As we all know, it has been more than a year since online meetings and working from home became new reality. From being used to see each other very often for retreats and practical trainings within our NOCI community, we moved to the world of online activities and seeing each other as collage full of multiple backgrounds. We managed to stay in close virtual contact, but there was always the feeling that something was missing.

Finally, this month, after a lot of uncertainty about the “Corona rules and regulations”, we luckily had our first face-to-face retreat in Amsterdam. From the first moment it was clear how happy we all were being in the same room and seeing in person again after more than a year. The laughs and the happy vibe was all over the place.

During our first day of the retreat we focused on showing the progress of each of our projects and plan the future steps. Being all together in the same place helped to enrich the discussion significantly and the dynamics of the meeting, something that 2D online environment cannot usually offer. In the “brain and pee breaks” after a group of presentations, we had the opportunity to take a coffee or tea and enjoy the amazing weather (we were lucky !!!),while discussing about possible collaborations or ideas for a Friday afternoon experiment. The round of presentations finished with incredible feedback from the perspective of biologists and engineers. Then, we met at the park to enjoy the sun and have a more relaxed interaction. To concluded the day, we had a Mediterranean dinner full of colors and amazing taste that everybody enjoyed.

On the second day of the retreat we worked on improving our communication skills to be able to engage the public with different backgrounds in the field of OOC and be aware of the relevance of our projects, in an easy and effective way. All of this is connected to the main message of the relevance and opportunities that organs-on-chip and specifically the Netherlands Organ on Chip Initiative (NOCI) can offer to society. To achieve that we had a workshop by Aliza Tekofsky from Analytic Storytelling

As you can see in the picture, the color pens, drawing skills and imagination were used to the full extent to illustrated what we are doing in NOCI. The message is clear, within NOCI biologists and engineers are working in close collaboration to develop, characterize and validate different organ-on-chip models.

We finished our retreat with an invited speaker, Tom Kamperman from IamFluidics. Tom explained to us how he became Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of IamFluidics and all the effort put in  bringing  technology developed in the lab to the market. It was an insightful discussion that ended with the conclusion that the possibilities are endless.

Personally, I’m looking forward to the next retreat and to have the opportunity to continue collaborating and sharing ideas within such a  diverse group.

Stay tuned for more updates on the NOCI news feed!


José Manuel Rivera Arbelaez
NOCI PhD-student at University of Twente