PhD students

PhD Students

Özge Begüm Akalin

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Biography: Begüm obtained her bachelor degree in Department of Chemical Engineering, Middle East Technical University (Turkey) and her master degree in Department of Biomedical Science and Engineering, Koc University (Turkey). In her master thesis, she studied the dynamics of single-cell motility on fibrous collagen containing semi-synthetic polyethylene glycol hydrogels. After obtaining her master degree, she started her research activities in PBM Group in 2016. During her PhD research, she focused on the application of photopolymerized acrylate-terminated urethane-based polyethylene oxide (PEO) hydrogel precursors (AUP) as porous scaffolds for meniscal tissue engineering while using deposition-based 3D printing. This approach enables to create a tissue engineered, patient specific 3D-printed meniscus with tunable physical properties not only via altering the design but also via altering the backbone molecular weight of the AUPs.

Current project: Acrylate-Terminated Urethane-Based Hydrogel Precursors for Meniscus Tissue Engineering

Nathan Carpentier

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Biography: Nathan graduated as Master of Science at the University of Antwerp in 2017. During the final year of his Masters degree, he performed his Master thesis at Janssen Pharmaceutica on the synthesis of small molecules in order to develop a drug to cure a certain viral disease. During his thesis Nathan really got interested in the process of drug development.

After his graduation, Nathan decided to start a PhD within the PBM research group. With his PhD he could combine his both interests in drug development and polymer chemistry.

His topic deals with the development of an in vitro model of the liver to detect the hepatotoxicity of drug compounds during the preclinical phase.

To obtain this goal he modifies polysaccharides and proteins towards crosslinkable hydrogel building blocks. These hydrogels are printed using different 3D-printing techniques to obtain scaffolds for hepatocyte seeding.

Current project: Acrylate-Terminated Urethane-Based Hydrogel Precursors for Meniscus Tissue Engineering

Fatma Nalan Cetin

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Biography: Nalan obtained a double Bachelor’s degree in Materials Science & Nanotechnology and Molecular Biology, Genetics & Bioengineering along with a minor degree in Chemistry from Sabancı University, Turkey. In 2022 she obtained her Master’s degree in Materials Engineering & Nanotechnology with a speacialization track in Polymer Engineering from Politecnico di Milano, Italy. In her master thesis, she investigated the effect of the ionic strength and the polymer concentration on the rheological properties of sodium alginate-based hydrogels developed for in vitro mucus models.

Currently, Nalan is doing her PhD in Chemistry at UGent in the group of Polymer Chemistry and Biomaterials in which she is working on smart polymer-based wound dressings with diagnostics and antimicrobial capabilities, collaborating with Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Research group of KU Leuven.

Current project: Smart Polymer-based Wound Dressings with Diagnostic and Antimicrobial Capabilities

Lauren De Grave

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Biography: In 2013, Lauren started her Bachelor’s in Chemistry at Hasselt University, after which she continued to a Master’s in Chemistry at KU Leuven. In 2018, she obtained her Master’s degree in Chemistry with specialization in organic synthesis after completing a Master’s thesis in the laboratory of Prof. Wim Dehaen. This research focused on the synthesis, functionalization and optimization of new thiacyclophane structures with the possibility to trap metal ions in its cavity and with a potential application in kidney dialysis. After graduating, she started working on a PhD project in polymer chemistry at KU Leuven in the research group of Prof. Mario Smet. This doctoral research focused on the development and optimization of several organic compounds (monomers, polymers, dispersants and additives) as organic matrix for the preparation of ceramic slurries with beneficial properties for 3D printing of dental prostheses. Currently, she's working on the project GREENER, which focuses on the development of a biobased and biodegradable alternative for the water-soluble and wide-spread polyacrylic acid.

Current project: GREENER

Lobke De Vos

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Biography: Lobke started her Bachelor of science in Chemistry at the University of Ghent in 2015 after which she continued with a Master’s in chemistry focussed on materials chemistry. Despite the major of her Master’s, she caught an interest in polymers for biomedical applications and by consequence performed her Master’s thesis within the PBM group. The research involved the synthesis, characterisation and processing of poly(alkylene terephthalates) to be used as cardiovascular bypass graft. After her graduation in June 2020, she stayed in the PBM research group and started working as a PhD researcher on an FWO project which includes the development and characterisation of shape-memory polymers and gelatine derivatives for corneal tissue engineering.

Current project: Introducing smart polymers in the field of corneal endothelial tissue engineering: solving a blinding disease

Jasper Delaey

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Biography: Jasper Delaey received his MSc. degree in chemistry from Ghent University in 2018. His research focusses on the application of biodegradable, shape-memory materials in corneal tissue engineering. He completed his thesis in and is currently pursuing his PhD in this topic. In 2019 he was award for the best master thesis by the Belgian Polymer Group (BPG) and the Royal Flemish Chemical Society (KVCV).

