Liesbet Geris receives an ERC grant for her BRIDGE project
Liesbet GERIS, a researcher at the GIGA research centre and professor in the School of Engineering, has just been awarded an ERC Starting Grant, funded by the European Research Council. His BRIDGE project - Biomimetic process design for tissue regeneration: from bench to bedside via in silico modeling - aims to apply engineering models to the biomedical field of tissue regeneration. The BRIDGE project has a budget of 1.2 million euros over a five-year period.
Tissue engineering is the interdisciplinary field which combines biomedical and engineering sciences in the search to replace sick or malfunctioning organs by living implants. Despite two decades of research, tissue engineering is faced with problems regarding the quantity and the quality of the generated products. The protocols and procedures followed in the laboratories are primarily based on trial and error; they require a huge amount of manual interventions and lack clear early time-point quality criteria to guide the process. As a result, these processes are very hard to scale up to industrial production levels.
The BRIDGE project, which Liesbet Geris has been developing since 2011, together with the Catholic University of Leuven, aims at applying the methods of in silico modeling (computational) to the biomedical field of tissue regeneration, and more specifically that of bone tissue. It is a question of understanding better the biomimetic processes at work, of stimulating them in silico in order to, eventually, control them in vivo in innovative healthcare protocols for the patients.
The BRIDGE project is in particular aiming at:
- The proof-of-concept of the use of an in silico blue-print for the design and control of modular and robust manufacturing processes.
- The in silico identification of a limited set of in vitro biomarkers, which is predictive for in vivo bone formation.
- Optimised culture conditions derived from models to increase the modular robustness of in vitro processes and the quality and quantity of in vivo results.
- The incorporation of congenital defects (niche patients) in the in silico design of manufacturing processes, constituting an extra validation of BRIDGE’s in silico approach and a necessary step to achieve personalised healthcare.
‘The research in tissue engineering on the one hand, and in the mathematical modelling of biological processes on the other, have progressed over the last two decades. With the BRIDGE project we are integrating them for the first time in a systematic manner in order to design and control the processes of bone tissue engineering,’ states Liesbet Geris.
The BRIDGE project, begun in December 2011, has been granted funds of 1,191,440 Euros for a duration of five years. Two doctoral students are working on the modelling part of the project; a postdoctoral researcher and a laboratory technician are developing the experimental aspects together with the Catholic University of Leuven.
ERC Starting Grant
ERC Grants are major instruments deployed by the European Research Council to fund research projects in Europe. The procedure, extremely selective, selects only the best researchers and research projects of the highest level, combining audacity and competence to tackle new research avenues likely, in the event of success, to substantially enrich knowledge.
There are 5 types of grants: Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants, Advanced Grants, Synergy Grants and Proof of Concept
Sarting ERC grants are designed to help young researchers (2-7 years of experience since completing their PhD) with a very promising scientific record and excellent research proposal