The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award winner 2020
Dr Sandra Coecke

Dr. Sandra Coecke, senior scientist at European Commission Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy, is the recipient of the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award for the year 2020 in recognition of her work on the development and validation of new in vitro cell- and tissue-based methods for in vitro toxicity testing for the replacement of animal experiments. Sandra Coecke is also highly recognized for her leading role in the development of the European Commission Joint Research Centre’s guidance document on Good Cell Culture Practice (GCCP) and the OECD’s guidance document on Good In Vitro Method Practices (GIVIMP).
In her award lecture, Dr. Coecke will present insights from her extensive work related to the development and validation of novel in vitro methods, how to promote best practices, and how we can strive to make our non-animal methods truly animal free.
Due to covid-19 restrictions the award will be presented 2021. The ceremony will be held at the 11th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences in Maastricht, The Netherlands, 22 - 26 August, 2021


The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award winner 2019
Jan Van Der ValkDr Jan van der Valk

Dr. Jan van der Valk, director of the 3Rs-Centre Utrecht Life Sciences at the faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, the Netherlands, is the recipient of the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award for the year 2019 in recognition of his persistent, engaged, informative, and reliable work based on facts in informing the scientific community about the concern of using fetal bovine serum in cell culture medium from an animal ethical view point as well as in the perspective of reproducibility issues. Jan van der Valk is also recognized for his efforts in establishing the fetal bovine serum free data base (fcs-free.org).

The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award winner 2018
Dr Anna Forsby

Associate professor Anna Forsby working at the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Stockholm University, Stockholm, and at the Swedish Toxicological Sciences Research Center (SWETOX), Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, is the recipient of the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award for the year 2018 in recognition of her scientific achievements in the field of cellular neurotoxicology and development of non-animal test methods.

Anna Forsby´s main research interest is to study mechanisms for chemically induced acute and sub-chronic neurotoxicity by using different neuronal cell models. The usefulness of the cell models for risk assessment is evaluated by integrating in vitro data derived from the cell models with historic in vivo data from rat and clinical observations from exposed human in predictions models. Furthermore, mechanisms for chemically induced nociception are studied in a recombinant neuronal cell model expressing the Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid (TRPV) ion channels. The latter research has resulted in the development and evaluation of a cell culture model that holds promise to replace the Draize eye irritation test that is criticized for its animal cruelty.

The Award will be handed over October 15 at the 20th International Congress on In Vitro Toxicology (ESTIV2018) taking place in Berlin, October 15-18, 2018.


The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award winner 2017
Professor Thomas Hartung

Professor Thomas Hartung from the Johns Hopkins University, the United States of America, is the recipient of the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award for the year 2017 in recognition of his scientific achievements in the development and evaluation of methods for risk assessment of toxic chemicals, without the use of experimental animals, and for his work as the Director of ECVAM (2002-2008) and the Director of CAAT (from 2009 until present).

Thomas Hartung did his PhD 1991 at the University of Konstanz (Germany) one year before the MD in 1992 at the University of Tuebingen (Germany), and still hold a professorship of pharmacology and toxicology. He has a broad research background in clinical and experimental pharmacology and toxicology. His early work centered on the immune recognition of bacteria, including pyrogen testing, and the induced inflammatory response. The pharmacological modulation of these responses was studied in experimental and clinical approaches. More recently, the work of Thomas Hartung has centered to find new strategies for toxicity testing in the 21st century.

In 2002 he became the head of the European Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) of the European Commission (2002-2008). Early 2009 T. Hartung relocated to the US and became the director for the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT). In addition, he established a laboratory for developmental neurotoxicity research based on genomics and metabolomics and respective technologies (2010).

Since 2009 the main goal of his work is toward a paradigm shift in toxicity testing to improve public health. He is involved in the implementation of the 2007 NRC vision document “Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century – a vision and a strategy”. He has brought the translation concept of the evidence-based medicine to toxicology (evidence-based toxicology). This aims for systematic assessment of the quality of all tools for regulatory toxicology and the development of new approaches based on annotated pathways of toxicity.

Professor Hartung has received several awards concerning alternative testing and animal welfare. Only to mention some of them: Russell & Burch award of Humane Society of the US (2009), Agilent Thought-Leader Award (2010), EuroGroup for Animals – Animal Welfare Award (2014) and LUSH Prize (2014). He has published more than 500 articles in peer-review journals.

The Award will be handed over at the occasion of the ECOPA-SSCT Workshop 2017, June 14-16, Helsinki, Finland


The BEMF stipends 2016 were given to Chloe Raffalli and Karoline Buyl

The BEMF stipends 2016, financed together by BEMF and Willy and Berit Heymans Animal Protection Foundation, were given to two Ph.D. students to facilitate their participation in the ESTIV 2016 Congress:

Chloe Raffalli from Dept. of Immuno-toxicology, Paris-Sud University, France

Karoline Buyl from the Dept. of in vitro toxicology and dermato-cosmetology, Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Vrije Iniversiteit Brussel, Belgium

The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award winner 2016

Professor Vera Rogiers 
Prof. Rogiers, from Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), is the recipient of the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award for the year 2016 in recognition of her contribution to the field of in vitro toxicology with her excellent research on the development of alternative methods aiming at the replacement of animal experiments.

