequently she was awarded a Special Purpose Certificate in Academic Practice by the same university in 2018.
Dr Movia champions the reduction/replacement of animal testing via research and training of young scientists. Her current research work focuses on developing non-animal methodologies (NAMs) that can replace animal studies in lung cancer and lung toxicity research.
Dr Movia is a member of several professional bodies and organisations, which include the Irish Lung Cancer Alliance (ILCA) and the Scientific Advisory Panel of Animal-Free Research UK. She has received funding from several organisations including the Irish Research Council, the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, and the European Union’s H2020 Framework Programme. She has authored more than 40 peer-reviewed publications, and she acts as Guest Editor in “Animals” (MDPI) and “Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol.” (Frontiers) journals. She is currently editing a book for the book series Methods in Molecular Biology, published by Springer Nature.
Dr Tomasz Kostrzewski is Director of Biology at CN Bio with more than 15 years of experience in molecular and cellular biology research.
Prior to joining CN Bio, he worked at Imperial College London in the Department of Life Sciences studying immune cell development and stem cell differentiation.
At Imperial College London he completed both an MRes and PhD in the department of Cell and Molecular Biology. He has significant experience in advanced (3D) mammalian cell culture, organ-organ crosstalk and immune cell regulation. Additionally, he has experience of working in biopharmaceutical drug discovery and development with GlaxoSmithKline. As Director of Biology at CN Bio, Tomasz is responsible for biological model development and collaborative research projects. Tomasz has published more than eight peer-reviewed scientific articles and patents in the last three years.
I graduated from the University of Reading with a BSc Biochemistry and an MRes Biomedical Research. During this time, my research was focused toward the problem of obesity and adipose tissue dysfunction.
After a brief stint as a lab technician and a researcher in the Adipocyte Biology group at Exeter, I joined Professor Lorna Harries’ lab, Team RNA, to study the mechanisms by which our cells “age”. During my PhD I am hoping to use drug repurposing, rational small molecule design and artificial intelligence to attempt to find new compounds that affect cellular senescence.
I am privileged to be the first student in Exeter’s Animal Free Research UK Animal Replacement Centre (ARC2.0). This funding is designed to give students an early career path rooted in research that doesn’t use any animals or animal-derived products. It enables me to find and showcase alternative animal-free ways of researching while producing better and kinder science.
Eamon Connor Faulkner, is a PhD student at the University of Hull and a member of the Endothelial cell biology health GDP PhD cluster.
He began his research career as a summer scholarship student with Animal Free Research UK in summer 2018. He graduated from the University of Hull with a BSc First Class Honours in Biomedical Science. Eamon is currently in the final year of his PhD at the University of Hull studying lung fibrosis. He is an associate member of the Royal Society of Biology , a member of the British Association for Lung Research and a member of the European Respiratory Society.
His interests include primary human endothelial cell biology, bioinformatics, next generation sequencing and development of fully humanised in vitro models for studying lung fibrosis.
Clara Daudre-Vignier completed her MEng in General Engineering at the University of Warwick in 2019.
Clara is currently a 3rd year PhD student in Medicine at the University of Nottingham. Her PhD focuses on the computational modelling of human organs, using and further developing a high-fidelity, highly integrated computational simulation suite of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems to 1) better understand the pathophysiology of cardiac arrest and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), 2) develop more effective CPR strategies tailored to the subject and precipitating aetiology and 3) reduce the usage of animals in research.
Merlin’s research currently concerns coronavirus as a PhD student. This includes linking viral load to COVID-19 severity, and further developing a test to determine whether presence of the virus in a patient is still infectious.
Merlin started as a lab technician during the pandemic which eventually became a full time PhD funded by Animal Free Research UK and a generous University of Exeter alumuna. This project has evolved to include determining any links between immunosenescence and disease severity.
Merlin studied BSc medical sciences at the University of Exeter, and is looking to embark on a career in novel molecular biology research, relating to ageing and infectious diseases whilst incorporating animal free techniques.
Dr Gehad Youssef is a postdoctoral scientist in machine learning and computational biology in Dr Namshik Han’s group at the Milner Therapeutics Institute in Cambridge. His focus is on developing machine learning approaches to multi-omics next-generation sequencing (NGS) datasets, interrogating biological networks and drug repurposing.
Previously he was a postdoctoral scientist in Dr Adrian Biddle Lab (ARC, Blizard Institute, Queen Mary) researching cancer stem cell heterogeneity in oral and breast cancer using 2D and 3D in vitro models. His time at the ARC involved identifying plastic EMT stem cells in FFPE tissue, deriving these cells from patient biopsies and using machine learning to create a classifier to predict recurrence using protein expression derived from immunofluorescence staining.
Gehad obtained a BSc in molecular genetics from King’s College London (KCL) then his masters (MRes in Biomedicine) at University College London (UCL). Gehad then did his PhD at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health in the laboratory of Dr Ryan O’Shaughnessy to investigate signalling pathways in autosomal recessive congenital ichthyosis. Gehad also spend time in Professor John Anderson’s laboratory working with Dr Ximena Montano to evaluate prognostic markers in neuroblastoma and at the UCL Cancer Institute investigating the role of DNA methyltransferases in embryonic stem cells.
