Professor Zhen Ma Receives 2017 Lush Prize for Young Researcher (Americas)

Assistant Professor, Zhen Ma was a 2017 Young Researcher Lush Prize Winner.  He was one of five awarded this prize

The Lush Prize rewards initiatives across science and campaigning that work to end or replace animal testing, particularly in the area of toxicology research.

Now in their sixth year, they have awarded £1.8 million in prizes, aiming to bring forward the day when safety testing takes place without the use of animals.

They seek to reward those working on replacing, rather than reducing or refining animal experiments.

Find out more about the Lush Prize.

Read more.


Ma’s award was for his work titled, “Human Developing Heart Model for Animal-Free Embryotoxicity Drug Screening”

It has been reported that nearly one out of every 20 women using antidepressants three months before becoming pregnant or during the pregnancy. Deciding to continue or stop using antidepressants during pregnancy is one of the hardest decisions a woman must make. There has been a long ongoing debate about whether the use of antidepressants during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of congenital defects.

The embryotoxicity studies for preclinical drug development have been suffering from limited human studies and short of standardized assays to screen and classify the drug embryotoxicity before clinical trials. My research career focuses on the development of human-specific embryotoxicity testing model system based on human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) to replace the animal-based studies, and this screening system can provide more precise assessment of human-specific drug effect on fetus development.

My project for this Lush Prize focuses on the establishment and validation of a developing heart model that recapitulates early human heart formation in a tissue culture dish. Using this heart model, I aim to establish a risk classification system of safe pregnancy medication for fetus heath, and further rank the embryotoxicity risk level of current available antidepressants in market.

Professor Lisa Manning receives Maria Goeppert Mayer award


The American Physical Society (APS) has awarded Prof. Lisa Manning the 2018 Maria Goeppert Mayer Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement by a woman physicist in the early years of her career. This recognition, granted to one physicist each year since 1986, includes both a cash award and support for public lectures at up to four institutions. Prof. Manning is also invited to present her work at the national APS March Meeting in 2018. The citation notes that the award is “for her use of computational and analytical tools to develop microscopic understanding of flow in disordered materials, ranging from metallic glasses to biological tissues.”

Paper accepted in the New Journal of Physics

David YllanesMarco Leoni, and Cristina Marchetti’s paper was accepted in the New Journal of Physics on September 25, 2017. 

The accepted manuscript titled, “How many dissenters does it take to disorder a flock?” can be found here.