Prof. Rogiers made her PhD thesis in pharmaceutical sciences at VUB in 1980, and Master’s Degree in applied toxicology at University of Guildford (UK) in 2000.  She has been head of the Department of Toxicology, Dermato-cosmetology and Pharmacognosy in the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy at VUB since 2000 and professor since 2001. Her team has developed in vitro models for pharmaco-toxicological purposes as alternatives to the use of experimental animals in biotransformation and toxicity studies of drugs, cosmetics and other chemical substances. The recent focus has been on epigenetic modification of primary hepatocytes to stabilize their specific phenotype in culture, as well as on production of human hepatocytes from mesenchymal progenitor cells of adult human tissues. Prof. Rogiers has more than 310 publications in international peer-reviewed journals and is editor of several scientific books. The research on liver-based in vitro modelling and stem cell technology has led to the acceptance of three patents at VUB. She is a frequently invited speaker at international scientific congresses and has organized several congresses by herself.

At European level, she has been co-chair of SCCS (Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety) and ESAC (ECVAM Scientific Advisory Committee) till April 2013, and continues to be an invited expert. She was a Founding member and the first President (2000-2009) of ECOPA (European Consensus Platform on 3R-Alternatives), bringing together Academia, Industry, Animal welfare and Governmental Institutes in EU countries.  Prof. Rogiers is member of several scientific societies and editorial boards of scientific journals. She is European Registered Toxicologist (ERT) since 2010, and coordinator and research partner in several research consortia granted by EU framework programs.

Prof. Rogiers has received several scientific grants, e.g. Doerenkamp-Zbinden Award in 2000. In addition to her excellent research carrier, she has contributed markedly to the education of young scientists in pharmaceutical sciences and toxicology by supervising over 20 doctoral theses in VUB, by organizing international scientific courses, and by acting as an invited visiting lecturer at many foreign universities.


Professor Vera Rogiers from Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Belgium, received the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award for the year 2016 at the conference of the European Society For Toxicology In Vitro (ESTIV), held in Juan-les-Pins on 17-20 October 2016.

The award ceremony was conducted by Anna Forsby, who delivered the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award 2016 on behalf of the BEMF's board.

At the meeting, Professor Rogiers delivered the Björn Ekwall Memorial Lecture. (read abstract and see presentation here)

The theme of the ESTIV conference in 2016 was In Vitro Toxicology for Safety Assessment with focus on how new technologies can strengthen the interpretation and application of in vitro methods in toxicological research and risk assessment (www.estiv2016.com). Vera Rogiers gave an excellent lecture in the spirit of Björn Ekwall’s concept of basal cytotoxicity (Ekwall, 1995). She referred to the Multicentre Evaluation of In vitro Cytotoxicity (MEIC) project, which was the first study that showed that human cells predict human toxicity better than cells from any other species and even mice and rats (Ekwall et al., 1998). Convinced about the fact that human cells are the only relevant tissue for human safety assessment, Rogiers has developed and used human cell and tissue models throughout decades. Lately, Rogiers’ research team have used human postnatal mesenchymal stem cells that are isolated from human skin and differentiated them into functional liver cells (Rodrigues et al., 2014). These skin-derived, differentiated hepatic progenitor cells have been shown to be useful for estimation of toxicological responses such as liver damage, liver necrosis and steatosis by using a toxicogenomic approach. Again, Vera Rogiers and her research team present a novel, innovative human cell model that can be used for human safety assessment.

Vera Rogiers received a diploma and a sum of 30,000 SEK to the memory of Björn Ekwall.

Anna Forsby, PhD, Associate professor and senior scientist

Department of Neurochemistry

Stockholm University



Ekwall B. (1995) The basal cytotoxicity concept. In: Alternative Methods in Toxicology and the Life Sciences, Vol. 11, The World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences; Education, Research, Testing. Edited by A. M. Goldberg and L. F. M. van Zupthen, pp. 721-725. Mary Ann Liebert, New York.

Ekwall B., Barile F. A., Castano A., Clemedson C., Clothier R. H., Dierickx P., Ekwall Ba, Ferro M., Fiskesjö G., Garza-Ocanas L., Gomez-Lechon M-J., Gülden M., Hall T., Isomaa B., Kahru A., Kerszman G., Kristen U., Kunimoto M., Kärenlampi S., Lewan L., Loukianov A., Ohno T., Persoone G., Romert L., Sawyer T. W., Segner H., Shrivastava R., Stammati A., Tanaka N., Valentino M., Walum E. and Zucco F. (1998) MEIC Evaluation of Acute Systemic Toxicity. Part VI. Prediction of human toxicity by rodent LD50 values and results from 61 in vitro tests. ATLA 26 (Suppl. 2), 617-658.

Rodrigues RM1, De Kock J, Branson S, Vinken M, Meganathan K, Chaudhari U, Sachinidis A, Govaere O, Roskams T, De Boe V, Vanhaecke T, Rogiers V. (2014) Human skin-derived stem cells as a novel cell source for in vitro hepatotoxicity screening of pharmaceuticals. Stem Cells Dev. 23(1), 44-55. 

