Katharina Kroll, a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University, has received IFER funding from 2021-2022 for her project, “Development of a Perfusable Vascularized 3D-Kidney Organoid on a Chip for Nephrotoxicity Testing.” The goal of Katharina’s project is to engineer a more complex in vitro model of the human kidney. Animal models often poorly predict the safety and effectiveness of drugs and can miss when the kidney is affected as a side effect of drugs. There are also limitations with existing cell-based kidney models, as they lack a blood supply (vasculature), do not include immune cells, and are often made of kidney cells that haven’t matured beyond early embryonic stages. Katharina plans to address these limitations in her cell-based model. She will be building a kidney organoid-on-a-chip platform that integrates a functional vascular network. She will also test whether this system can support the flow of blood cells delivered through this network. Then she will expose the kidney organoids to specific toxins and measure the effect of those treatments on the overall integrity and function of the organoids.