BINDER Innovation Prize for Meri Huch

New MPI-CBG research group leader receives prize for outstanding cell biological research

Meri Huch, currently research group leader at the at the Wellcome Trust/ Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge and new research group leader at the MPI-CBG, received the BINDER Innovation Prize 2019 today during a ceremony at the Fall Conference of the German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the German Society for Cell Biology (DGZ). The award is given for outstanding cell biological research with a focus on cell culture or the use of cell cultures. Meri wins this year's award for her world-leading research on 'Liver organoids for the study of liver biology and disease'.

Meri began her postdoctoral career in Hans Clevers' lab at the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht, the Netherlands, where she isolated, for the first time, the stem cells responsible for the rapid turnover of the adult stomach. She proved that these adult stomach stem cells can be maintained and expanded in culture, forming “mini-stomach” structures in vitro. She then moved her research to the understanding of the role and replicative potential of liver progenitor cells during liver regeneration. She found that liver progenitors can be expanded without limit in vitro and can be used as a source of liver tissue for future cell therapy interventions for liver diseases. Meri also showed that adult pancreas cells can be expanded long-term in vitro, a first for pancreatic research.

In February 2014 Meri started her own lab at the Wellcome Trust/ Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge, to study stem cells and tissue regeneration and their implication in cancer formation. Since then she has made very important contributions to our understanding of liver development, regeneration and disease, including the creation of patient-specific liver 'tumouroids'. On 1st October Meri Huch moves to the MPI-CBG, as one of the first recipients of the Lise Meitner Excellence Program from the Max Planck Society.

The BINDER Innovation Prize, endowed with EUR 4000, was founded by BINDER GmbH, the world's largest specialist in simulation chambers for scientific and industrial laboratories. The annual prize has been awarded since 1998 by the DGZ. One previous winner is Stephan Grill, Director at MPI-CBG, who received the BINDER Innovation Award in 2013.