Organ-on-a-Chip Network and Emulate Proof of Concept Awards

Starting in 2020, the UK Organ-on-a-Chip Network and Emulate, Inc funded a Proof of Concept (PoC) Award scheme for members of the Network. The PoC awards were developed to enable academics to generate preliminary data to support future grant applications and further use of the Emulate platform. The initiative, generously supported by Emulate, consisted of approximately £100k of funding which was used to support multiple research projects and provide access to £150,000 of state-of-the-art organ-chip technology available at The Queen Mary+Emulate Organs-on-Chips Centre.

Emulate’s platform has been adopted by top biopharmaceutical companies, by U.S. governmental agencies, and by academic research centres worldwide. Researchers may develop new chip models or use Emulates current optimised organ models which include: LiverProximal Tubule KidneyBrainLungColon Intestine and Duodenum Intestine. The PoC Awards provide an exciting opportunity for members of the UK Organ-on-a-chip Network to engage with this technology. 

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This scheme has operated 3 initial PoC funding rounds providing the following.

  • 6 Blank Emulate Organ-Chips
  • Hands-on training using the Emulate Organ-chip platform 
  • Support to refine the proposed proof of concept experiment
  • Centre Scientist/Technician time to run the proof of concept experiment at the Queen Mary+Emulate Organs-on-Chips Centre

Each project PI was required to pay the access fee of c£600 which covered access to the Centre for the hand-on training and associated administration costs and some basic consumables. 

In the final round we wanted to fund a single larger, more comprehensive PoC study and provid this with: 

  • 18 Blank Emulate Organ-Chips  and support to refine the proposed experimental plan 

Award Round 4

Tuneable mechanical microenvironments for organ-chip models - a case study in bone

Principal investigator: Stefaan Verbruggen, Queen Mary University of London
Co-investigators: Hazel Screen, Queen Mary University of London

Award Round 3

Chip model of placental and fetal membranes to characterise damage caused by particles of air pollution

Principal investigator: Tina Chowdhury, Queen Mary University of London
Co-investigators: Stefaan Verbruggen, University of Sheffield
Jonathan Grigg, Queen Mary University of London
Anna David, University College London

Defining the interaction of nanomedicines with the small intestine

Principal investigator: Driton Vllasaliu, Kings College London
Co-investigators: Julia Mantaj, Anglia Ruskin University

Developing liver-on a chip models with primary human liver endothelial cells to test novel liver directed immunotherapies

Principal investigator: Shishir Shetty, University of Birmingham
Co-investigators: Peter Hewett, University of Birmingham

Impact of undernutrition-exposed monocytes on gut barrier function

Principal investigator: Claire Bourke, Queen Mary University of London
Co-investigators: Tafhima Haider, Queen Mary University of London

Investigating the pro-metastatic cross-talk between amoeboid cancer cells and tumour microenvironment in a cancer-on-chip model

Principal investigator: Victoria Sanz-Moreno, Queen Mary University of London
Co-investigators: Remi Samain, Queen Mary University of London

Towards a biomicrofluidic model of the enterocyte-lymphatic interface to study the intestinal transport of lipid-soluble drugs

Principal investigator: Nazila Kamaly, Imperial College London
Co-investigators: Oscar Ces, Imperial College London
Jake Samuel, Imperial College London

Award Round 2

Development of a human placental artery-on-a-chip to study placental vascular function in reproductive toxicology and pregnancy diseases

Principal investigator: Teresa Tropea, University of Manchester
Co-investigators: Paul Brownhill, University of Manchester
Virginia Pensabene, University of Leeds

Generation and validation of a urine-derived, personalised kidney-on-chip model for kidney disease and nephrotoxicity

Principal investigator: John Sayer, Newcastle University
Co-investigators: Elisa Molinari, Newcastle University

Investigating the role of tumour associated myeloid cells on malignant cell invasion in a metastatic high-grade serous ovarian cancer-on-chip model

Principal investigator: Fran Balkwill, Queen Mary University of London
Co-investigators: Mina Mincheva, Queen Mary University of London

Production and validation of a bovine lung-on-a-chip to study bovine respiratory diseases

Principal investigator: Mark Chambers, University of Surrey
Co-investigators: Diane Lee, University of Surrey
Geoff Smith, North Carolina State University
Ronald Baynes, North Carolina State University

Award Round 1

Advancing Human Synovial Joint Chips

Principal investigator: Karina Wright, Keele University
Co-investigators: Sally Roberts, Keele University
Charlotte Hulme, Keele University

Investigating the diagnostic and drug-screening potential of endothelial-tomesenchymal transition during liver fibrosis

Principal investigator: Neil Dufton, Queen Mary University of London
Co-investigators: James Whiteford, Queen Mary University of London

Modelling anti-fungal immunity in the human intestine

Principal investigator: Neil McCarthy, Queen Mary University of London
Co-investigators: Carol Munro, University of Aberdeen
Daniel Pennington, Queen Mary University of London