BN Seminar - Tom de Greef (TU Eindhoven): 'Engineering Bioinspired Molecular Networks and Synthetic Cells'



16:00 hrs


A1.100, Van der Maasweg 9, Delft



Complex signalling networks enable living cells to process information from their environment using an intricate network of regulatory interactions. These biochemical circuits function by converting an input signal (stimulus) through spatiotemporal interplay of signalling molecules (transduction) to an output response (function). Inspired by biology, we engineer a range of minimalistic, artificial signalling systems by employing a bottom-up synthetic biology approach. Such simplified model systems composed of fewer species each with well-defined interactions could help isolate key molecular parameters and thus have the potential to uncover generalizable concepts. In this lecture I will discuss the influence of molecular scaffolds on enzymatic catalysis, retroactivity in bistable circuits and a synthetic cellular consortium that is able to perform distributed molecular computing.


Tom de Greef was born in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, in 1980 and studied at the University of Eindhoven (TU/e, the Netherlands), where he received his M.Sc. degree in Biomedical Engineering cum laude in 2004. He completed his Ph.D. at the Department of Chemistry at the same university in 2008 with professors E. W. Meijer and R. P. Sijbesma working on novel polymeric materials based on quadruple hydrogen bonding motifs. Subsequently, he moved to the Biomodeling and Bioinformatics group headed by prof. P. A. J. Hilbers at the Department of Biomedical Engineering (TU/e) studying self-assembling systems from a computational perspective and became assistant professor in this department in 2010 and was promoted to associate professor in 2016. In 2013, Tom de Greef was a visiting scholar in the group of Prof. David Weitz (Harvard) working on protein affinity screening using droplet microfluidics.


Current research themes are centered on the engineering of synthetic cellular systems (bottom-up synthetic biology) and the application of DNA nanotechnology at the interface with biology. In this multidisciplinary work he combines his fascination for (bio)chemistry, mathematical modeling, microfluidics and complex living systems. In 2015 and 2016 he received an ERC starting Grant and NWO VIDI grant respectively. He is core member of the Institute for Complex Molecular Systems (ICMS), core member of the gravitation program "Functional Molecular Systems", junior faculty of the gravitation program "Materials-Driven Regeneration" and recipient of the 2017 Cram Lehn Pedersen prize in supramolecular chemistry.