Workshop The blood brain barrier challenges & opportunities for in vitro models
/Workshop: The blood brain barrier: challenges & opportunities for in vitro models

Workshop: The blood brain barrier: challenges & opportunities for in vitro models

June 26, 2023 | JW Marriott Hotel Berlin, Berlin, Germany

A pre-MPS World Summit workshop and networking event hosted by imec, discussing the challenges in blood-brain-barrier modeling, and highlighting new opportunities in this emerging field.

This workshop is by invitation only.

The blood-brain-barrier (BBB) is a complex structure that brings together various cell types in a perfectly orchestrated ensemble, with the aim to protect the central nervous system from cells, pathogens, and molecules that rush through our blood vessels. Because of its highly specialized structure and regulating function, designing molecules that cross the BBB is exceedingly challenging. The BBB is also affected by disease and plays a major role in several neurodegenerative pathways.

A proper model of the human BBB that emulates its complex and dynamic physiology, is crucial to gain new mechanistic insights and perform more reliable drug screening. Imec strongly believes that pre-clinical models are key building blocks in the path towards the development of new therapies for brain disease. Our unique infrastructure and manufacturing know-how, in combination with state-of-the-art biology will expedite unlocking the potential of novel humanized in vitro models.

Just before the kick-off of the MPS World Summit 2023, leading experts in the field of BBB research and drug development will gather in this half-day workshop & networking event to discuss new developments and strategies to tackle the challenges surrounding the BBB.

This workshop is by invitation only.


Charlotte D'Hulst

Charlotte D'Hulst, Portfolio Manager Life Sciences at imec

As a Portfolio Manager, Charlotte helps shape imec’s offering strategy for a portfolio of technologies focused on life sciences applications.

Charlotte is an experienced entrepreneur with strong background in genetic engineering & biomedical sciences, driven by translating deep tech & basic science from bench to bedside. Based on her own academic work, she co-founded and built a start-up on a mission to decode and digitize the enigmatic sense of smell.  As CEO of Yesse Technologies, Inc., headquartered in the thriving New York City biotech ecosystem, she raised over $10M and developed partnerships with nanotechnology R&D hub, imec, and The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's research, amongst others. In 2021, she managed the winddown of the company.

Charlotte is trained in bioengineering at the KULeuven (Belgium) and received her PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Antwerp (Belgium). She completed her post-doctoral training working on the molecular biology of olfaction at the City University of New York.

Ben Maoz

Ben Maoz, Faculty member at the Sagol School of Neuroscience and the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tel Aviv University

Dr. Maoz is a faculty member at the Sagol School of Neuroscience and the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tel Aviv University. Dr. Maoz did his Ph.D on nano-optics in the School of Chemistry at Tel Aviv. During his post-doctoral studies, at Harvard University, in Prof. Don Ingber and Kit Parker, he developed Organ-on-a-Chip platforms for studying human relevant physiology.

Dr. Maoz received number of prestigious fellowships, awards and honors, such as the Harvard-Wyss Technology Fellowship, Azrieli Fellowship for Academic Excellence and Leadership, ERC grant, recently he was chosen by “The Marker” as the most promising 40 under 40 and he gave a talk in the first metaverse.

More information on the MaozLab can be found in:

Jason Eckert

Jason Ekert, Head of US Discovery Translational Technology at UCB

Dr. Jason Ekert is Head of US Discovery Translational Technology at UCB. He is responsible for the planning and directing of Complement biology and translational biology research, as well as seeking partnerships with research institutions and companies to remain on the leading edge of drug discovery.
Before joining UCB he was Senior Director, GSK Fellow and Head of the Complex In Vitro Models (CIVM) group at GlaxoSmithKline. He was responsible for an integrated enterprise strategy for R&D applications of complex human-relevant and translatable complex in vitro models (eg Organoids, Microphysiological systems and bioprinting). He worked at Janssen in biotherapeutic drug discovery. Jason received his PhD from Adelaide University. Post-doctoral training was performed at University of California, Davis and Coriell Institute for Medical Research.

