Talent grants for Anthal Smits and Rob Driessen

TU/e researchers dr.ir. Anthal Smits and ir. Rob Driessen both received a Talent grant for exceptionally talented researchers from CardioVascular Research Netherlands (CVON) and the Dutch Heart Foundation. The Talent program stimulates the scientific career of young researchers, working on research that is relevant for the development of a heart valve, tissue-engineered in the body from the body’s own cells, or in situ, within the 1Valve program.

Anthal Smits – Unraveling elastin

Assistant professor Anthal Smits received a grant worth 1 year of research (37,000 euros). Anthal wants to unravel the formation of elastic fibers, so-called elastin, during the regeneration of the heart valve. The elastin network is vital for good long-term functioning of the heart valve, however it’s more challenging to regenerate than collagen fibers. In his research he will also look at the role of inflammatory cells in the regenerative process. Anthal will use the grant to start and strengthen a collaboration with the research groups of Prof. Katja Schenke-Layland (Fraunhofer instituut, Stuttgart) and Dr Elena Aikawa (Harvard Medical School, Boston); both experts in this research field.

Rob Driessen – Influencing Notch signaling

PhD candidate Rob Driessen will use his grant (11,500 euros) to work on his research at the Karolinska Instituut in Sweden. Rob’s research focusses on the influence of the blood stream on Notch signaling in the cardiovascular system. Notch signaling is a molecular system which cells use to communicate with each other and is crucial for the development of the vascular system. Rob wants to study what influence the distance between the signal sending cells has on the communication system. The research group of Ana Teixeira in Sweden has showed in previous research with DNA origami that the distance between two molecules plays a large role in the cellular interaction in another communication system.

Anthal Smits and Rob Driessen both work in the research group Soft Tissue Biomechanics & Tissue Engineering of Prof. Carlijn Bouten at the department of Biomedical Engineering.