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Dr Don Ingber, inaugural Animal Free Research Pioneer

Published on July 13, 2022

How can we elevate the perception of animal free research in the scientific community? And create role models for young researchers to aspire to at the same time?

These are questions I was mulling last year when Prof Mike Philpott of our Animal Replacement Centre – ARC 1.0 – got in touch to suggest Animal Free Research UK creates an annual scientific award to recognise researchers who have made a significant contribution to replacement science.

Fast forward a year – following a rigorous selection process and some exceptional nominations – and it was my absolute pleasure to present at our science conference this week, our inaugural Animal Free Research Pioneer Award to Dr Don Ingber, the founding director of Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

Don Ingber is a world class pioneer. In 2010, he developed a lung-on-a-chip – the first of its kind – and since then has continued to lead the field by developing numerous other organ chip models. These award-winning models have consistently demonstrated their ability to faithfully mimic human physiology and disease states as well as therapeutic responses.

His work has been pivotal to numerous breakthroughs, enabling technologies that are revolutionising research and serving as a solid platform for progress towards understanding human biology and disease.

This new award celebrates the achievements of scientists who drive forward medical research which replaces animals. And I can think of no one more innovative, more inspiring for our very first Pioneer Award.

To commemorate the award, we specially commissioned one of the UK’s oldest medal makers to design and make a beautiful bronze medal. In 1897 they produced the commemorative medals for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, so it really is quite special.

We hope this medal will become a prestigious annual award that elevates the perception of animal free research – and researchers – in the wider scientific community.  And ultimately contributes to the cultural shift where animal free research is considered the gold standard.

This award will also help to create role models for the next generation of medical researchers embarking on a scientific career centred on animal free innovation.  Animal Free Research Pioneers give them a standard to strive for.

Don Ingber’s work has led to major advances across diverse fields and is unlocking the answers to the many questions we still have about human health and disease. Don is a true pioneer and it is an honour to award him this first Animal Free Research Pioneer Award.



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