The January 25 Brightlands Science Lecture was given by Prof. dr. Marileen Dogterom, one of the pioneers in biomolecular physics. She told why it is important that scientists are involved in building a synthetic cell.
The cell is the basic nucleus of every living organism. Dogterom currently leads a research project to synthesize a living cell, based on the motto: “What I cannot create, I do not understand” (attributed to the American physicist Richard Feynman). The research question is: “Can we build a living cell from lifeless components, and in doing so can we understand how life works?”
First, we must define what life is. Dogterom did not take a philosophical point of view, but a practical one. A cell is considered alive when it is fueling (taking energy and material from an external source), processes DNA and when it can divide.
Scientist must have insight in the structure and dynamics of cells to be able to copy this in a synthetic cell. Dogterom gave examples of the progress in area. Still much research is required about building a synthetic cell, but there are opportunities along the way, for instance in drug development. Because of this potential, the research project is quite relevant.
More information: www.basyc.nl.
Prof. Dr. Marileen Dogterom leads the Department of Bionanoscience of the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience Delft, an institute related to the Delft University of Technology. And she is a Board Member of the KNAW. She was awarded the Suffrage Science Award from the Medical Research Council in the United Kingdom for her scientific results and her ability to inspire others.
The Kickstarter Lecture was given by Dr. Rong Wang, researcher at Faculty of humanities and sciences at Maastricht University and Brightlands Materials Center. She presented her insights in the potential of biomaterials for 3D printing in tissue engineering.
After the lectures, there was opportunity for the attendants to discuss personally with Prof. Dogterom and Dr. Wang.
More information about the Brightlands Science Lectures.