The BMEF stipend 2015 was given to Andy Forreryd

The BEMF stipend 2015 for a PhD student was given to Andy Forreryd from the Department of Immunotechnology, Lund University, Sweden, to enable him to participate in the SSCT-SweTox meeting in Bommersvik (October 13-15, 2015). A. Forreryd was selected from three candidates by the BEMF board members as a most promising candidate. At the meeting he gave 20 min oral presentation with the title: “Prediction of chemical respiratory sensitizers using GARD, a novel in vitro assay based on a genomic biomarker signature”.

Willy och Berit Heymans Djurskyddsstiftelsen

Willy and Berit Heymans Animal Protection Foundation supports several projects, dealing with animal welfare and influencing public opinion about animal protection legislation (djurskyddsstiftelsen@heymans.se). The Foundation also supports scientists working actively in the field of in vitro toxicology, for replacement of animal experimentation by alternative methods and for development of non-animal in vitro tests. The financial means donated to BEMF by this foundation will be used for support of promising PhD students doing research in the field of cell toxicology, to give them a possibility to participate in the scientific conferences and workshops, where they could present the results of their studies. 

Report on the SSCT-Swetox workshop: Mechanisms, markers and models - the 3M strategy in risk assessment.
(13-15 October 2015, Bommersvik Course Centre)

In the mid-October 2015, more than 60 scientists from Sweden and other countries (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Norway, UK, USA) met at the course centre Bommersvik for a three days’ workshop on new, modern and non-animal methods to test and examine toxic substances. The Björn Ekwall Memorial (BEM) Award was presented to Michael Balls, who gave the BEM lecture.

 Bommersvik course centre is beautifully situated right next to the lake Ygnern 50 km south of Stockholm, and at this time of the year surrounded by autumn's brilliant colours. The meeting was very well organized by Scandinavian Society for Cell Toxicology (SSCT) in collaboration with the newly established Swedish Toxicology Sciences Research Centre (Swetox).

 The Swedish Fund for Research without Animal Experiments hosted one of the sessions and I had the pleasure to lead the discussions. First among the speakers was Stina Oredsson from Lund University. She spoke captivating about the ethical and scientific issues, related to the fact that most cultivation of cells takes place in the presence of blood serum (fetal bovine serum, FBS) from unborn cow calves. To replace FBS in cell culturing, the use of donor herd horse serum was recommended to relieve the ethical problems. Lena Palmberg from the Karolinska Institute then described her work to develop a three-dimensional system of cultured human cells of the respiratory tract. She successfully used this model for studying effects of nanoparticles present in air pollution on human bronchial epithelial cells.

The concluding presentation by Anna Herland from the Karolinska Institute addressed a novel technology referred to as Organs on Chips in which miniature organ models are created by growing human cells in micro systems where a steady stream of nutrients and oxygen can be created. These new in vitro models can serve as human-relevant alternatives to animal-based models, and can be used in mechanistic studies, as well as in risk assessment.

 Other sessions dealt with subjects like Immune and hematopoetic toxicity, toxicokinetics and metabolism, integrated test strategies for risk assessment, adverse effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals and regulatory aspects of nanoparticle safety. A large number of interesting and well prepared free oral presentations and poster presentations were made as part of the main programme.

The prize for a best oral presentation was received by Andy Forreryd from Dept. of Immunotechnology, Lund University for his contribution Prediction of chemical respiratory sensitizers using GARD, a novel in vitro assay based on a genomic biomarker signature. Andy Forreryd also received our BEMF grant, given to young PhD student to enable their participation in the workshops.

 The prize for a best poster was received by Kristina Attoff from Department of Neurochemistry, Stockholm University for her poster titled “The effect of acrylamide on proliferation and differentiation in the SH-SY5Y and C17.2 neural cell models”.

 In the afternoon of the second day of the workshop, we in the capacity of Chair and v. Chair of BEMF, presented the BEM Award - diploma and flowers – to Professor Michael Balls from the United Kingdom, the University of Nottingham. Michael Balls then delivered a very entertaining and in some respects provocative BEM lecture under the title Scandinavia and the replacement of in vivo toxicity tests: Some personal reflections (The lecture will be published in ATLA in December 2015).

 Encouraging and exciting news were presented by Ian Cotgreave from Swetox. The EU commission has funded €30 million to an international consortium of 39 partner organizations to work on the integration of new concepts for regulatory chemical safety assessment. The programme EU-ToxRisk has the ambition to become the flagship in Europe for animal-free chemical safety assessment. The project will integrate advancements in cell biology, omics technologies, systems biology, and computational modelling to define the complex chains of events that link chemical exposure to toxic outcome. Thus, the project strives towards faster safety evaluation of the many chemicals used by industry and the society. Swetox is one of the members of the consortium.

Ada Kolman
Chair BEMF

Erik Walum
v. Chair BEMF

Prize winner Michael Balls together with Mrs Balls (to the far left) and 
representatives of BEMF, Ada Kolman and Erik Walum

Michael Balls giving the BEM lecture

The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award winner 2015

 Professor Michael Balls

Professor Michael Balls, from the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, is the recipient of the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award for the year 2015 in recognition of his pioneering work in promoting animal welfare and alternatives to animal testing. Professor Balls has significantly contributed to the field of in vitro toxicology by promoting the use of non-animal tests to replace and reduce animal experiments.

