Nuria Vilarnau, a Ph.D. candidate at the Karolinska Institute, has received IFER funding from 2021-2022 for her project, “Mechanistic Analyses of Human Hepatocyte Plasticity.” The goal of Nuria’s project is to investigate the regeneration of the human liver in vitro using a 3D sphere culture system. Chronic liver disease is becoming a major public health challenge, and the main therapeutic option for individuals suffering from end-stage liver disease is liver transplantation. However, another potential therapeutic approach could involve boosting the natural regenerative potential of liver cells. While the main model to study tissue regeneration has relied on rodents, the translational impact of animal models is limited due to species differences. Traditional two-dimensional cell models of the human liver have also been inadequate to study this condition. Nuria will be using a 3D cell culture system that enables the study of molecular and cellular biology of human adult liver regeneration. She will investigate the effects that small molecules and growth factors have on triggering human liver cells to grow and will perform a high-throughput gene expression study to better understand molecular mechanisms important for human liver cell growth.