New Bionanoscience Department at TU Delft officially started


The new Department of Bionanoscience at TU Delft was officially started on 1 January 2010. Bionanoscience is a field of research that has emerged at the interface of biology and nanotechnology and one that is still relatively unexplored. It is expected to become one of the key areas of scientific research in the 21st century. Over the next ten years, TU Delft will invest 10 million euros from strategic funds in the new Bionanoscience department, which forms part of the university’s successful Kavli Institute of Nanoscience.

Bionanoscience is a discipline on the threshold of ‘bio’ and ‘nano’ that studies and applies the molecular building blocks of the living cell. The nanotechnology tool-kit allows researchers to portray, study and examine biological molecules in detail, which yields new understandings of the fundamental working of living cells. An increasing range of applications for the elements of a cell are also emerging. A new field called synthetic biology even makes it possible to develop and apply genetic systems, artificial biomolecules and nanoparticles in the cell.

Very promising
The way in which biological building blocks can be joined together holds promising prospects for applications in, say, industrial biotechnology and the medical sciences. The new Bionanoscience department at the Faculty of Applied Sciences will cover the spectrum from nanoscience to cell biology to synthetic biology, thereby forming a natural and strategically important complement to the activities in the existing departments of Nanoscience and Biotechnology.

Investing in biologically oriented fundamental research and potential applications is of great strategic importance to TU Delft. This is a new and promising field with research into individual cells taking place at the forefront of science and technology. Cell biology is taking on an increasingly “engineering” character: the traditional biologist’s approach is rapidly changing into that of the engineer. By adding Bionanoscience to its research portfolio, TU Delft is strategically strengthening its international position and profile.

The new department, led by Cees Dekker, will work closely with the departments of Nanoscience and Biotechnology, and hopes to expand to a size comparable to that of the already existing departments within the Faculty of Applied Sciences. The goal for the coming years is to recruit around 15 leading scientists along with the appropriate support technicians. In an effort to meet this goal, the university launched an intensive recruitment campaign last year that it will pursue for the next few years. From 1 January 2010, the new department will be manned by Cees Dekker, Nynke Dekker, Juan Keymer, Serge Lemay, and the newly appointed researchers Sander Tans, Christophe Danelon and David Grünwald. For more information on the new department, please visit www.bn.tudelft.nl.