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Jan de Boer

Jan de Boer (chair)

Professor of applied cell biology at the MERLN Institute.

Jan is interested in the molecular complexity of cells and how molecular circuits are involved in cell and tissue function. With a background in mouse and Drosophila genetics, he entered the field of biomedical engineering in 2002 and has since focused on understanding and implementing molecular biology in the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. His research is characterized by a holistic approach to both discovery and application, aiming at combining high throughput technologies, computational modeling and experimental cell biology to streamline the wealth of biological knowledge to real clinical applications.

Aurélie Carlier

Aurélie Carlier

Assistant professor at the MERLN Institute.

Aurélie studied Biomedical Engineering at the KU Leuven (Belgium) where she also received her PhD degree in 2014 on multiscale modelling of angiogenesis during bone regeneration. In 2013 she visited the Systems Biology Laboratory at the Johns Hopkins University (USA) where she developed a computational model of VEGF transport within tumor tissue. As postdoctoral researcher she focused on improving the outcome of tissue engineering constructs by optimizing both the timing of implantation as well as the spatial patterns thereof with computational techniques. Aurélie’s research interests encompass the development and experimental validation of computational models of biological processes in the context of tissue regeneration and biomaterial interactions. In particular, she is interested in developing multiscale computational models where intracellular pathways are linked to the tissue scale via a cellular level. For the implementation of the models, she is applying a range of modelling techniques including hypothesis-based mechanistic models and data-driven gene network models.

ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0002-2305-5667
Dennie Hebels

Dennie Hebels

Project manager at the MERLN Institute.

Dennie obtained his PhD at Maastricht University in 2010 in the field of toxicogenomics, followed by two post-docs within the European EnviroGenomarkers project and the diXa project. In these projects he was involved in the identification of genomics biomarkers in cancer and hepatotoxicity. In 2015 he started working as a post-doctoral fellow at cBITE where he set up the cBiT data repository that stores all previously and newly generated experimental data in cBITE and other biomaterial research groups. As of 2017, he is the project manager at cBITE, while continuing to assist in bridging the gap between omics data and biomaterial-based experimental cell biology to achieve the translation of new concepts into pre-clinical research.

ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0001-5816-679X
Marloes Kamphuis

Marloes Kamphuis

Lab manager of the cell culture facility at the MERLN Institute.

When Marloes finished her study Medical Biochemistry at the Hogeschool Enschede she started working as a research assistant at the University of Utrecht. Her project focused on chemo sensitization of myeloma plasma cells by decreasing anti-apoptotic proteins. In 2002 she started a new position at the Medical Spectrum Twente in Enschede where she worked on the in vitro study of biodegradable small diameter blood vessels made of polymers. She continued this project in 2005 at the University of Twente. In 2008 she moved to Australia where she started working at the University of Melbourne. Within the department of prof. Frank Caruso she worked on targeting cancer cells using click-functionalized polymer capsules. In 2014 she moved back to the Netherlands and from September 2014 onwards she started as a lab manager with cBITE at the University of Maastricht. She is responsible for the MERLN ML2 cell culture facility and assisting on several research projects.

Nadia Roumans

Nadia Roumans

Technician

In 2010, Nadia obtained her bachelor’s degree in Biology and Medical Laboratory Sciences at Hogeschool Zuyd in Heerlen. She continued for her master’s degree in Molecular Life Sciences at Maastricht University. For her master’s thesis she focused on accelerating murine wound healing by injection of in vitro polarized M2 macrophages. After obtaining her master’s degree, she started her PhD at the department of Human Biology at Maastricht University. During this period, she studied the adipocyte-driven mechanism for weight regain after weight loss in a complex human dietary intervention study with 61 overweight/obese participants. She obtained her PhD degree in 2017 and from September 2017 onwards she started as a technician with cBITE. 

Nick Beijer

Nick Beijer

PhD student at the MERLN Institute.

