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April 29, 2020

Interview with Jan de Boer on the Platform for Therapeutic Biomaterials Discovery

“The Platform for Therapeutic Biomaterial Discovery is the hub where the minds and technology of TU/e meet. Biologists, material scientists, and computational scientist join forces to discover new therapeutic materials.” Jan de Boer
https://www.tue.nl/en/research/research-groups/biointerface-science/platform-for-therapeutic-biomaterials-discovery/

For those who did not know it yet there is a remarkable platform and infrastructure available for your work on therapeutic biomaterials! In an interview with Jan de Boer, co-founder of the PTBD, he illustrates the value of this platform.

Who are you and what is your background?
My name is Jan de Boer, professor at the department of Biomedical Engineering, where I lead the research group BioInterface Science. I am a biologist from training but have been working for over 15 years with engineers to improve biomedical materials. Most people probably know me from the TopoChip, which is a high-throughput platform to screen bio-active surface topographies for their effect on cellular processes.

What type of research do you do?
I am interested in the way cells respond to biomedical materials, and try to discover correlations between chemical and physical properties of biomaterials and the physiological response of the cells that are in contract with them. With that knowledge we can improve the performance of medical implants and biomaterials for therapeutic applications.

What and why this platform?
Patricia Dankers and I started this platform last year to bundle the knowledge and infrastructure in Eindhoven on discovery-driven research. We try to attract and engage TU/e researchers whose expertise is useful for biomaterial discovery. Think about techniques such as microfabrication (Jaap den Toonder), data science (Tom de Greef, Natal van Riel), digital pathology (Mitko Veta) or nanoparticles (Lorenzo Albertazzi and Roy van der Meel). Their expertise can boost already existing research on heart valves (Carlijn Bouten), regenerative strategies for tendons (Jasper Foolen) and intervertebral discs (Keita Ito) and kick start new research initiatives.

Last year we organized a kick-off meeting for the PTBD. A great number of researchers from within Eindhoven, with links to our platform, were present. It illustrated the overlap in research topics and the value of this platform! The platform should unite researchers having their core work on the topic, but also researchers working on the interface of different topics. That is the reason why we want to bring it to MDR scientists. Scientists within MDR should be aware of the possibility to work together and to use the facilities of the TU/e! Besides a lot of scientific and technical expertise, TU/e has a unique infrastructure through the labs of the Institute for Comlex Molecular Systems, the Material Technology Insitutue, the Nanolab and the Cell and Tissue Lab.

Will you aim at people outside of Eindhoven?
Yes, definitely. The focus now is to align research within TU/e, then engage corporate partners in the Brainport region and academic partners throughout the Netherlands. For instance, immunoengineering is a research focus area at TU/e and we actively seek collaboration with immunologists in Nijmegen. The TU/e is a technical university, so we have a lot of technical expertise and broadening this with other expertises in the long term would be great.

How do you reach people and how can they be part of the platform?
We organize different activities: scientiefic conferences, meetings and lectures. Our yearly symposium attracted around 60 persons last year. A website is also under construction to inform people about our activities and involved researchers.

If you want more information, please contact me at j.d.boer@tue.nl.