Scientific prize

Liesbet Geris, winner of one of five AstraZeneca Awards 2021


Liesbet Geris, head of the biomechanical engineering laboratory within the In silico Medicine unit (GIGA), and a professor at the School of Engineering (Department of Aerospace and Mechanics), is the winner of one of five AstraZeneca Awards. The award is given for her research into the development of new in silico strategies (using numerical models) in the field of tissue engineering.

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ach year, the Astra Zeneca Foundation supports the research of four researchers. This year, the disciplines honored are rare diseases, telemedicine in the treatment of respiratory problems, oncology and children's mental health.

The winners of the AstraZeneca Foundation Awards are chosen independently by a jury from the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS) and the Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO). In the category "New strategies in regenerative medicine", the jury chose to reward the research of Professor Liesbet Geris for ULiège. 

For some patients who have had a tumor removed, have had an accident or suffer from neurofibromatosis, bone or cartilage implants are sometimes indispensable. The same is true for patients who need a dental implant but no longer have enough bone to attach it. A biomaterial of the appropriate size is implanted. It then has to attract cells that form new tissue that will allow it to integrate into the patient's body. 

To improve the chances of success, Professor Liesbet Geris (ULiège) is researching a new kind of biomaterial. By creating numerical models based on thousands of data from previous transplants, she and her team have pushed the boundaries of regenerative medicine: "We started by determining what cells like and where they grow best," she explains. It's very clear that they like the corners, they feel very comfortable there. They also need to be able to get oxygen to them. 

With her team and the clinicians with whom she collaborates, the researcher has created a new type of biomaterial optimized to allow better rooting in the patient's body: "We have developed a particular shape, easy to 3D print, in a material found in bones, calcium phosphate," she explains. The results of animal experiments have shown us that, thanks to this specific shape, cells from the outside are much more attracted to this biomaterial than to those currently used. 

A first clinical trial should start next year to test these findings on a larger scale. 

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