The ultra-cool, highly innovative and extremely important use of topographies in cell related projects

Nick obtained his Master degree in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Twente, and is a PhD candidate in the deBoer lab since September 2013. As part of the biomedical engineering program, Nick was involved in a research project entitled “Metabolomics analysis of osteogenesis enhanced by nano-patterned surfaces” under supervision of dr. Matthew Dalby at the university of Glasgow, Scotland. He graduated in the department of Tissue Regeneration where he worked on “The molecular mechanisms of mechanotransduction caused by algorithm generated micro-topography”. The main topic of his PhD project is to explore the interaction between cells and material surfaces. How the cell adhesion takes place on micrometre scale topography enhanced substrates, the influence of the microenvironment on cell behaviour, which signaling pathways are altered in their activity, and how we can use this knowledge for future applications.

Aliaksei (Alex) Vasilevich

Aliaksei (Alex) Vasilevich

PhD student at the MERLN Institute.

Phenome: from cellular shape diversity to distinct molecular mechanisms

Alex discovered his passion towards statistics during his Bachelor training as a biologist. Since then he always chose research projects which on one hand had a clear application, while on the other hand required extensive data analysis. For his Master's thesis he developed a method to rapidly measure the sensitivity of cells to drugs using image analysis. Afterwards Alex joined a group of oncologists, where he built on background in cell screening assays and participated in projects to create a biochemical assay to determine a personalized treatment course for patients with leukemia. To continue developing his interest in the field of high content screening and machine learning Alex started a Phd in the deBoer lab where he had a chance to massively expand the experience and knowledge in data analysis while studying the phenomenon of pattern recognition by cells. Currently he is extensively using machine learning including Convolutional Neural Nets to understand how surface topography affects cells fate.

ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0001-6696-9728
Pascal Vroemen

Pascal Vroemen

PhD student at the MERLN Institute.

“Under Pressure”: An in vitro glaucoma model for retinal ganglion cells

Pascal started his Bachelor Molecular Life Sciences at Maastricht University in 2008. During this bachelor, he discovered that he really liked doing scientific research, but missed working with patients. He combined these ambitions in the Master Physician – Clinical Investigator, which combines Medicine and Clinical research. He is interested in ophthalmology, mechanobiology, genetics and molecular sciences. In October 2016, he started working as a PhD student at cBITE MERLN in collaboration with the Ophthalmology department of the MUMC+ to study glaucoma and retinal ganglion cell death caused by glaucoma. Glaucoma is a major eye disease characterized by pathology of the optic nerve and loss of retinal ganglion cells. The main risk factor is increased intra ocular pressure. This suggests that mechanical forces contribute to the death of the retinal ganglion cells in glaucoma. In his PhD project he will study the mechanobiology of these cells with the aim of finding new treatment options for glaucoma.

Steven Vermeulen

Steven Vermeulen

PhD student at the MERLN Institute.

Engineering the tendon fibroblast micro-environment by surface topographies

With a background in Alzheimer genetics, Steven started a PhD in the field of biomedical engineering in 2016 and has since focused on understanding and implementing molecular biology in the field of regenerative medicine. His main focus is to elucidate the mechanobiology of tendon fibroblasts. These cells provide the structural building blocks of tendons and are also involved in tissue regeneration when damage occurs. Tendon repair is however often characterized by scar formation and results in permanently weakened tendon tissue. The incomplete understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms hinders clinicians to provide full medical support. By combining molecular biology techniques and different surface topographies he aims to elucidate the complex interplay between mechanical forces, intracellular pathways and the biochemical responses these provoke. These new insights will allow a better understanding of mesenchymal stem cell differentiation towards this lineage and the subsequent phenotypical maintenance useful in the field of tendon regenerative medicine.

Ayşegül Dede

Ayşegül Dede

PhD Student at the MERLN Institute.

Controlling the tendon fibroblast phenotype by understanding tendon physiology

Ayşegül joined cBITE in February, 2017. In her PhD, she is going to focus on the generation of optimal decellularized 3D scaffolds and application of the mechanical loadings such as stretching to the created scaffolds for mesenchymal stem cells differentiation towards the tendogenic lineage. Further she’s going to investigate the interplay between most optimal surface stiffness, topography, decellularized tendon matrices and mechanical loading that elicit mesenchymal stem cell differentiation towards the tenogenic lineage, and ultimately obtain the ideal tendon transplants. Ideal decellularized 3D scaffolds can eliminate the immune reactions of host tissues to the transplanted tissue which generally happens as a result of native tissue transplants. Moreover, they can be used as ideal transplants since they can reduce the risk or disease transmission from donor to host.

