Our research is focused on obtaining a quantitative understanding of the functioning of industrial microorganisms under the harsh dynamic conditions of the large scale industrial bioreactor. To achieve this we apply both computational and experimental tools.
My group has obtained an excellent reputation within the field of metabolic systems engineering in the international scientific community, combining both theory and experimentation. Especially with respect to quantitative metabolomics and the development of experimental and theoretical tools for the unravelling of in-vivo metabolic regulation of microbial cells.
To my opinion our research should be strongly driven by the need to develop sustainable production processes, based on microbial fermentations using renewable feedstocks, to replace existing chemical processes thereby significantly reducing chemical waste production and CO2 emission.
I am convinced that the potential of the microbial cell factory for the production of pharmaceuticals as well as fine and bulk chemicals is immense and that we are still at the very beginning of its exploitation. Full exploitation of the microbial cell factory requires predictive (re)design of the relevant parts of microbial metabolism. The genomics revolution has supplied us with the experimental tools to precisely modify the metabolism of microbes for new and improved product formation. Intuitive application of these tools usually leads to surprises, showing our lack of understanding. What is still needed in order to apply the rapid expanding genetic toolbox in an efficient and highly successful manner, is a quantum leap in the predictive understanding of microbial metabolism and its regulation. The core of my research is therefore be aimed at combining experimentation and modelling, thus paving the way for the model based exploitation of the full potential of the microbial cell factory.