Associate Professor

Tom de Greef

When we learn to control the flow of biological information and use it to our advantage, we will reach the pinnacle of the Information Age.

Group / Unit
Computational Biology
Floor / room

Research Profile

Tom de Greef is Associate Professor of Synthetic Biology in the department of Biomedical Engineering. Work in the Synthetic Biology group (7 PhD students, 2 post-docs) is directed at the bottom-up construction of basic cellular functions from well-characterized biological components, and the development of novel biological computing devices that can enhance signal-processing capabilities of natural and synthetic cells. This involves the design and construction of integrated genetic, protein or DNA-based circuits, either in a cell-free environment or in living cells, capable of autonomously performing useful functions. To achieve this goal, a multidisciplinary approach is employed that combines elements from DNA/RNA nanotechnology, genetic engineering, microengineering and the modelling and simulation of biomolecular networks. Ultimately, advances in synthetic biology will allow the development of functional living and hybrid technologies such as biological robots, synthetic cells or augmented natural cells, that can be interfaced with the human body to detect disease biomarkers and allow autonomous, closed-loop therapeutic functions. 

Academic Background

Tom de Greef studied Biomedical Engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e, the Netherlands), where he received his MSc degree cum laude in 2004. He then started his PhD research at the TU/e department of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry, where he graduated in 2008 on a thesis on novel polymeric materials based on quadruple hydrogen-bonding motifs, supervised by professors E. W. (Bert) Meijer and Rint Sijbesma. He subsequently moved to the Computational Biology group at the TU/e department of Biomedical Engineering (TU/e) headed by Prof. Peter Hilbers, for postdoctoral research on self-assembling systems from a computational perspective. In 2010, he became assistant professor and in 2016 he was promoted to associate professor. In 2013, Tom de Greef was a visiting scholar in the group of Prof. David Weitz at Harvard University (Cambridge, USA), working on protein affinity screening using droplet microfluidics. In 2012 and 2013 the Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research (NWO) awarded him a VENI grant and an ECHO-STIP grant, respectively. In 2015 he received an ERC starting Grant and in 2016 an NWO VIDI grant. Tom de Greef is a core member of the Institute for Complex Molecular Systems (ICMS), a core member of the Dutch Gravitation program "Functional Molecular Systems" and a junior faculty member of the Gravitation program "Materials-Driven Regeneration". He received the 2017 Cram Lehn Pedersen prize in supramolecular chemistry, and in 2018 he was awarded a Microsoft PhD scholarship for the development of a DNA computer.

Educational Activities

  • Synthetic and systems biology
  • Project Computational biology
  • DBL Computational biology
  • Simulation of biochemical systems
  • Bachelor final project Computational Biology
  • Introduction Organic Chemistry

Ancillary Activities

No ancillary activities