After completing her BSc in Biochemistry & Pharmacology at Leeds University, followed by a PhD and postdoctoral research in Genetic Toxicology at Swansea University, Dr Turner worked for Amersham Biosciences, subsequently GE Healthcare Life Sciences. Her roles included Development Scientist, Project Leader, Global Product Manager and Product Management Operations Leader, focussed on drug discovery and investigative toxicity testing within pharma. At GE Healthcare, she directed the development of stem cell derived cardiomyocytes for early cardiotoxicity screening and participated in the FDA’s CiPA initiative. Jan joined Safer Medicines Trust in January 2019, to focus on her passion for human-relevant biomedical research to better understand disease and deliver safer medicines.
Dr. Jonathan Sheard is an Application Scientist with UPM Biomedicals, focusing on 3D cell culture products and application development. Before working with UPM Biomedicals, he got his Ph.D. in biomedical sciences at Aston University, Birmingham, in 2016 followed by two years of independent post-doctoral research work at Reading University, Berkshire, UK.
Professor Martin J D Clift is an Associate Professor of in vitro systems/particle and fibre toxicology at Swansea University Medical School. He is globally recognised for his research of using advanced in vitro lung models to assess the inhalation toxicology of varying particulates and fibres. He focusses upon deducing the particle-lung cell interaction and relating this towards understanding the particles’ mechanistic toxicology, as well as immune response, both in healthy and diseased models. More recently, he has focussed his efforts on establishing advanced 3D, dynamic moving in vitro models that better represent the complexity of the lower airways. Using such models, combined with next-level testing strategies and exposure approaches, Clift has further initiated investigation of combined exposure events to better consider real world exposure patterns and effects. Clift has received research income of >£4.8million as principle investigator, and >£3.2million as co-investigator since 2010. Clift has >140 publications (h-index 34 (i10-index 62); citations >4495) within the field of particle/fibre toxicology and the particle-cell interaction in vitro and is currently supervising ten post-graduate students (with 14 graduates since 2011) in this field of study. Clift is Editor-in-Chief for Fibres, an Associate Editor for Journal of Nanobiotechnology, as well as an editorial board member of Particle and Fibre Toxicology, Mutagenesis, Food and Chemical Toxicology, as well as In Vitro Methods. Clift has been an expert panel member of the British NC3Rs working group upon Nanotoxicology and is currently the Chair of the UK Animal Alternative Technologies (UKAAT) society. Clift is a member of the British Toxicology Society (BTS) Sub-Scientific Committee, as well as the Scientific Board of Animal Free Research (AfR). In addition, Clift is the Chair of ‘Alternative Models’ for the EU NanoSafety Cluster. Clift has also recently been elected as Full Member to the UK Government Committee of Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) and is the Scientific Chair of the next BOHS sponsored Inhaled Particles Conference (in 2022).
I graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Science in 2015 and obtained my PhD in dental research in 2020 from the University of Plymouth. My PhD spanned the fields of cell biology, microbiology, immunology, and tissue engineering, whereby I developed and characterised immunocompetent tissue-engineered models of the oral mucosa, to study host-response to oral pathogens. I have a passion for both health and social care and since the completion of my PhD I have worked both within the residential childcare care sector and for the NHS in the Haematology department of Derriford combined laboratories. I am keen to contribute to scientific understanding and patient care through my work. I have broad research interests that are underpinned by the common theme of developing and utilising in vitro models to gain a more in-depth understanding of pathology at both the cellular and molecular level. Currently I am working with team RNA at the University of Exeter developing an animal-free organotypic retinal model for the study of diabetic complications.
Riddhi a third year Pharmacology student at University of Bath, currently completing her placement year at the UK Health Security Agency, working on neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The project will be presenting is an epigenetic tool for use in Parkinson’s disease.
A Biology Undergraduate at Sheffield Hallam University with an aim to pursue a career in research. Participated in a Summer Studentship funded by Animal Free Research UK, the project aimed to reduce the need for mice in cancer research using 3D cell culture models.
Izzy is a final year Pharmacologist from the University of Liverpool hoping to continue with further education for a career in drug research. Izzy’s experience with Animal Free Research UK being part of this years Summer Student Programme has broadened her awareness of ethical science, which she will strive to incorporate in future projects.
Malcolm retired as CEO of Kirkstall Ltd. in 2019 and is now working on research to replace the use of animals. Previously after senior roles in both R&D and marketing he founded a Cambridge Consulting company which supported spin-outs from Universities raise finance.
He lectured on Biomedical Engineering for 10 years and is now a Visiting Professor at Sheffield University.
He is co-author on papers on in-vitro models and editor of a book on Microphysiological Systems.
Christian received his doctorate from the Charite Universitätsmedizin Berlin in 2010. In the same year he joined Aptuscan Ltd. (now Avacta) in Leeds, where he generated the first StefinA phage libraries. In 2011 he moved to the University of Leeds to set up the BioScreening Technology Group. Today he runs the Screening facility.