Altertox went to meet 10 Young scientists to know more about their activities, vision of science and how they bring research and innovation using New Approach Methodologies (NAMs)!
How did your story with toxicology begin?
Long story short, I got a scholarship from Wageningen University and Research (WUR) to follow a Master study in Molecular Life Sciences where I then had the opportunity to do my MSc thesis and internship at the Division of Toxicology, WUR, thus got me acquainted with toxicology. During my MSc study, I got my hands on several types of assays for in vitro toxicity testing of marine toxins and highly complex substances. Back then, I didn’t know that I would really like it, but that’s how it was started and now I can never go back, and I do like it actually! ”
What is the current hot topic for your lab?
to gain insight into the mechanisms via which toxic compounds can induce adverse effects on the health of humans and other environmental organisms. This includes work on the translation of the obtained in vitro results to the in vivo situation, which can be obtained with the help of physiologically based kinetic (PBPK) modelling. Recently, we also explore the role of gut microbiota in the toxicity of foodborne chemicals, which is very interesting. In my case, I work especially on alternative testing strategies for assessing potential reproductive and developmental toxicity of chemicals and highly complex substances (UVCBs). ”
What drives you/motivates you to do research under the 3Rs topic?
“My awareness about 3Rs arisen during my MSc thesis and internship, knowing how much animals need to be sacrificed for assessing various toxicity endpoints. Since then, I gained so much interest and became involved in the field of the development and application of alternative testing strategies, in particular for developmental toxicity testing that I successfully applied in my PhD study. It is not an easy task and I face so many challenges along the way. However, I realize how big is the contribution I may add to future New Approach Methodologies if my testing-strategy works as expected. So, I see these challenges as positives opportunities for growth and this motivates me to work harder!”
Are there things to change?
First I would say that improvement could be done related to the communication between stakeholders, like industries, academia, and regulators to make sure that we are all on the same page in dealing with this animal-free testing future. It is not about a lack of information, because Information is there, it’s more about agreement on which way is the best (and pragmatic) to take. Encouraging Open discussion and faster communication would definitely help. Last but not least, I would say that continuous education and training also play an important role. This may enable one to update the knowledge and facilitate broader and creative thinking.”
What is next in science ?
“I feel that there will be more usage and development of Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to support different kinds of research areas including toxicology. I also like very much the idea of 3D Cell and Tissue bioprinting so then it’s possible to engineer tissues to recreate functional (mini) organs in the lab.”
What are your future professional expectations?
“I enjoy working as an independent researcher but also as a part of a multidisciplinary team. In long term, I must say that I would like to join a platform where I could share my passion for the use of alternatives to animal testing to fill in the data gaps for hazard and safety assessment. In the near future, I would like to make a switch from the academic environment to a career in industry and helping to create a greater impact. ”
Follow Dr. Lenny Kamelia