Urandelger (Urnaa) Tuvshindorj

Urandelger (Urnaa) Tuvshindorj

PhD student at the MERLN Institute.

Binary coded, digital biointerfaces – a next generation biomaterials approach with spatially complex subcellular patterns of discrete surface and near-surface properties

In 2009 Urnaa started her bachelor studies in Chemical Engineering at Gazi University (Turkey). During her studies she became interested in material science and started working in the surface chemistry lab. After finishing her bachelor’s degree in 2013, she started her master’s degree in Material Science and Nanotechnology at Bilkent University. During her master she worked on organically modified silica nanostructure based functional surfaces. In 2016 she started a PhD project in Maastricht where she will be developing binary coded digital bio-interfaces with subcellular discrete patterned surfaces using micro- and nanofabrication tools to investigate cell-material interactions.

Linfeng (Joseph) Li

Linfeng (Joseph) Li

PhD student at the MERLN Institute.

Computational deconstruction of the shades of trophoblast stem cells

Joseph grew up in China and entered the Medical School of Tsinghua University in 2009 majoring in Biomedical Engineering. In 2013 he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree with the research project “Differentiation of stimulus frequency oto-acoustic emissions in different extraction methods”, in Tsinghua University of China in 2013. He continued for his Master’s Degree in the Acoustics and Cognitive Engineering Lab of the Medical School in Tsinghua University. In his postgraduate years, he focused on the research of auditory evoked potentials, especially the middle latency responses. He joined the cBITE group in October 2016 but spent his first half year at the Broad Institute in the USA. Linfeng is co-supervised by Jan de Boer and Nicolas Rivron of the CTR department.

His research focuses on trophoblast stem cells (TSCs) biology, in which TopoChip technology will be used to guide trophoblast stem cell differentiation as close to the trophoblast phenotype as possible. With theory in mechanobiology and various computational methods, such as machine learning, the TSC phenotype is studied under different situations.

Kerbaï Saïd Eroumé

Kerbaï Saïd Eroumé

PhD student at the MERLN Institute.

Image-based computational modelling of cell-topography induced cell behavior

With a background in veterinary medicine, Kerbaï obtained a masters in bioinformatics in 2017 from the University of Leuven, Belgium. His research focus was on using several sigmoidal curve modelling approaches for the improvement qPCR within a DNA methylation screening protocol. He also holds a masters in epidemiology from the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium. There, as he puts it, “his passion for the quantitative aspects life sciences” was ignited. His research aimed at using multiple correspondence analysis for food safety.

He joined cBITE in September 2017 and his research mainly focuses on investigating the spatio-temporal aspects of mechanotransduction pathways via combined life-cell imaging and computational modelling. Computational model validation via several perturbation tests in which specific pharmacological inhibitors are investigated both in-silico and in-vitro, constitutes an important component of his research. It is expected that fundamental insights into the mechanotransduction pathways could lead to controlled interactions at biomaterial-cell interface. Moreover, via optimal topographical design of biomaterial surfaces this could unlock novel opportunities for improved implant surfaces.

Jasia King

Jasia King

PhD student at the MERLN Institute.

Development of a platform for kidney organoid culture using microfluidics, cell mechanobiology and imaging techniques

Jasia was raised in St. Lucia, W.I. and moved to Canada in 2012, where she obtained her Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering in 2016 at Dalhousie University. In 2017, she graduated with a Masters in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Strathclyde, Scotland. Here she found a great interest in Tissue Engineering and Biofluids. In her Master’s thesis, she investigated the changes in the mechanical properties of collagen type-I matrices populated by 3T3 fibroblasts in incubation. She has joined the teams at cBITE, CTR and RegMed XB in November 2017. Her research focuses on designing a microfluidic platform for a kidney organoid culture device to further develop a bioengineered kidney. She will utilise both computational and experimental techniques to investigate the design parameters of the platform.

Contact

  • cBITE-laboratory for Cell Biology-Inspired Tissue Engineering
  • MERLN Institute
  • Maastricht University
Universiteitssingel 40
6229 ER Maastricht
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