Thit Aarøe Mørck won the Young Researcher prize in 2014. Here's a little bit more about her work and her hopes for the future.
Please could you introduce yourself and give us a brief introduction to your work.
My name is Thit Aarøe Mørck. I have a master's degree in Human Biology from 2009. I am currently finishing my PhD about the exposure to environmental chemicals in school children. I have worked in the research group of Professor Lisbeth Knudsen at the University of Copenhagen since I started on my master's project in 2008. Lisbeth Knudsen is renowned for her work with alternatives to animal models and I started my time in the group working with the human placental model of placental transfer from mother to unborn child. For my PhD I switched from working with placental transport to Human biomonitoring.
Why were you nominated for the prize?
I nominated myself for the Lush prize for Young Researchers, because I believe that the work I have done for my PhD, with the measurement of 64 different biomarkers of exposure and effect in human samples is very unique, and I wish to contribute further to the knowledge and use of these biomarkers in the field of human biomonitoring and toxicology of chemicals without the use of any animals. I believe that the best way to investigate effects in humans is by using human persons to study and human samples.
Why did you win the prize?
I won the prize for my project which analyses the effects of two biomarkers in relation to each other, and in relation to 62 biomarkers of exposure measured in school children and their mothers. I will attempt to find important patterns of exposure as well as possible connections between biomarkers of exposures and biomarkers of effects. This use of biomarkers of effects in relation to the exposure biomarkers is an alternative to animal use in the investigation of the possible adverse effects of human exposure to environmental chemicals.
Could you outline how your work overlaps with current governmental policies?
The chemicals that I investigate in the school children are more or less regulated by law in Denmark or the EU. The knowledge about the actual exposure levels in the children and their mothers as well as knowledge about how we are exposed and possible adverse effects from the exposure may be taken into account when regulatives are evaluated or when new chemicals are being looked at.
What does winning the prize mean for you?
I am very proud to have won the young researcher award. I believe that the use of biomarkers in human biomonitoring will be used more and more and that new and more specific biomarkers will contribute to the research field of the toxicological effects of environmental chemicals without the use of animal studies. I hope wining the prize will set more focus on this subject.