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

Prasanna Padmanaban is currently working as a PhD student in the Department of Biomechanical Engineering under the supervision of Prof. Jeroen Rouwkema. His research focuses on the development of computational models and in vitro assays for controlling vascular network growth within artificial tissue constructs.

Prasanna received his Bachelor Engineering degree (2011) from Anna University, India with specialization in Biotechnology. He worked on quantification of Ibuprofen in human plasma by HPLC method for his bachelor thesis at Biocon, Bengaluru. In parallel with his bachelor studies, he also obtained Post Graduate Diploma in Nanobiotechnology from LSFI, India. In 2012, he worked as a Sales Engineer Trainee dealing with Pre-sales activities of liquid handling consumables at Thermofisher Scientific Bengaluru, India. Later in 2013, he started working as a MEMS Design Engineer at Society for Integrated Circuit Technology and Applied Research (SITAR) India, where he has developed Lab-on-chip devices for medical applications.

In 2014, he started the Elite Master Course in Advanced Materials and Processes at Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. During his master studies (2015-2016) he worked on nanoelectrodes fabrication and microfluidic integration of photonic crystal fibers for biosensing and particle guidance applications under the supervision of Prof. Philip Russell at Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Erlangen. Later in 2016, he received an Erasmus traineeship aboard scholarship for which he worked at UCB Belgium. At UCB, he worked on optimization of cell culture and bioreactor systems for monoclonal antibody production. Also, he received an Focused Recognition Award for enabling his team to make data-driven decision on the cell line assessment study. In 2017, he worked on spatial fractionation of RNA in an inhomogeneous temperature gradient, related to the origin of life experiments under the supervision of Dr. Moritz Kreysing at Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) Dresden.

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

Maud Kerstholt obtained her bachelor degree at Utrecht University / UMC Utrecht. For her bachelor thesis, she studied the role of the immune system in (pathological) bone remodelling. In order to be able to better study the complexity of such processes, she decided in 2017 to continue her studies with a master Bioinformatics at Wageningen University & Research. To keep the link to her biomedical interests, she added her second master in Regenerative Medicine & Technology at the Graduate School of Life Sciences of Utrecht University in 2018. She collaborates with the lab of Jeroen Rouwkema for her bioinformatics master thesis, under supervision of Prasanna Padmanaban. In this project, she will use computer models to study the endothelial cell response to chemical and mechanical stimuli.

Previous members

Hi I’m Martin Leonhardt, a biomedical engineering student at the vascularization lab of the biomechanical engineering group. In my master’s assignment I am trying to point out the influences of certain shapes (diameter, curvature, branching, etc.) of blood vessels on the development of new sprouts – called angiogenesis.

In 2017 I carried out my internship at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering of the ETH Zurich, analyzing Schistosoma m. on a microfluidic platform in collaboration with the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.

In my former position, till August 2015, I was working as a test engineer for Dresden MOS design GmbH. I was responsible for the development of test hard- and software for automotive ICs (integrated circuits) and for the standardization of those tasks on a specific test platform (T2000) – no, not the liquid metal assassin (T1000) from Terminator 2 – Judgement Day.

I received my first degree in electrical engineering (Dipl.-Ing. (FH)) in 2011 from the University of Applied Sciences in Dresden (HTW Dresden), while working at the Klippel GmbH – a specialist for audio R&D and mass production measurement kits.

My general interests are related to all sorts of engineering disciplines and natural sciences, but also more and more metal machining. Apart from that I appreciate dancing as a member of Arabesque (Modern Dance) and being creative when it comes to cooking and baking. Of course I also like to share my prepared stuff with friends and colleagues.

Julia Perea Paizal (1993) finished her Bachelor in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Málaga (Spain). Her Bachelor’s Thesis focused on the modeling of the neuronal circuit of the reflex arc using block-oriented programming techniques. During her Bachelor, she worked in the medical company Macrimasa-Pharma focusing on the research and validation of electro medical equipment. After that she did an internship in the University of Lüneburg (Germany), working in the micro and nano characterisation of micro fibres for biomedical applications.

In 2016 she started a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering in the UT with a specialization in Bionanotechnology and Advanced Biomanufacturing. During her Master, she was a research intern at NIFE institute (Hannover, Germany), investigating the properties of decellularised porcine pericardium scaffolds for tissue engineered heart valves replacements. She is currently pursuing her Master thesis in the Vascularization Lab, where her research focuses on the induction of angiogenesis through suspension bioprinting.

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.

Ana Luísa Silva (1995) is a Biomedical Engineering student from the University of Minho, Portugal, currently finishing her Master’s Degree in Biomaterials, Rehabilitation and Biomechanics. At the 3B’s Research Group she started the development of her master project working on the potential of hyaluronic acid oligomers for vascularization in tissue engineering. She started working at the Vascularization Lab in February 2018 as part of her student exchange at the University of Twente, under the daily supervision of Deepti Rana. Her project consists of optimizing and evaluating cell response to modified hyaluronic acid coatings for the promotion of angiogenesis, as well as creating cell guiding patterning approaches. After finishing her project in June 2018, she will return to the 3B’s Research Group and to the University of Minho to finish her studies.

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.