 Michael Balls (born in 1938, in Norwich, Norfolk, UK) studied zoology at Oxford University, where he graduated in 1960, and obtained his DPhil in 1964. After post-doctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley, California, USA, and Reed College, Portland, Oregon, USA, he lectured in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. In 1975, he moved to the University of Nottingham Medical School, as Senior Lecturer in the Department of Human Morphology. In 1985, he became Reader in Medical Cell Biology, and in 1990 he was promoted to Professor of Medical Cell Biology. Since 1995, he has been an Emeritus Professor of the University of Nottingham. In 1979, Michael Balls became a Trustee of the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (FRAME), and in 1981 he became Chairman of the Trustees and moved the charity from London to Nottingham. Under his leadership, FRAME became the most important organisation in the world for fighting for animal welfare and promoting alternatives to animal experimentation. In 1984, FRAME received the first ever grant from the UK government for work on replacement alternatives.  In 1983, Michael Balls became Editor of the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Alternatives to Laboratory Animals (ATLA). Under his leadership for more than three decades, this journal has been publishing articles on cell toxicology and playing an important role in the implementation of in vitro testing methodologies and scientific achievements in this field.  For several years, all the papers concerning the results of the Multicentre Evaluation of In vitro Cytotoxicity (MEIC) project (1989-1999), initiated and guided by Bjorn Ekwall, were been published in ATLA.

Read more

The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award 2015 will be handed over at the occasion of the SSCT-Swetox workshop 2015 in Järna, Sweden 13th –15th October 2015. Read more
At the meeting, Professor Balls delivered the Björn Ekwall Memorial Lecture (published in ATLA in December 2015. Read the article

9th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences 24-28 August 2014, Prague, Czech Republic

The 9th World Congress (WC9) was the first in Europe after acceptance by EU countries in 2010 the 3Rs-principles (Replacement, Refinement, Reduction) of W. Russel and R. Burch, postulated by them in 1959 in their book “The Principles of Human Experimental Technique”. Motto of the WC9 was: “Human science in the 21st century”. The congress was attended by over 1015 participants from 49 countries; over 450 oral presentations and 460 posters were contributed. The co-chairs of the congress were Dr. Dagmar Jírová from National Institute of Public Health, Prague, Czech Republic, and Professor Horst Spielmann from the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. The organization of the congress was excellent, both from scientific and social point of views.

Read more

Scandinavian Society for Cell Toxicology (SSCT) celebrated its 30 year activity

The 29th Workshop of Scandinavian Society for Cell Toxicology: 

“Frontiers in Cell Toxicity Testing”

25th-27th September in Vilvorde Cource Center, Charlottenlund, Denmark

Summary of the Workshop by Hanna Tähti, FICAM, University of Tampere

The local organizers of the 29th SSCT Workshop were Professor Lisbeth E. Knudsen and Dr. Line Mathiesen (Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen) with the help of an International Scientific Advisory Committee. When opening the Workshop, Prof. Knudsen mentioned that according to the Directive/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific research the most pragmatic approach to reduce experiments on animals is the introduction of alternative methods (Replacement alternatives) that may replace animal testing. Many new methods based on the use of human cells or tissue models were presented. In addition, the high throughput-methods, in silico methods, and QSAR’s for the evaluation of toxic hazards were also important topics.  The adverse outcome pathway (AOP) approach was highlighted in many presentations as a new integrated testing strategy to evaluate chemical toxicity in vitro.

With this Workshop SSCT celebrated its 30-year anniversary. Professor Erik Walum, the first president of SSCT gave a lecture about the history of SSCT (abstract and presentation). SSCT was established in 1983, October 21, in Uppsala. The first meeting was held on the initiative of Björn Ekwall, and after that the SSCT workshop has been organized every year with exception of the year 2010, when the meeting intended to take place in Norway was cancelled. The important mission of SSCT has been to promote the study of effects of chemicals in cellular models. This mission was concretized in the Multicentre Evaluation of In Vitro Cytotoxicity  (MEIC) programme (1989-1999), initiated and guided by Dr. Björn Ekwall. The main goal of the project was the evaluation of the predictive value of in vitro cytotoxicity tests for human toxicity.

The Björn Ekwall Memorial Lecture was given by Professor Per Artursson (Uppsala University, Sweden) who received the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award 2013. The President of BEMF Ada Kolman (se short presentation of BEMF) presented the motivation for the award  and handed out the diploma to Per Artursson.

In his presentation “Towards quantitative predictions of ADMET properties in vitro” Prof. Artursson very interestingly told about the failure of 40% of drug candidates during the clinical trials causing unpredictable pharmacokinetic events. He told that today the application of new methods based on advanced cell and molecular biology in early drug discovery has resulted in almost complete elimination of clinical failure due to unpredictable pharmaceutical events. In some cases these methods have been accepted by regulatory agencies as surrogates for in vivo studies. He also presented weaknesses of the current in vitro methodologies: composed pharmacodynamics properties such as drug exposure and adverse effects remain difficult to predict in vitro. To overcome these difficulties he presented recent approaches towards more quantitative predictions of drug exposure: e.g. models for estimation of free drug concentration, proteomics-informed quantification of drug transport and metabolism, and in vitro predictions of drug induced liver injury.

