Chemic Maarten Merkx at the World Economic Forum

Maarten Merkx was the only Dutch scientist to be invited to speak at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss Davos, a yearly meeting of worldleaders, international businessworld, artists, journalists and scientists. He received this special invitation from the European Research Council (ERC), of whom he received a consolidator grant in 2011 and a proof of concept grant in 2014 to translate the results of his research into an innovative solution.

During the forum, he pointed out what is so special about synthetic biology, his research in particular and what he aims to accomplish in the following years. His short presentation and talks with other invitees during the forum resulted in interesting new contacts and it brought on some interesting publicity in the Dutch newspapers:

A (Dutch) article about his visit to the forum in Het Eindhovens Dagblad

Last Saturday, Maarten Merkx was the subject of the (Dutch) column “Nieuw gezicht” in De Volkskrant

Dr. Maarten Merkx
The research group led by Dr. Maarten Merkx is part of the Laboratory of Chemical Biology at the department of Biomedical Engineering. His group makes light-emitting proteins which can be used to track biological processes in living cells. Furthermore, they research the development of new sensor proteins for antibody diagnostics to detect for example infectious diseases, auto immune diseases or allergies by measuring the presence of antibodies in the blood.

Antibody diagnostics
The currently used technologies are very time-consuming and require the use of complex machines. With the new sensor technology of Merkx, antibodies can be detected directly in the blood serum, without the time-consuming incubation and washing steps. This makes the test simple and low in costs, and in principle implementable for every antibody. Furthermore, the test can become accessible; the test could for example be made in the shape of paper strips to enable easy detection of certain diseases. There are many possible applications for this technique, for example uncomplicated testing of patients in third world countries.

The laboratory tests have so far been successful and currently work has started on the next step of working with clinical samples. This is the first step towards (clinical) application.