ERC Advanced Grant for Jan van Hest

Hest Van Jan 2014

Jan van Hest, Professor of Organic Chemistry, Radboud University, theme Nanomedicine  will receive an ERC Advanced Grant of two and a half million euros. This European research grant is allocated for research which he will conduct in the next five years. Van Hest will make artificial cells and cell components. 

Jan van Hest performs research at the crossroad of organic chemistry and biology. He focuses primarily on the design and synthesis of materials and processes. Due to the advance of chemical and synthetic biology, scientists can now create the smallest unit of life: the cell. With his ERC Advanced Grant, he will use new techniques such as self-assembly and protein engineering to develop new artificial cells and cell components.

“Our work will consist of exploring and applying artificial endosymbiosis,” says Van Hest. Endosymbiosis is the phenomenon in which a living organism lives symbiotically in a host organism. “First we will introduce artificial organelles or cell components into living cells. This is how we can make new cells with an added feature: hybrid cells.

“We will also build artificial cells which, through endosymbiosis, will mimic the behaviour of living cells. From a scientific perspective, this is of great importance because it will teach us how we can introduce new, compartmentalised processes into living organisms. In addition, these components could possible correct dysfunctional cellular processes, such as is the case with certain metabolic disorders, for instance.”

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