The Workshop “Frontiers in Cell Toxicity Testing” consisted of 5 sessions and a poster exhibition. Together, there were 28 oral presentations and 12 poster presentations.  The number of participants was 71, from  9 countries. It was delightful that there were many young scientists participating. The posters were presented in the lecture hall, and shortly also to the whole auditorium as short summaries. The workshop was very well organized and both scientifically and socially interesting and successful. 

The speakers were invited by the organizers to submit their presentations issued as mini reviews to the Journal of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology. The topics of the oral sessions are listed below:

                   Session 1. New technologies in cell toxicity testing

                   Session 2: Pathways of toxicity


Session 3: In vitro/ in silico analysis for risk assessment


Session 4: 3D and ex vivo tissue models


Session 5: In vitro tests for Human Biomonitoring

At the end of the Workshop three prizes to young scientists were delivered: The prize for the best oral presentation to Thit Aarøe Mørck, for  the best poster to Henrik Johansson

and for best poster describing a replacement strategy to Jonas Christoffersson, sponsored by the Danish Animal Welfare Society, the Committee for Experimental animals.

Human in vivo database now on ACuteTox home page

The main goal of the EU project ACuteTox (2005-2010), under the title „Optimisation and pre-validation of an in vitro test strategy for predicting human acute toxicity“, was to develop in vitro and in silico methods which could replace animal tests of chemicals. In the project a set of 97 selected reference chemicals were tested in a large amount of in vitro assays, and the results were compared with animal (LD50) and human (blood concentrations measurements in victims of poisoning) data. Therefore one part of the project was creation of a human in vivo database, which is now available at the ACuteTox home page: www.acutetox.eu In the human in vivo database over 2800 human cases are compiled. Tables with sub-lethal, lethal and post-mortem doses at the acute poisoning, with/without time information, are presented. Each case of poisoning is provided by age and sex of a victim, type of poisoning (intentional or unintentional), toxic dose of chemical, time from exposure to sampling (if available), blood concentration of chemical, symptoms and signs of poisoning, as well as the treatment of a poisoned person (if available).Human blood concentration data have been collected from clinical and forensic medical case reports. Among sources of information were the monographs from the MEMO database created by Dr. Björn Ekwall (1940-2000) and his colleagues in the Multicentre Evaluation of In Vitro Cytotoxicity (MEIC) study. Unfortunately, MEMO database is not any more available at the internet , but most of the data are included in the ACuteTox database. Other sources were papers in the international journals, Swedish Poison Informatrion Centre, poison information centers in other countries, several databases, e.g. Poisindex, Thomson Micromedex, HSDB, ChemIDPlus etc.
Availability of human poisoning data was limited by lack of the data concerning of acute exposure (i.e. accidental ingestion, suicidal overdose, etc.) and/or lack in many cases of clinical/forensic monitoring of a victim/patient with reported blood concentration measurments. For these reasons eleven chemicals (of 97) remain without any reported acute poisoning cases.

In the database you can find also references to all cases of poisoning, as well as „summary descriptions“ of all 97 chemicals. In summary descriptions the most important knowledge are summarized, e.g. human toxicity data (acute lehal doses, lowest lehal doses, blood concentrations, etc.), kinetic data, metabolism and excretion, toxicological mechanisms of action, target organs etc.).The authors do hope that human in vivo database will be useful not only for cell toxicologists developing new in vitro assays, but also for medical doctors dealing with human poisoning.

Read more about the human in vivo database in Kolman, A. & Clemedsson, C. (2013) Human in vivo database now on ACuteTox home page. Toxicology in vitro 27, 2350-2351.

Ada Kolman ada.kolman2@gmail.com

Cecilia Clemedson cecilia.clemedson@advocotox.se 

Stockholm, 2013-08-03

Swedish Animal Friends National Organisation (Djurens Vänners

Riksorganisation) is celebrating 55 years

Swedish Animal Friends National Organisation was founded June 8, 1957, in Örebro. Today

it consists of 14 sections located in different cities in Sweden. Three first sections were

established already in 1952 in Malmö, Helsingborg and Göteborg. Later, similar sections were

opened in Stockholm, Uppsala, Karlstad, Borlänge, Karlskrona, Norrtälje and several other

places. In 1957 all these sections were united under the name „Animal Friends National

Organisation”, which is a non-profit body fighting for animal protection and financing its

activities by collecting money from private persons and several companies/organisations.

The main tasks of Animal Friends are described on their home page:


I will not recapitulate here all tasks, but I wish to point out the most important goals which are

common for the Björn Ekvall Memorial Foundation (BEMF) and the Animal Friends:

„to disclose facts about the painful animal experiments and work for a law supporting

alternative research; to be opinion leaders for better animal welfare laws and better animal


The Björn Ekwall Memorial Foundation (BEMF) celebrated in 2011 its 10th Anniversary.

During the past decade, the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award was given to twelve outstanding

scientists who significantly contributed to the field of cell toxicology by development,

implementation and validation of non-animal alternative toxicity tests or by other research

leading to reduction and/or replacement of animal experiments. The BEMF support of

distinguished scientists in the field of in vitro toxicology and alternative methods contributes

to the acceptance of non-animal methods in toxicology.

