Dr. Volker M. Lauschke, Karolinska Institutet

Topic: Chemogenomic screening in organotypic and microphysiological patient-derived 3D cultures - towards reliable drug target identification in metabolic diseases

Volker M. Lauschke (V.M.L.) is Professor and group leader in Translational Pharmacology at Karolinska Institutet (KI), Stockholm, Sweden and Deputy Director of the Institute of Clinical Pharmacology (IKP) in Stuttgart, Germany. His research group engineers organotypic and microphysiological human tissue models to develop novel therapeutic strategies for inflammatory conditions (NASH), infectious diseases (COVID-19 and hemorrhagic fevers) and complex metabolic diseases (type 2 diabetes).

V.M.L. has authored over 140 papers in peer-reviewed journals and is the recipient of multiple awards in the area of genetics, pharmacology and drug discovery, including the Lennart Philipson Prize 2017, the AAPS High Impact Award 2020 and the ISSX Karl Netter Award 2023. Furthermore, he is a Clarivate Highly Cited Researcher 2022 in Pharmacology (1 of 3 in Sweden). Besides his academic work, he is co-founder and CEO of HepaPredict AB, a biotech company offering 3D human liver models for drug discovery and development, as well as co-founder and CSO of PersoMedix AB, offering services for personalized drug response predictions.


Dr. Tuula Heinonen, Tampere University

Topic: The use and acceptance of in-vitro alternative methods (NAMS) in regulatory science now and future perspective

Professor Heinonen, Ph.D.  is an European Registered toxicologist having extensive theoretical education and over 25 years´ experience in drug and diagnostic development in industry and academia on mechanistic research, test method and testing strategy development, on method validation and GLP, on drug safety including molecular and animal toxicology and on project management. In pharma industry she has been working in various positions such as R&D director, project management, department head, study director for GLP- and non-GLP studies, and being responsible for whole drug development plan and especially for planning, executing and reporting animal and in vitro toxicological, drug safety and mechanistic investigations for new small molecules and biologicals according to the relevant regulatory requirements. In addition to non-clinical (52) studies she has been responsible for clinical (3) studies in antimicrobial field. Professor Heinonen has participated in pre-IND, NDA and scientific consultation meetings at FDA, EMA and some European pharmaceutical regulators. The therapy areas cover cardiovascular, neuronal, anti-infective, cancer and HRT. The scientific research is published in 75 international peer reviewed journals, 9 peer reviewed articles in scientific and conference books, 5 non-refereed scientific articles. 

Further, she has also been responsible to set up and be a director of OECD-GLP laboratories in pharma industry and academia (The Finnish Centre for Alternative Methods, FICAM). Professor Heinonen is the Finland´s PARERE person for EURL-ECVAM.


Dr. Mayoura Keophiphath, Diva Expertise

Topic: DIVA-Caps, a long-term and in vitro three-dimensional drug screening model for Obesity, Aging and related metabolic complications

Mayoura KEOPHIPHATH is the founder and the CEO of the French BioTech DIVA EXPERTISE, a Global Leader in the Applied Research on Human Adipose Tissue.

With a doctorate in physiology and physiopathology and an engineering degree in nutraceuticals, Mayoura has developed a large expertise and know-how in the biology of human adipose tissue and in the preclinical and clinical evaluation of health, beauty and well-being products. Promoting and Valorizing Research and Entrepreneurship are real challenges that she wanted to bring together by creating DIVA EXPERTISE whose aim is to develop deep innovative biological models and to support Health, Nutrition and Cosmetics industries in their Research and Development of efficient products.


Dr. Thomas Lundbäck, AstraZeneca

Topic: TBA

Dr. Thomas Lundbäck is currently a Director within the Discovery Sciences organisation at AstraZeneca R&D. Thomas is a drug discovery professional with more than two decades of experience in the field of assay development, compound profiling, and detailed mechanism of action studies in a broad range of different biochemical and cellular assay formats. Having worked between pharmaceutical industry and academia, Thomas is currently responsible for a team of scientists in the Mechanistic and Structural Biology department, the mission of which is to support the therapeutic area organizations with SAR profiling, early DMPK and safety profiling and structure and biophysics. Thomas is also chairman of the steering group for Chemical Biology Consortium Sweden, where he worked between 2010-2016. It was in this setting he encountered the cellular thermal shift assay (CETSA) and played a key role in the addition of high throughput screening capacity to this technology.


Dr. Kaylene Simpson, Victorian Centre for Functional Genomics

Topic: TBA

Associate Professor Kaylene Simpson heads the Victorian Centre for Functional Genomics at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne Australia and holds a joint appointment with the Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacology, University of Melbourne. She completed her BSc (Hons) at Monash University in plant science (1992) and spent 3 years as a research assistant at Florigene Pty Ltd (blue rose company) before undertaking a PhD in lactation and mammary gland biology at the Victorian Institute of Animal Science (1998). Her first postdoc was a shared appointment with Prof Melissa Brown (Uni Melb) and Profs Jane Visvader and Geoff Lindeman (WEHI) where she studied BRCA1 dependent breast cancer and developed the methodology that led to the identification of mammary gland stem cells. In 2002 she moved to Boston as a senior postdoc and then Instructor in the Dept Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School in the lab of Prof Joan Brugge.

Returning to Melbourne in 2008 to head the VCFG, she has built a team of highly skilled research assistants and postdocs who enable researchers to perform unbiased target discovery using high throughput approaches including CRISPR, RNAi and compound screening in both 2D and 3D underpinned by sophisticated cell phenotyping using high content imaging. The VCFG team customise analysis for each specific project. Kaylene is a strong advocate for alternate career paths and is a formal and informal mentor to many researchers.


Dr. Doris Wilflingseder, Medical University of Innsbruck

Topic: The breathtaking world of animal-free and immune-competent respiratory barrier models

After studying biology/zoology at the Leopold-Franzens-University of Innsbruck and my PhD at the Institute of Theoretical Surgery, I started working on host-pathogen interactions as a post-doc at the Institute for Hygiene and Medical Microbiology at the Medical University of Innsbruck (MUI). After a stay abroad in 2008/2009 at University College London, I set up my work group at the Institute for Hygiene and Medical Microbiology with third-party funding and have been successfully working for many years with my group (immunology and cell biology) on host-pathogen interactions and infection susceptibility within 3D models.

We lay a special focus on the use of relevant, human 3D cell culture systems and primary cells in order to simulate the course of an infection as 'realistically as possible in the petri dish' and thus gain insights that are not revealed when using 2D cultures or degenerated cell lines. From 2012 to 2019, I worked as an associate professor and deputy director at the Institute of Hygiene and Medical Microbiology at MUI and have a university professorship in infection biology since 2020. Over the years, I have successfully acquired competitive third-party funding (FWF, NIH, ÖNB), have published continuously (48 publications in the last 5 years), am committed to teaching infectiology and immunology, and have a self-designed course on alternatives to animal experiments in biomedical research in the MUI curriculum to teach junior scientists on the opportunities of human-centered models.


Dr. Andris Abramenkovs, Sartorius

Topic: Maximizing the Potential of 3D Organoid Research with Live-Cell Imaging and Isolation

Andris Abramenkovs, PhD, is a dedicated product manager for the CellCelector platform, with a passion for streamlining and expediting cell isolation workflows. After joining Sartorius, Andris worked as a field application scientist, specializing in Incucyte® and iQue® technologies. During his PhD studies, Andris focused on DNA damage and repair mechanisms, demonstrating his expertise in the field