University of Birmingham Scientist named Lush Prize Young Researcher 2022

Dr Arthur de Carvalho e Silva, Research Fellow at The University of Birmingham has been named one of the Lush Prize Young Researchers of 2022.

Dr Arthur de Carvalho e Silva

Dr Arthur de Carvalho e Silva

This award is given to scientists working to replace animal testing, particularly in the field of toxicology.

The 2022 Young Researcher Lush Prize will allow Dr de Carvalho e Silva to carry out important research into perfluorinated chemicals (PFAS). Perfluorinated chemicals are found throughout the environment due to their widespread use in a broad range of consumer products and industrial applications. They are often referred to as ‘forever chemicals’ due to their long-lived persistence and their inability to degrade over time. PFAS can end up in the food chain through a variety of routes including drinking waters and plastic wrapping. Conducting safety assessments on these chemicals is a major challenge as the vast majority lack toxicological data. To avoid the traditional use of animals in safety testing, Dr de Carvalho e Silva’s team proposed an assessment method that combines laboratory-based exposures of liver mini organs (3D cell model that can mimic liver tissues), modern molecular “omics” methods that can be used to diagnose human disease, and specialised computational analyses to determine what exposure level of PFAS can be considered safe.

“I intend to work to turn the world into a safer place using alternative methods to risk-assess potentially harmful substances. It is an honour to be recognised by the Lush Prize 2022, for me it is an encouraging sign that I am on the right path!

Dr Arthur de Carvalho e Silva

The research team is now testing the combination of methodologies and analysing the results. The next step is to refine this combination. Following this, the team will carry on a new batch of molecular-level experiments to understand more about the hazards of PFAS for humans.

The research team includes scientists from the University of Birmingham (UoB), the UK Health and Safety Executive’s Science and Research Centre (HSE), and from the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA), each bringing unique expertise to the project. Professors Mark Viant and John Colbourne (UoB) are experts in omics technologies applied to toxicology, Dr George Loizou (HSE) is a specialist in computational toxicology, and Dr Olivia Osborne, Ms Claire Potter and Dr David Gott (FSA) bring considerable expertise in regulatory toxicology. 

Lush Prize supports scientists working to replace the use of animals. Because toxicology has for so long been centred on animal testing, many young researchers are deterred from becoming toxicologists. Those who do enter the field can find that access to funding for working on non-animal tests can be a barrier. We want to encourage young scientists to develop a career in toxicology without harming animals by offering bursaries to allow them to advance in this area. We congratulate Dr de Carvalho e Silva on being one of five young researchers from across the world to win a prize this year.

Craig Redmond from Lush Prize