To be able to hand out the prize every year, the BEMF is dependent on financial support from

companies, organisations and private donors. The Swedish Animal Friends National

Organisation is one of the most significant donators to the BEMF (donations years 2009, 2011

and 2012). Without this generous help we couldn’t be able yearly reward scientists for their

achievements in non-animal toxicological research. Our deep gratitude is going to this

organisation and its members.

Ada Kolman, PhD, assoc. Professor

President of the Björn Ekwall Memorial Foundation


Articles about Björn Ekwall

Read the articles or download from Archive

The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award winner 2014

 Dr. Tuula Heinonen 

Dr. Tuula Heinonen (Ph.D., Adjunct Professor, Director of FICAM) from the School of Medicine, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland has been selected for the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award 2014 in recognition of her achievements in promotion and implementation of alternative methods by developing human cell based tissue/organ models, as well as by establishing the Finnish Centre for Alternative Methods (FICAM).

Dr. Heinonen defended her PhD thesis in 1982 in the field of toxicology,  at the University of Turku; in 1993 she became Adjunct Professor in biochemistry at the University of Helsinki, and in 1984  adjunct professor in toxicology at the University of Turku. Dr. Heinonen has worked as scientist at the Institute of Occupational Health (1979-83) and as toxicologist and  in leading research positions in pharmaceutical industry (1983-2007). She has worked in the University of Tampere from 2007 on first in Cell Research Center, and after the establishment of FICAM in 2008 as director of it. Dr. Heinonen and her group will develop  human cell based tissue models for  biomedical research and toxicology. The focus of Dr. Heinonen is on the development and validation of better methods for prediction of human effects by using human cell based tissue models instead of animal experiments. The first validated model developed by Dr Heinonen’s group is angiogenesis model applicable for both biomedical and toxicological purposes.

The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award 2014 will be handed over at the occasion of the 9th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in Life Sciences, which will be held in Prague, Czech Republic, 24 - 28 August, 2014. 
At the meeting, Dr. Heinonen will deliver the Björn Ekwall Memorial Lecture on the 27th of August at 6 p.m. The title of the lecture is: Better science with human-based organ and tissue models.

The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award Winner 2013 


Prof. Per Artursson

Professor Per Artursson (M Sci Pharm, PhD) at Uppsala University, Department of Pharmaceutics, receives the 2013 Björn Ekwall Memorial Award in recognition of his scientific achievements in the field of drug design and delivery and for the innovative design and successful implementation of in vitro methods in pharmacy and toxicology.

During the course of this research Dr. Artursson has developed a number of new, scientifically sound and animal saving, in vitro models based on advanced cell and molecular biology. These models have been adopted by the drug industry for prediction of drug absorption in the drug discovery process.  Dr Artursson has also been important for the development of in vitro and in silico methods e.g. through his participation in large international studies like MEIC and ACuteTox.

The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award 2013 will be handed over at the occasion of the 29th Workshop of SSCT, 25-27 September 2013, Vilvorde Course Center, Charlottenlund, DenmarkAt the meeting, Professor Artursson will deliver the Björn Ekwall Memorial Lecture. 

The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award Winner 2012 

Horst Spielman
 Prof. Dr. med. Horst Spielmann

Professor Dr. med. Horst Spielmann, has significantly contributed to the field of in vitro toxicology by developing of non-animal tests aiming reduction of animal experiments. The alternative models for toxicity testing developed by H. Spielmann are used world-wide, e.g. use of mouse fibroblasts for the estimation of phototoxicity and chemical toxicity, or human keratinocyte cultures for the test on irritation by chemicals. He also developed the embryonic stem cell test (EST), which is an in vitro embryotoxicity test using two permanent mouse cell lines: 3T3 fibroblasts and embryonic stem cells. These tests have been evaluated statistically and are reproducible. H. Spielmann was a collaborator of Dr. Björn Ekwall during several years. He participated in the MEIC program being head of one of the laboratories at ZEBET that provided data for the MEIC reference chemicals. He was an associate editor of ATLA, which published all papers about MEIC project.

The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award will be handed over at the occasion of the ESTIV 2012 meeting in Lisbon, Portugal, October 16-19, 2012. At the meeting, Professor Spielmann will deliver the Björn Ekwall Memorial Lecture with the title: Today Björn Ekwall would endorse the concept "Toxicology in the 21st Century

The presentation will be published in ATLA in the beginning of 2013. See the slides from the presentation: Björn Ekwall Memorial Lecture

The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award Winner 2011

Dr. Päivi Myllynen

In recognition of her excellent scientific work in the field of in vitro toxicology Dr Päivi Myllynen is the recipient of the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award for the year 2011.

Dr. Päivi Myllynen (University of Oulu, Finland) has significantly contributed to the field of in vitro toxicology by evaluating placental transfer and metabolism of environmental contaminants and food-borne carcinogens in the human placental perfusion model.

Dr. Myllynen has built her scientific career with great determination and enthusiasm. She completed her Ph.D. thesis in 2003 and acts today as a senior lecturer at the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Institute of Biomedicine, university of Oulu. In addition to the constantly increasing scientific publication activity, she has already started her own research group of younger scientists and doctoral students.

The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award will be handed over at the occasion of the 28thAnnual Workshop of the Scandinavian Society for Cell Toxicology, Tampere, Finland, September 21-23, 2011.

