Main Coordinator: Technical University Eindhoven

Associate Prof. Dr. Regina Luttge combines principles of microfluidics, tissue engineering and electrophysiology into one Brain-on-Chip platform technology. Her core research interest is the design and control of micro- and nanofabrication methods for applications in biology (e.g., microfluidics-assisted bioreactors) and medical devices to tackle clinical questions on brain diseases and for neuropharmaceutical screening. CONNECT complements the translational relevance of her research by providing a unique novel vision of brining Brain-on-Chip technology towards the exploitation for investigating PD. 

Dr. Luttge is a recognized creative and talented scientist as demonstrated by her prolific multidisciplinary track record. She (co)authored more than 100 journal and conference publications, covering 6 main subject areas, such as Engineering, Material Science, Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, Chemical Engineering, Physics & Astronomy and Pharmacology, Toxicology, Pharmaceutics, together with over 100 co-authors. 

Consortium partners:

University of Luxembourg

 Professor Dr. Jens Schwamborn is an expert for stem cell biology and in vitro disease modelling. In particular he focused on the mechanisms that regulate neuronal differentiation. Furthermore, since about five years he is working on the in vitro modeling of Parkinson’s disease using human induced pluripotent stem cells. Over the last years he filed several patents and published more than 40 manuscripts. Some of his papers are published in the leading journals in the field including Cell, Cell Stem Cell, Stem Cell Reports and Nucleic Acids Research.

University of Sheffield

Professor Dr. Peter Andrews is a Arthur Jackson Professor at the Department of Biomedical sciences, UOS. He was associate professor at the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology in Philadelphia until he became a full professor at the UOS. Prof. Andrews is the director of the Pluripotent Stem Cell Platform (a Hub under the UKRMP) and the director of the Centre for Stem Cell Biology. Also, he was the co-ordinator of the International Stem Cell Initiative. He was also co-founder and director of Axordia Ltd., a university spin-out company (now a subsidiary of Pfizer). Prof. Andrews published over 200 scientific articles. His research interests are in the biology of human embryonic stem cells and their malignant counterparts from Teratocarcinomas. He has been and currently is involved in several EU-funded projects with the main focus on the development of stem cell technologies.

Dr. Anestis Tsakiridis is an ambitious young investigator. He graduated in Biochemistry and Life Sciences from the University of Edinburgh in 2002 and received a PhD from the same university in 2006. In 2006-2009 Dr. Tsakiridis was Postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Stem Cell Research (University of Edinburgh) and between 2009-2015 at the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine (University of Edinburgh). Since 2016, Dr. Tsakiridis is the group leader at the Centre for Stem Cell Biology at the USO. His research interests are in the field of stem cell potency in development and disease and he is currently working on modelling embryonic axis elongation in vitro. He has been successful in obtaining external funding for his research (e.g. BBSRC: New Investigator Grant,  Royal Society Research grant and Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group/Little Princess Trust pilot research grant).

Aalto University

Professor Dr. Sami Franssila received his BSc and MSc degrees in physics from the University of Helsinki, and PhD degree from the School of Electrical Engineering, Helsinki University of Technology, with a thesis on plasma etching. He was a Research Scientist with the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) Microelectronics from 1986 to 1998 and with IMEC, Belgium, in 1993–1994. He has been with the Helsinki University of Technology (renamed Aalto University in 2010) since 1998, where he is currently at the Department of Chemistry and Materials Science. He has worked on CMOS, MEMS, thin films, nanotechnology, and microfluidics. He is the holder of five patents and has authored or co-authored over 150 original peer-reviewed journal articles, 5 review articles, 5 book chapters (H-index 40). He is the author of successful textbook Introduction to Microfabrication (2nd edition, John Wiley, 2010) and editor of Handbook of silicon based MEMS materials and technologies (Elsevier, 2nd edition, 2015). He is currently a Professor of materials science, with research interests in materials and fabrication technologies for chemical and biological micro- and nanodevices. 

