Research agenda

The scientific agenda of ICMS consists of three lines of research:

1. Functional molecular systems (program leader prof.dr. Bert Meijer)
Can we make artificial life? This question is among the most intriguing questions. Making functional molecular systems is a key step towards solving societal questions related to food, environment, energy and health.

Within ICMS scientists with backgrounds in molecular sciences, engineering and theory closely woek together on topics that are highly relevant to make progress in the field of functional molecular systems. The laboratories offer all equipment needed for characterization of the structures made, on different time and length scales.

The functional molecular systems line within ICMS consists of six programs:

  • Mesoscale characterization
  • Theoretical foundation and modeling
  • Functional materials
  • Multi-step non covalent synthesis and supramolecualr systems
  • Novel energy systems
  • Functional biomolecular systems

2. Bio-inspired engineering (program leaders M.W.J. Prins and dr. P.Y.W. Dankers)
Bio-inspired engineering is a young discipline, where we use nature as a source of inspiration and apply technology to create new technical concepts and applications in healthcare, bioengineering and energy.

Fundamental knowledge and understanding of the complex biological processes are crucial for progress in the area of bio-inspired engineering. A full understanding of the underlying mechanisms of the observed phenomena, and making quantitative what is known qualitatively is key. Furthermore all levels – molecular, cellular, tissue – have to be studied in coherence. One of the major challenges is to effectively connect the different length and time scales.

The bio-inspired engineering line within ICMS consists of three programs:

• Biomaterials and regenerative medicine: We aim at the repair and regeneration of diseased or damaged tissues and organs. Research concentrates on the understanding of the impact of cell-environmental stimuli (mechanical, electrical and biochemical) on signaling and function of (stem) cells, and the tissue formation by these cells. The results are used to design and evaluate novel approaches for (in-situ) tissue regeneration, including the design of biomaterials that will guide ultimate tissue composition, organization and mechanical properties.

 Biomolecular diagnostics: We explore technologies to detect extremely low concentrations of proteins in cells,  blood or plasma in order to develop very sensitive diagnostic tools. Nanotechnologies for biophysical studies are investigated as they have potential to be applied in integrated medical biosensors. Next to engineered proteins, we investigate technologies based on the manipulation and detection of particles with a biochemically active surface coating. The particles allow us to capture and actively transport biological materials, to control and detect the formation of biomolecular bonds, and to quantify the properties of molecules and cells in samples of complex biochemical composition.

• Engineered human disease models: We mimic physiological functions of cells and tissues at a small scale (a chip) to study the behaviour of and interaction between cells and tissues under well-controlled conditions all at high throughput. The technology enables us to investigate pathological conditions, and we are particularly interested in effect of interventions (e.g. mechanical, pharmaceutical or radiation) on cell and tissue functionality and tissue-tissue interactions.

3. Complexity Hub (program leaders prof.dr. Rutger van Santen and prof.dr. Mark Peletier)
Complexity science is  currently rapidly developing and finds application in a plethora of different application areas. At the horizon new complexity science paradigms appear due to  interesting new methodological developments. The field  is especially attractive because it provides a vehicle to bridge different disciplinary activities from apparently very unrelated fields. It is an approach that connects the exact sciences with sociological sciences and even the humanities. It stimulates   interdisciplinary research with a focus on technological and societal questions.
At the TU/e important research is ongoing on complexity science and closely related areas. It is distributed  over a number of different departments and institutes. Since such scientific activities rapidly develop and national as well as internationals initiatives become of increasing importance, it is important to unite.
The Complexity Hub  ICMS will be a meeting point for TU/e complexity scientists, with the aim to increase impact and infrastructure of complexity science research.