The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award Winner 2010

Dr. Richard Clothier 

In recognition of his outstanding contribution in the field of in vitro toxicology, in particular with respect to development, implementation and validation of alternative toxicity test methods, and for his substantial contribution to the FRAME Research Programme Dr. Richard Clothier is the recipient of the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award for the year 2010.

Richard Clothier substantially contributed to the field of in vitro toxicology by developing alternative assays for replacing animal toxicity testing. As an expert in national and international trials, he also significantly contributed to the further advancement of the acceptance of alternative assays for toxicity through his commitment to a number of studies including: FRAME study in 1983-1986, the EC/HO and COLIPA international validation study on alternatives to the Draize eye irritation test, EU/COLIPA international validation study on the in vitro 3T3 NRU test for phototoxicity and others. For many years Dr. Clothier collaborated with Dr. Björn Ekwall on the MEIC programme aimed at the evaluation of ability of in vitro basal cytotoxicity assays to predict human acute systemic toxicity. Dr. Clothier was one of the scientific leaders of the integrated EU sponsored ACuteTox project, and he contributed to its in vitro-in vivo evaluation of the data.

Dr. Clothier was a co-founder (1983) of the FRAME Alternative Laboratory (FAL) at the University of Nottingham, in the Medical School, and was a director of the FAL from 1997 to 2005. Since 2005 he is an Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham. R. Clothier has been a FRAME Trustee since 1983.

London, UK, November 4, 2010 

The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award Winner 2009

Dr. Annalaura Stammati

In recognition of her outstanding contribution in the field of in vitro toxicology, promoting implementation of alternative methods for estimation of molecular mechanisms of toxicity Dr. Annalaura Stammati is the recipient of the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award for the year of 2009.

Annalaura Stammati is a research director at the Istituto Superiore di Sanitŕ (ISS), Rome, Italy; and since 2004 she is the director of the Toxicity Mechanisms Unit in the Department of Environment and Primary Prevention. With her team, she significantly contributed to the study of the toxicity of synthetic and natural compounds using different cell lines. In the last years the research was focused on compounds toxic for the gastro-intestinal tract, also investigating their absorption, by using in vitro intestinal models. This non animal-based approach integrating toxicodynamics and biokinetics should lead to the development of a strategy for measuring the real exposure of cells to chemicals and to the prediction of biokinetics in humans. A. Stammati has significantly contributed to the advancement of the acceptance of alternative methods to laboratory animal models through her commitment in national and international expert committees, e.g since 2002 she is a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of ECVAM (Ispra); she is an expert in OECD Test Guidelines Program (since 1998), and in the Italian delegation in the Committee of Experts on Cosmetic Products (2005-2007). She also funded IPAM, the Italian Platform on Alternative Methods in 2003. During her almost 40 years long career, she was the scientific leader of the Italian unit in many national and international projects and responsible for the education of numerous students and post-graduate students in the field of in vitro toxicology. A. Stammati was one of the closest co-workers of Dr. Björn Ekwall; she participated in the MEIC project from the very beginning, and was a co-author of several MEIC publications.

Lazně Sedmihorky, Czech Republic, September 18, 2009

The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award Winner 2008

Professor Erik Walum

In recognition of his outstanding contribution in the field of in vitro toxicology, particularly promoting implementation of alternative methods for estimation of neurotoxicity Professor Erik Walum is the recipient of the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award for the year of 2008.

Erik Walum (Biovitrum AB, Sweden) is one of the most significant pioneers in the field of in vitro neurotoxicology. His research has mainly been focused on the influence of toxic substances on neuronal differentiation and degeneration, protection against neurotoxic insult and nerve-glia co-operation. Erik Walum's ideas about mechanism-based toxicity, starting in the early eighties, are still outstanding. Several of the methods that were developed under his guidance have been evaluated, with great success, in international collaborations. Erik Walum has significantly contributed to the advancement of the acceptance of alternative methods to laboratory animal models through his commitment in national and international expert committees such as the Swedish board for laboratory animals (CFN), the European Research Group for Alternative Toxicity Testing (ERGATT) and the European Scientific Advisory Committee (ESAC) of the European Centre for Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM). Erik Walum has fostered a large number of students in the field of in vitro toxicology, particularly neurotoxicology, and he supervised 5 students to higher academic degrees at Stockholm university. Together with Björn Ekwall, he founded the Scandinavian Society for Cell Toxicology (SSCT) and he had a fundamental role in the early days of the MEIC project.

Djurönäset, Stockholm, Sweden, September 27, 2008

The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award Winner 2007

Dr Rodger Dean Curren

In recognition of his outstanding contribution in the field of in vitro toxicology, particularly promoting the development, optimization, validation and acceptance of alternative (non-animal) testing and research methods, Dr Rodger Dean Curren is the recipient of the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award for the year of 2007.

After he defended his PhD thesis in 1975 in the field of microbiology, Dr. Curren devoted his scientific research to studies of mutagenic and carcinogenic effects of toxic chemicals in several human and animal cell models. He made important contributions in the development and implementation of non-animal ocular and dermal irritation tests. Dr. Curren has contributed significantly to elaboration of criteria for validation of alternative toxicological methods and for their use in the cosmetic and chemical industries. Dr. Curren was also an active collaborator of Dr. Björn Ekwall in the MEIC project.

