Principal Investigator

Jeroen Rouwkema is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomechanical Engineering at the University of Twente. Jeroen received his doctoral degree from the University of Twente under the supervision of prof. Clemens van Blitterswijk. Prior to this, he worked 6 months in the lab of prof. Robert (Bob) Langer at MIT, USA. Between 2014 and 2015 he was also appointed as a Visiting Researcher at Harvard Medical School, USA, in the group of Prof. Ali Khademhosseini.

His expertise and interests are tissue engineering, vascularization, and the role that biomechanical signals play in these processes. He has published in multiple high-impact journals, including Nature Biotechnology (IF 41.5), Advanced Materials (IF19.0), TRENDS in Biotechnology (4x, IF 12.0), and PNAS (2x, IF 9.7). He has directed approximately € 3 million in research funding.

Jeroen has received a VENI fellowship from NWO, as well as an International Outgoing Fellowship, which is part of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions of the European Commission. In 2017 he received a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced grant. In 2017 he also received the TERMIS EU Robert Brown Early Career Principal Investigator Award.


Post-doctoral fellows

Nasim Salehi-Nik (1984) obtained her bachelor and master degrees in Chemical Engineering at the University of Tehran. In 2009 she started her PhD under a dual degree program with the University of Tehran and VU University Amsterdam. During her PhD study, she developed a flow-resistant and anti-thrombotic functional endothelial cell layer on the surface of silicone hollow fibers using silicone surface modification and fluid hydrodynamics modulation to improve the biocompatibility of artificial lungs. In the meantime, she gained knowledge of regenerative medicine through working on different projects with particular experience on biomimetic coatings, bioreactor design and computational approaches in bioreactors to model mass transfer and mechanical forces. In 2015 she started a postdoctoral position at Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences in which she worked on pre-vascularization of bone tissue-engineered grafts

In 2017, she started as a postdoc in the Biomechanical Engineering department under the supervision of Prof. Jeroen Rouwkema. Her research focuses on the development of vascular networks in artificial tissue constructs.


Doctoral candidates

Deepti Rana (1991) obtained her B. Tech and M. Tech degree in Nanotechnology at the Amity University, India. In 2014, she started working as a Research Fellow at the Centre for Stem Cells Research, Christian Medical College, Vellore, India. During this period, she mainly worked for the development of multi-scale (nano to micro to macro) biomaterials for the translational stem cell research, stem cell nanotechnology, tissue engineering and nanomedicine. She has developed different types of cell-laden hydrogel systems, such as cryogels (shape memory) and thermogels (injectable) suitable for the 3D culture of human bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells. Additionally, she has worked for the development of gradient hydrogel systems (stiffness and biomolecular gradients) for the high throughput screening of stem cells. She has published her research work in several peer-review journals, book chapters and conferences.

In 2017, she started as a PhD student in the Biomechanical Engineering department under the supervision of Prof. Jeroen Rouwkema. Her research focuses on the patterning of growth factors in space and time via hydrogel modifications for vascular tissue engineering.

Fabian Stein (1986) obtained his bachelor degree in Bioscience with specification in Molecular Biology and Physiology at the University of Potsdam in 2012. In his bachelor thesis at the Institute for biochemistry and biology he focused on the catalytic parameters of the two starch iso-branching enzymes AtBE2 and AtBE3. During his master he worked in different projects e.g. at the Berlin-Brandenburg-Centrum for regenerative therapies (BCRT) where he analyzed the immune competence of iPSCs and iPSC-derived cells. In 2015 he obtained his Master’s degree in Molecular Life Science with a specification in Medical Cell Biology at the University of Lübeck. For his thesis he worked in the biotech company co.don AG who are specialized in the regeneration of articular cartilage. He analyzed the mechanism of the self- adhesion abilities of their autologous cartilage 3D cell transplant chondrosphere®. After that, he worked in the Organ-on-the-Chip company TissUse GmbH to establish protocols for iPSC-derived endothelial cells among other things.

