The Biological Soft Matter group is an experimental research group that focuses on the physical properties of living cells.

Our central aim is to understand the physical mechanisms that govern the self-organization and (active) mechanical properties of the cell’s cytoskeleton. We have two main research lines:

  • Cytoskeletal model systems: we reconstitute minimal cells from purified cytoskeletal proteins within cell-sized microchambers or liposomes. This approach enables us to dissect the roles of polymer physics, motor protein activity, and active filament (de)polymerization.
  • Cellular mechanoresponse: we study living cells inside extracellular matrices that mimic the cells’ natural tissue environment. Our aim is to understand the mechanisms that underlie cellular mechanosensing and -response.

Key technologies in our lab are advanced microscopy and quantitative image analysis, optical tweezer manipulation, optical microrheology, and rheology. We strive to learn biological design principles that can be applied to new supramolecular materials with biomimetic properties, such as the incredible strength or active nature of living cells. At the same time, we contribute a physics component to the fields of mechanobiology and tissue engineering.

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