Five 20k grants for cross-campus bioengineering research projects

Since 2020, Delft Bioengineering Institute (BEI) organizes a cross-campus call for interdisciplinary research projects in the field of bioengineering. This year, twelve teams of BEI PIs sent in a proposal. A peer review by the submitting PIs themselves resulted in the following five excellent projects, that will each be granted with €20.000 by Delft Bioengineering Institute.

>> Toward infection-free 3D printed implants

Additive manufacturing techniques – also called 3D printing – are extremely valuable in the development of personalized orthopaedic implants. But since these implants have a large surface area, the risk of bacterial contaminations is high. In order to protect implants against pathogens, we need to develop antimicrobial surface treatments. One of the research gaps in this field is that on the molecular level, the interplay of antimicrobial materials with various strains of bacteria is not well understood. Therefore, in this project, Robin de Kruijf (TNW/RST), Iulian Apachitei (3mE/BME) and Peter-Leon Hagedoorn (TNW/BT) will join forces to determine exactly how pathogens interact with coated bio-functionalized implants, taking an next step towards optimizing 3D printed implants for clinical applications.

Project title: Protecting 3D printed implants from antimicrobial-resistant infections: The effect of iron oxide nanoparticles on pathogens
BEI PIs: Robin de Kruijff (TNW/Radiation Science & Technology), Iulian Apachitei (3mE/Biomechanical Engineering) and Peter-Leon Hagedoorn (TNW/Biotechnology)

>> Imaging the human heart

To treat cardiac disease, an improved understanding of the underlying biophysical processes in the healthy or diseased patient heart is imperative. Physics-based heart modelling produces novel insights into these processes, and as such provides important opportunities for improved diagnosis, prognosis, treatment planning, and medical device design. However, the development of personalized heart models and subsequent simulations often requires lengthy manual setups, from image labelling through to generating the finite element model and assigning subject-specific boundary conditions. In this project, Mathias Peirlinck (3mE/BME) and Nergis Tomen (EWI/IS) combine forces in order to set up a machine learning pipeline that automates this process. If successful, this project takes an important step forward to finally bring physics-based heart modelling to the patient.

Project title: Image2Heart: Automated statistical cardiac shape analysis and physics based model generation from medical imaging data
BEI PIs: Mathias Peirlinck (3mE/Biomechanical Engineering) and Nergis Tomen (EWI/Intelligent Systems)

>> A gentle super-resolution methodology for novel tissue imaging

Fluorescence super-resolution microscopy has already had tremendous success in revealing cellular organization of for example the neuronal cytoskeleton and mitochondrial architecture. However, many techniques perform well only in thin samples, and under optimized imaging conditions. For biomedical applications, there is a growing need to perform experiments in more physiological conditions with living samples of extended depth such as tissues. In this project, Kristin Grußmayer (TNW/BN), who specializes in Super-resolution Optical Fluctuation Imaging (SOFI) and Carlas Smith (3mE/DCSC), who recently constructed a specialized light sheet microscope with adaptive optics for aberration correction (SOLEIL), combine forces in a novel approach that will enable new biology to be explored in Delft.

Project title: A gentle super-resolution methodology for novel tissue imaging
BEI PIs: Kristin Grußmayer (TNW/Bionanoscience) and Carlas Smith (3mE/DCSC)

>> Towards improved membrane separation for wastewater treatment

With the growth of human population and industrial activities, we find an increase of detrimental compounds in our wastewater streams, such as pharmaceuticals, arsenic and copper. Although they are detected in traces, these compounds are highly toxic and potentially carcinogenic, posing a significant threat to ecosystem and public health. Membrane separation is a promising method for removal of these compounds. However, their application is limited by for example low permeability and high energy consumption. Inspired by biological cell membranes, which possess highly charged surfaces keeping charged molecules from diffusing across the membrane and including photocatalytic moieties, Hanieh Bazyar (3mE/P&E) and Baris Kumru (LR/ASM) will join forces to take the first step in developing Multifunctional Anti-fouling Photocatalytic (MAP) membranes for removal of both small organic micropollutants and heavy metal ions from wastewater.

Project title: Multi-functional Anti-fouling Photocatalytic (MAP) Membranes for Wastewater Treatment
BEI PIs: Hanieh Bazyar (3mE/Process & Energy) and Baris Kumru (LR/Aerospace Structures & Materials)

>> Identifying the role of physical interactions in the spread of cancer cells

Cancer cell invasion into surrounding tissues is a critical step at the early stages of cancer metastasis, which is responsible for over ninety percent of cancer-related deaths. Biomechanical processes including cancer cell adhesion, migration, deformation, stiffness, and detachment play key roles in the metastatic process. To understand and ultimately prevent metastasis, we need to understand how tumor cells interact physically with their environment, both as individual cells and collectively. In this project, Pouyan Boukany (TNW/ChemE), Murali Ghatkesar (3mE/PME) and Timon Idema (TNW/BN) will combine their expertise in order to address this research gap by characterizing the biomechanical properties of both individual tumor cells in various environments and those of tumor-scale aggregates, and building a theoretical model that connects the two.

Project title: Identifying the role of physical interactions in the spread of cancer cells
BEI PIs: Pouyan Boukany (TNW/Chemical Engineering), Murali Ghatkesar (3mE/Precision and Microsystems Engineering) and Timon Idema (TNW/Bionanoscience)