In 2017, he started as a PhD student in the Biomechanical Engineering department under the supervision of Prof. Jeroen Rouwkema. His research focuses on the effect of fluid flow profiles on the development and organization of vascular networks in artificial tissue constructs.
Vasileios Trikalitis (1990) obtained his bachelor degree in Material Science at the University of Patras in 2014. His thesis focused on the creation and confinement of molecular structures inside carbon nanotubes. In 2016 he obtained his Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering with a specialization in Tissue Regeneration and Bionanotechnology. His thesis was completed in the DBE (Developmental Bio Engineering) at the University of Twente in collaboration with the POF (Physics of Fluids) group. The focus of the thesis was the development of a novel 3D bioprinting technique named In Air Microfluidics (IAMF) which combined microfluidics and 3D printing principles with an aim to produce a tissue reconstruction platform. He has also worked as a research intern in the Danish Technical University (DTU) on the creation of cell-mimicking organelles that can conduct cascade reaction for the purpose of theranostics.

In 2017, he started as a PhD student in the Biomechanical Engineering department under the supervision of Prof. Jeroen Rouwkema. His research focuses on the development of vascular networks in artificial tissue constructs, using 3D (bio)printing approaches.
Jiena Zhang (1988) obtained her bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering in 2010 in China. In 2013 She started her Masters studying in Bioengineering in The University of Nottingham, where she did her final dissertation as part of a PhD project. In this project she was focusing on developing and testing bioreactors for perfusing culture of 3D tissue scaffolds. In 2015, she started working at Professor Nicola Elvassore’s lab at Shanghai Institute of Advanced Immunochemical Studies (SIAIS) at ShanghaiTech University. She was responsible for the designing and fabrication of the microfluidic chips for several applications in the lab. At the same time she was working on a project which was in collaboration with Dr. Richard A. Lerner’s group based at SIAIS, which involves using and developing mcirotechnologies for high-throughput screening of antibody library.

In 2017, she started as a PhD student in the Biomechanical Engineering department under the supervision of Prof. Jeroen Rouwkema. Her research focuses on the development of vascular networks in artificial tissue constructs using tissue building block approaches.

Master's degree students

Denise Marrero (1993) finished her Bachelor in Biomedical Engineering at Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) in 2016. As a bachelor student, she developed a therapeutic app to rehab patients with neuronal disorders. While finishing her degree, she worked as a Biomedical Technician at two hospitals in Barcelona.

In 2017, she started a Master program at the University of Twente and she is currently studying Biomedical Engineering with the specialization track of Bionanotechnology and Biomanufacturing. Nowadays, she is collaborating with Vascularization Lab under the supervision of Fabian Stein. Her interest is to study the influence of mechanical stimulation on cardiomyogenic differentiation.

Gary Shea (1994) finished his bachelor in 2016 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in NY, USA. In his bachelor, he studied biomedical engineering and participated in research investigating transient disruption of tight junctions in the blood-brain barrier. His interest later focused on development of a dynamic culture system incorporating shear stress to human brain microvascular endothelial cells to create barrier properties more representative of the physiological environment. Upon graduation, he worked as a research technician at MIT in a laboratory focused on single-cell RNA sequencing technology. He is currently pursuing a master's degree in biomedical engineering. In the Vascularization lab, Gary is interested in cellular self-organization and scaffold-free tissue engineering.

In 2016, Chiara Trenti (1994) finished her bachelor degree in Biomedical engineering at the Politecnico di Milano. For her bachelor thesis at the “Giulio Natta” Chemistry, Material and Chemical Engineering Department, she worked on the reconstruction of the nuclear envelope by the manual segmentation of transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images and studied the mechanical deformation of the nuclear pores, both in cells attached and in suspension. After that, she started her Master degree in Biomedical engineering with specialization in Biomechanics and Biomaterial at the Politecnico di Milano. As part of her student exchange at the University of Twente, she started her research project in the Vascularization Lab under the daily supervision of Fabian Stein in October 2017. Her project focuses on the effects of different fluid flow profiles on endothelial cells in microfluidic chips. After finishing her project in February 2018, she will go back to Milan to complete her studies.