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NWO Open Competition Domain Science-M Grant for the design of a biohybrid micromotor for autonomous directional motion

Date of news: 20 September 2022

Daniela Wilson, chair of the Systems Chemistry department within the Institute for Molecules and Materials (IMM) at Radboud University has been awarded an NWO Open Competition Domain Science-M Grant. This is a funding instrument of the Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research (NWO) aimed at research questions in or overlapping the fields of earth sciences, astronomy, chemistry, computer science, life sciences, physics and mathematics. Wilson will design a biohybrid micromotor for autonomous directional motion in the project entitled ‘Programming motility of bacteria-powered hydrogel microrobots for enhanced cargo delivery’. "We are very happy with the results of the grant competition and excited to work on this new research direction by taking the best from nature and combining its power into biohybrid systems for biomedical application."

Biohybrid micromotor

Micro and nanomotors which can move independently and directionally to precise places in the human body are hot topic studies in biomedical fields. As these motors cannot move on their own, they will need an “engine” within themselves to provide movement. Scientists are constantly looking for better ways for autonomous directional motion. Several methods have already been studied where bacterial cells are integrated within synthetic systems. However, these applications are in direct contact with the exterior environment and therefore they could influence the immune response negatively. In this research project, the team aims to design a biohybrid micromotor through the complete corpus encapsulation of microorganisms, such as the Escherichia coli (E. Coli) species, by use of novel microfluidic techniques. The goal is to test this novel microsystem in vitro as well as in vivo. Once the system has been verified, the team will then study more interesting strains with specific functions. Moreover, this approach allows further studies of the ability of such systems to sense and move collectively and the factors affecting their quorum sensing behaviour.

Systems chemistry & nanomedicine

Daniela Wilson is head of the Systems Chemistry department. The research group is part of the IMM and finds its inspiration in natural materials and processes. The group aims to develop synthetic tools, materials and systems to investigate emerging functions of self-assembled complex structures. The next significant challenge the group is addressing is the molecular design of autonomous systems inspired by natural systems that not only can move directionally at nanometer scale by harvesting different sources of energy but also can sense its environment and adapt to its changes. The ultimate goal is to design functional supramolecular structures and apply them in nanomedicine.

NWO Open Competition Domain Science-M

NWO Open Competition Domain Science-M (ENW-M) grants are intended for curiosity-driven scientific research of high quality. The ENW-M grant offers researchers the opportunity to elaborate original, innovative, risky ideas and to realise scientific innovations that can form the basis for the research themes of the future.

We warmly congratulate Daniela with her grant!

More information

For more information, please contact
Daniela Wilson, Daniela.wilson@ru.nl
IMM Communications: imm-communication@ru.nl