ERC Starting Grant for Tom de Greef

Tom de Greef has been awarded a Starting Grant of some 1.8 million euros by the European Research Council (ERC). De Greef’s work concentrates on synthetic biology, a field in which he is working on a method for the quicker reprogramming of cells.

Tom de Greef will be working on a method to significantly accelerate research in the field of synthetic biology. Synthetic biology concerns reprogramming cells so that they can exercise other functions, for example for medical purposes. Currently, researchers constantly make minor adjustments to the biochemical networks of the cell and then examine the effects. This time-consuming procedure in general takes several weeks.

De Greef wants to take some of this research outside of the cell itself, bringing the biochemical networks outside the cell in order to subsequently optimize the molecular interactions much faster, using the very latest microfluidic methods. Then by placing the biochemical networks back into the cell, he can see whether they behave similarly there. He hopes that the reprogramming of cells for therapeutic applications can be accelerated in this way. It is also an approach that provides more insight into the molecular processes and the information-processing behavior of biochemical networks in the cell.