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The 10 top bioengineering stories of 2018

Following Cees Dekker (in 2003) and Mark van Loosdrecht (in 2014), molecular biophysicist Marileen Dogterom is the third top bioengineering scientist from TU Delft to be awarded this highest distinction in Dutch science.

Pouyan Boukany from the Applied Sciences department of Chemical Engineering was awarded two million euros for research into the mechanisms of cancer metastasis. Chirlmin Joo of the applied Sciences department of Bionanoscience was awarded 1.8 million euros for research into a new gene processing technique.

A campaign by the Delft University Fund raised nearly 150 thousand euros to help BEI PI Stan Brouns achieve his dream: to set up the Netherlands’ first phage bank. Phages are the natural enemies of bacteria and in the future could potentially be used as an alternative to traditional antibiotics in the treatment of bacterial infections. 

Super-resolution fluorescence microscopy can provide more detailed imaging of living cells. Up to now the resolution limit at which structures could be observed was 10-20 nanometres, but a smart adaptation of the technique by TU Delft researchers makes it possible to focus on structures just 3 nanometres across.

During the World Water Week at the end of August Mark van Loosdrecht and Bruce Rittmann (Arizona State University) were awarded the Stockholm Water Prize for their water treatment processes based on micro-organisms.

March saw the kick-off of the Delft Bioengineering Institute. During the BioDate part of the programme, 45 BEI PIs took part in a speed-dating session. This session produced 15 approved project proposals, each of which have been allocated 2.5 thousand euros by the institute so they can be executed.

Cryo-electron microscopy generates high-resolution 3D images of interacting proteins at near-atomic level. NWO is supporting the CRYO3BEAMS project, which also involves industrial partners Delmic and Demcon-Kryoz, with 810 thousand euros from the top sector HTSM.

CRISPR-Cas makes gene editing easier, but wrong use of the technology can also cause unwanted DNA mutations. Researchers at TU Delft discovered the underlying mechanism for this and produced a checklist to prevent its activation.

In 2017 the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences appointed Merle de Kreuk as Professor of Environmental Technology. She gave her inaugural address in May 2018. 

In December Clarivate published the Highly Cited Researchers list for 2018: an overview of the most cited researchers within a particular field. The list contains eight TU Delft scientists, including Stan Brouns (microbiology), Cees Dekker (cross-field) and Mark van Loosdrecht (environment/ecology).