The Tenth Anniversary of the Björn Ekwall Memorial Foundation
Erik Walum, Hanna Tähti and Ada Kolman
The Björn Ekwall Memorial Foundation (BEMF) was initiated by the Scandinavian Society for Cell Toxicology in 2001, to honour the memory of Dr Björn Ekwall (1940–2000) and to establish a prize, the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award. The prize is awarded to scientists who have significantly contributed to the field of cell toxicology, and whose work is contributing toward the replacement of animal experiments by alternative toxicity tests. Over the past 10 years, the Björn Ekwall Memorial Award has been presented annually. Björn Ekwall, an outstanding Swedish cell toxicologist, was one of the pioneers in the development and application of alternative methods to animal tests in toxicology. All his scientific work was devoted to in vitro toxicology, and in particular, to the use of cultured human cells for the screening of toxic chemicals. In the middle of the 1980s, he initiated the international Multicentre Evaluation of In Vitro Cytotoxicity (MEIC) project, to evaluate the usefulness of in vitro tests for the estimation of human acute systemic toxicity. To prove his “basal cytotoxicity concept”, he established the MEMO database, in which data on the acutely toxic human blood concentrations of drugs and chemicals were collated from the literature and from clinical studies. He also initiated another project, Evaluation-Guided Development of In Vitro Toxicity and Toxicokinetic Tests (EDIT). The ideas from the EDIT project, together with those from the MEIC project, became the basis for today’s international EU projects, e.g. ACuteTox, Sens-it-iv and ReProTect. In this article, 10 years after the start of the BEMF, the scientific achievements of each of the award winners in the field of in vitro toxicology are presented, together with a brief synopsis of their careers.