He’s currently the past chair for the IQ-MPS affiliate and co-leads the regulatory sub-group for the IQ-MPS affiliate. He is a member of the Society for Lab Automation and Screening (SLAS) and Society of Toxicology (SOT).

Dries Braeken

Dries Braeken, R&D Manager Organ-on-Chip at imec

Dries Braeken received a MSc degree in Biomedical Sciences from KU Leuven, Belgium, in 2003, and a Ph.D. degree in Medical Sciences from the KU Leuven (in collaboration with imec, Leuven, Belgium) in 2009. He has been a Group Leader in the Life Science technologies department at imec since 2017. He is (co)-author of more than 80 internationally peer-reviewed publications and 13 granted and pending patents. His research interests are developing and validating silicon technologies for cell and tissue interfacing in healthcare applications.

Anna Herland

Anna Herland, Associate Professor at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Karolinska Institute

Anna Herland is an Associate Professor in Nanobiotechnology at SciLifelab, the Department of Protein Science at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and the Department of Neuroscience at Karolinska Institute Sweden. She is in the management group of AIMES, Center for the Advancement of Integrated Medical and Engineering Science at KTH and Karolinska Institutet and the vice-director of KTH Life Science Platform. Herland received a PhD in Organic Bioelectronics from Linköping University with Professor Olle Inganäs as a supervisor. She did postdoc fellowships at Karolinska Institutet in stem cell engineering with Associate Professor Ana Teixeira and at Wyss Institute, Harvard University in tissue engineering with Professor Donald Ingber. She is a Wallenberg Academy Fellow and has > 60 peer-reviewed journal publications and 10 patents. Her research group focuses on creating microphysiological models of tissue, especially the central nervous system. She develops human primary and stem cell-derived systems combined with microfluidics and uses organic electronics or bioelectronics stimuli and read-outs for real-time assessment of biological functions.

Mark Zervas

Mark Zervas, Head of Discovery and Preclinical research at Cohen Veterans Bioscience

Mark Zervas earned his Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, was a postdoctoral fellow at the NYU School of Medicine. Mark was the Manning Assistant Professor of Biology in the Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry at Brown University. Mark then served as Senior Scientist at Amgen, where he led a research team that used human genetics to discover novel therapeutic targets and human iPSC-derived dopamine neurons for understanding target biology and mechanisms underlying Parkinsons Disease, including mitochondrial dysfunction. Mark was also a Senior Scientist at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals where he led a team using RNAi to treat ocular diseases. At CVB, Mark is responsible for identifying putative therapeutic targets and advancing biological understanding of PTSD and TBI using multiple modalities.


  • 9.30 am: Registration & coffee
  • 10.00 am: Welcome by Charlotte D'Hulst, Portfolio Manager Life Sciences at imec
  • 10.10 am: Advanced platforms for studying the BBB.- Presentation by Ben Maoz, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Sagol school of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University
  • 10.40 am: Pharma perspective on BBB models - Presentation by Jason Ekert, Head of US Discovery Translational Technology at UCB Pharma
  • 11.10 am: Nanotechnology-enabled organ-on-chip models - Presentation by Dries Braeken, R&D Manager Organ-on-Chip at imec
  • 11.40 am: Lunch, networking and demos
  • 1.30 pm: Improved interfaces in neurovascular models - Presentation by Anna Herland, Associate Professor KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Karolinska Institute
  • 2.00 pm: Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Derived BBB and Neuronal Interface for Disease Modeling and CNS Drug Delivery - Mark Zervas, Head of Discovery and Preclinical research at Cohen Veterans Bioscience
  • 2.30 pm: Coffee, networking and demos
  • 3.30 pm: End

Target audience

This workshop is intended for anyone involved in neurological research and neuro diseases such as neuroscientists, drug developers, biomedical researchers and regulators.


This workshop is organized as a pre-MPS World Summit satellite. Registration to the MPS World Summit is not mandatory. If you want to register for the MPS World Summit, you can register for the waiting list here. If you have any questions, please contact us: