Sue Gibbs receives lifetime achievement award for non-animal scientific research

December 13, 2023

Sue Gibbs, professor of Regenerative medicine, received the Willy van Heumen Prize on December 12 for her dedication to non-animal scientific research throughout her career. This award is presented every 10 years. Gibbs is nationally and internationally recognized as an innovator and advocate for non-animal scientific research.

Within regenerative medicine, Gibbs specializes in the skin and mucous membranes. She works as Principal Investigator at Amsterdam UMC/VU in the department of Molecular cell biology and at the Oral cell biology section of the Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam (ACTA). Throughout her 30-year career, Gibbs has been actively involved in the successful development of non-animal therapies and testing strategies with enthusiasm and in various ways. She receives and has received national and international recognition for her crucial role as an innovator and advocate for non-animal scientific research, as evidenced by previously won awards: Lef in het Lab (2015) and the Lush prize (2020).

In her research, Gibbs has long been engaged in the development of skin organoids (cultivated ‘mini-organs’) as a means of conducting non-animal research. She is also a co-founder of the TPI Helpathon program, focused on devising non-animal research solutions from the (government) program Transitie Proefdiervrije Innovatie (TPI). Gibbs shares her expertise, for example, with the British National Centre for the Replacement, Reduction and Refinement of Animals in Research (NC3R’s). Additionally, she has extensive experience in speaking to a broad audience, tirelessly promoting the awareness of animal testing and the opportunities presented by alternative techniques.

In recent years, Sue Gibbs has increasingly dedicated her attention to education, where she informs bachelor and master students, PhD candidates and post-doctoral researchers about non-animal research. This motivates a broad group of (future) researchers to use non-animal methods in cell biology and immunology. “It’s a challenge, but that’s fun,” says Gibbs. “Scientists like a challenge!”

3 V’s
In the (government) program Transitie naar Proefdiervrije Innovatie (TPI), it is crucial to develop research models that mimic the human body and diseases as closely as possible. In the shift to non-animal research, the so-called 3 V’s – based on the British NC3R’s – are essential: Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement of the use of animals in experiments. The Willy van Heumen Foundation supports and stimulates research into this with a biennial prize and a decennial lifetime achievement award. During the Ambition versus Realism event, Sue Gibbs received this award in the form of a statuette, medal, certificate, and a sum of €15,000 that she can use freely for research.

Watch the IXA video in which Sue Gibbs explains how her research has been creating a lasting impact.