Amsterdam Neuroscience Associate professor Vivi Heine, appointed at Emma Children's Hospital, has been awarded the Open Competition Domein Science grant by the Dutch Research Council (NWO). Her grant of 700,000 euro will be used for the development of 3D cell-instructive engineered stem cell models of human brain networks.

Together with Dr. Angelo Accardo, an expert in microengineering at Delft University of Technology, Heine will explore 3D biomaterials fostering human brain-in-dish cultures.

3D biomaterials fostering human mini-brains 

Recent developments in the stem cell and organoid field provided new tools to study cellular mechanisms in the healthy and diseased brain. However, these model systems lack structural and biochemical properties of the 3-dimensional microenvironment that majorly influence cellular and network properties. By combining expertise in developmental neurobiology and microfabrication, we aim to engineer multi-scale brain-inspired 3D scaffolds to mature induced pluripotent stem cells into neural cultures of healthy subjects and patients. This integrated approach can be potentially used to ‘diagnose’ patient cell phenotypes and to screen compounds for the treatment of disease.