Professor Dr. Tomi Laurila received the DSc. degree (with honours) in electronics production technology from the Helsinki University of Technology in 2001. The thesis was focused on the solid-state reactions in different metal/silicon systems and development of feasible diffusion barriers to be used in Cu metallized IC’s. At the moment he is Associate Professor in the field of Microsystem technology and holds an adjunct professorship on Electronics Reliability and Manufacturing. Presently his research involves the study of interfacial reactions between dissimilar materials used in microsystems, biocompatibility issues related to different types of materials and electrochemical measurements of neurotransmitters from the brain. He has published extensively on the thermodynamic-kinetic analysis of interfacial reactions and issues related to reliability testing of electronic devices. Prof. Laurila is also responsible for the teaching of material science, electronics reliability and bioadaptive technology to under- and post-graduate as well as postdoctoral students.

KU Leuven

Prof. Dr. Pieter Vanden Berghe is the head of the Lab for Enteric NeuroScience (LENS) in the Chrometa department of KU Leuven. The lab is part of TARGID (Translational Research Center for Gastrointestinal Disorders) that integrates gastrointestinal research over a broad spectrum, ranging from cellular assays over physiological tests in isolated organs and animal experiments to trials in healthy volunteers and patients with GI disorders. Prof. Vanden Berghe obtained his PhD in Leuven and did a postdoc in the University of Nevada and the Max-Planck institute in Göttingen. After postdoc stays abroad he became an independent PI at the LENS. The LENS mission is to understand how the enteric nervous system functions in normal and pathophysiological conditions and as the lab acronym suggests we mainly use (live) microscopic techniques to image different aspects of communication among enteric nerves and between nerves and glial cells physiological and pathophysiological conditions. He also became the spokesperson and scientific coordinator of the CIC (Cell Imaging Core – Impulse financing 2004). Within the research field of neurogastroenterology, microscopic imaging has become a crucial and essential tool to investigate the function of the enteric nervous system resulting a several recent high impact (Science, eLife , JCI, Gut, Am.J.Gastro) publications. 

Erasmus MC

Professor Dr. Steven A. Kushner is Full Professor of Neurobiological Psychiatry at the Department of Psychiatry of Erasmus MC. He completed his undergraduate degree summa cum laude at the University of Pennsylvania, studied Medicine and Neuroscience through the National Institutes of Health – Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of California, Los Angeles and received clinical training as a psychiatrist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University, including board certification. His laboratory is focused on developing advanced human organ-on-chip models of neuropsychiatric diseases, using a combination of electrophysiology (patch-clamp, MEA), calcium imaging, stem cell engineering and brain organoid technology to uncover the pathophysiology of mental illness. He has received several honors and awards, including Journal Watch Psychiatry (NEJM Group) recognition for one of the 10 most influential papers in clinical Psychiatry (2012, 2015), the prestigious NWO Talent Scheme Vidi Award and Erasmus MC Desiderius Award. He is the coordinator of the Institute for human Organ and Disease Model Technologies (hDMT) brain-on-a-chip program, founding member of the ENCORE Center for Neurodevelopmental Disorders, co-Director of the Academic Center of Excellence for Population Neuroscience, executive committee member of the European Molecular and Cellular Cognition Society (EMCCS), and former Chair of the Dutch Neuroscience Meeting.(2016).

Dr. Femke M. S. de Vrij is assistant professor at the Department of Neurobiological Psychiatry at Erasmus MC. She received her Msc degree in Medical Biology from the University of Utrecht in 1999. As a PhD student, she worked on the molecular basis of Alzheimer’s disease at the Dutch Brain Institute (NIN) in Amsterdam and received her PhD from the University of Amsterdam in 2005. After a postdoc at the department of Clinical Genetics at the ErasmusMC, working on the neurobiology of Fragile X syndrome, she joined the Neurobiological Psychiatry group in February 2010 where she is now coordinating the induce pluripotent stem cell related projects.


FFUND is a young and ambitious Dutch SME that provides full service consultancy in project management, assistance in development of exploitation strategies, active communication, and dissemination and promotion activities, based on years of experience. FFUND combines scientific expertise and in-depth knowledge of project management with translational science and life science entrepreneurship. During the CONNECT project, FFUND aids in management and developing dissemination strategies. Moreover, FFUND plans for success continuation of the technology by securing follow-up funding throughout the complete value chain from the early start, through controlled growth, until a successful exit. FFUND will ask the tough questions to clear up any ambiguities and spot the innovative strengths, ultimately leading successful commercialization of the CONNECT platform.