Dr. Curren is at present time the President of the Institute for In Vitro Sciences, Inc, Gaithersburg, Maryland, the U.S.A., which is an internationally recognized Non-Profit Institute founded to promote the development of alternative methods in toxicity testing. Dr. Curren was 1995-2002 a member of the Pre-validation Task Force for ECVAM (European Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods), a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Alternative Toxicological Methods for NIEHS, ICCVAM and NICEATM (2002-2005), and a member of the Advisory Board for EU ACuteTox project (2006). He is a member of the Steering Committee for COLIPA’s 3D skin genotoxicity project, as well as a member of other scientific bodies.

Salzau, Germany, September 21, 2007 

The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award Winner 2006

Dr Cecilia Clemedson

In recognition of her enthusiastic work in the MEIC, EDIT and the ACuteTox project, together with her invaluable efforts for the Scandinavian Society for Cell Toxicology, Cecilia Clemedson is the recipient of the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award for the year of 2006. 

After receiving her PhD degree at the Department of Neurochemistry and Neurotoxicology at Stockholm University in 1992, Cecilia Clemedson continued her carrier by working on the validation of in vitro cytotoxicity methods for the use in the estimation of acute systemic toxicity. During many years, she was Björn Ekwall’s closest collaborator in the MEIC project. After Björn Ekwall’s death in 2000, she carried on with the EDIT project and the idea to find an alternative strategy to traditional toxicity testing. Cecilia Clemedson is presently the scientific coordinator of the EU-funded ACuteTox project (Optimisation and pre-validation of an in vitro test strategy for predicting human acute toxicity), which is the largest validation project in the world for acute systemic toxicity, comprising 35 partners in 13 countries. Cecilia Clemedson has implemented Björn Ekwall’s and her own ideas very successfully within the framework of her private companies, i.e. her driving force has been - and still is – an excellent contribution to the projects under her guidance.

Grinda, Stockholm, September 8, 2006

The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award Winners 2005

Dr. Hasso Seibert and Dr. Michael Gülden

Dr. Hasso Seibert and Dr. Michael Gülden from Germany are the joint recipients of the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award for the year of 2005, in recognition of their significant contribution to in vitro – in vivo extrapolation of toxicity Dr. Hasso Seibert and Dr. Michael Gülden received the award for their work on factors that influence nominal effective concentrations of chemical compounds in vitro by defining algorithms for calculation of free chemical concentrations at the target organ. They have also participated in the Multicentre Evaluation of In vitro Cytotoxicity (MEIC) project with the sophisticated cell models including muscle cell contractility and bovine sperm motility assays. Seibert and Gülden are very active and highly acknowledged in the in vitro toxicology community.

Toila, Estonia, October 22, 2005

The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award Winner 2004

Professor Hanna Tähti

In recognition of her pioneering work in the field of in vitro neurotoxicology and her enthusiastic efforts for the Scandinavian Society for Cell Toxicology,Professor Hanna Tähti is the recipient of the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award for the year of 2004.
Professor Hanna Tähti started in the eighties to investigate the effects of organic solvents on acetylcholine esterase activity in erythrocytes. By that, she definitely left the rats as the experimental model behind and focused on the development of simple as well as sophisticated in vitro models of the central nervous system and corneal, retinal and blood-brain barriers. She has educated many students and encouraged them to explore new techniques and scientifically demanding matters the field of in vitro neurotoxicology. Professor Hanna Tähti is a devoted member of the Scandinavian Society for Cell Toxicology.

Zegrze, Poland, September 10, 2004

The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award Winner 2003

Dr Per Kjellstrand (1941 - 2010)

In recognition of his pioneering work in the field of in vitro screening of complex materials for acute toxicity, Dr Per Kjellstrand is the recipient of the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award for the year of 2003.
Dr. Kjellstrand early realised the necessity to develop rapid and reproducible methods for detection of the toxic activities for large sets of compounds. In the eighties, he introduced cell-based techniques for high throughput toxicity screening into the industrial laboratory, which now have replaced the traditional acute toxicity tests. The world-widely used methods for detection of toxic activity of dialysis fluids and equipment were developed in Dr. Kjellstrand’s department. Dr. Kjellstrand was also one of the first researchers to take part in the MEIC project, which later confirmed the usefulness of simple in vitro methods as alternatives to acute animal toxicity tests.

Murikka, Finland, September 20, 2003

The Björn Ekwall Memorial Award Winner 2002

Dr Maria José Gómez-Lechón

In recognition of her pioneering work in the field of in vitro hepatotoxicity, Dr Maria José Gómez-Lechón is the first recipient of the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award. 
Dr. Gómez-Lechón has developed many different hepatic cellular models including primary human hepatocyte cultures, three-dimensional cultures, co-cultures of hepatocytes and non-parenchymal cells and genetically engineered cell lines which express different biotransformation enzymes. On an early stage, she realised the applicability of cultured hepatocytes for toxicity and biotransformation studies and has propagated for their use as alternatives to animal experiments. Dr. Gómez-Lechón was one of the first researchers to take part in the MEIC project (Multicentre Evaluation of In Vitro Cytotoxicity Programme, 1989-1999). By testing the MEIC chemicals in 15 different in vitro test systems, she was the one that contributed the most to the accomplishment of the MEIC project.

Oxford, UK, September 23, 2002