Current project: Smart polymers to tackle a blinding disease: Corneal endothelial tissue engineering

Gregorio Fantini

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Biography: Gregorio Fantini achieved a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Italy) in 2017 after which he decided to enrol in a Master’s programme in Chemical Sciences within the same institution. While completing his Master’s Degree, he was awarded with the 2018/2019 “MORE Overseas” scholarship as part of the exchange program established with Curtin University (Perth, WA, Australia), which allowed him to carry out the research activity for his thesis at Curtin in the group of Prof. Andrew B. Lowe, co-supervised by A/Prof. Massimiliano Massi. His research focused on “RAFT-synthesized Luminescent Copolymer-Rhenium (I) Hybrid Materials via Picolylamine-modified Poly(pentafluorophenyl acrylate)”, with potential application as probes in biological imaging. After graduating in 2020 with a score of 110/110 cum laude, he was awarded two consecutive research scholarships under the supervision of Fabrizio Roncaglia (University of Modena) in collaboration with LITOKOL S.p.A. and ITALBOX – Imballaggi S.p.A. as external partners involved on the projects “Design and functionalization of bio-based monomers” and “Development of improved starch derivatives with adhesive properties”. Gregorio has now joined the PBM group for a PhD project (Ghent University collaboration with ULB) on the development of photo-crosslinkable polymers responsive to visible light for cosmetics application.

 

Current project: Development of photo-crosslinkable, light-responsive polymers for cosmetic applications

Indi Geurs

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Biography: Indi Geurs obtained a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in bio-engineering in food science and nutrition at Ghent University. From 2017-2020 she worked as a researcher in the lab of Prof. Koen Dewettinck on a VLAIO O&O project in collaboration with Vandemoortele. During this project, she researched alternative ways to structure oils in order to decrease the amount of saturated fatty acids used in foods. After this she successfully applied for the position of PhD researcher in the FWO project working on cultured meat, named ‘Customeat’. Indi is currently developing a ‘smart matrix’ on which muscle cells can attach and grow into mature muscle fibers. The project is a collaboration between several labs of Ghent University and KULeuven. For more information on the Customeat project, its scientific consortium and Industrial Advisory Board check: https://food2know.org/projecten/customeat

Current project: CustoMeat

Coralie Gréant

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Biography: Coralie Gréant graduated as a Biomedical Engineer in 2016 in a joint program of Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Ghent University. She spent the first year of her career in a start-up company focusing on 3D-printing, where she cooperated with orthopedic surgeons in the context of bone tumor resections and reconstructions. Subsequently, she worked as an account manager in the Benelux, gaining sales experience in the Biotech and Biomedical industry. Coralie is currently performing a PhD at Ghent University in the group of polymer chemistry and biomaterials, in which she is focusing on 3D-printing of smart biomaterials towards minimally invasive breast reconstruction. She combines this with the coordination of the Interreg project MATMED, for which her main focus is to support SMEs in bringing their innovation to the market.

Current projects:

Smart biomaterials towards minimally invasive breast reconstruction

MATMED

XPECT-INX®

Shraavya Shastry Kallaje

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Biography: Shraavya obtained her Bachelors in Biomedical Engineering in 2016 from Visvesvaraya Technological University, Karnataka, India. She moved to Ghent, Belgium in 2017 to pursue MSc. In Biomedical Engineering at Ghent University, with a thesis focused on peripheral nerve regeneration using plasma treated polymeric conduits in the research group of Prof. Dr. Ir. Nathalie De Geyter (PLASMATS, Ghent University, Belgium). In 2019, Shraavya started as a research intern with Prof. Dr. Peter Dubruel, working on the project DERMA with Dr. Tom Gheysens and continuing further on her interest in biomaterials, she started a PhD with the group in 2020.

Current project: 3D printed biodegradable hydrogels for bridging the gap in nerve injuries

Martina Meazzo

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Biography: Martina graduated in 2017 in Biomedical Engineering at Genoa University (Italy) with a score of 103/110. After that, she continued to a Master’s in Biomaterials and Rehabilitation Engineering still at Genoa University and graduated in 2019 with a score of 110/110 cum laude. She performed her Master thesis traineeship in PBM and after that experience, she was given the opportunity to start a joint PhD between Gent University and Genoa University.

She's working the project BioMeniscus which aims the development of an artificial meniscus implant through 3D printing based on an innovative polymer with unique properties.

Current project: BioMeniscus - Development of an artificial meniscus through 3D polymer printing

Manon Minsart

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Biography: Manon graduated as a Master of Chemistry in July 2018. During her master thesis at the PBM group, she gained a strong interest for polymers and their plethora of biomedical applications, which have contributed immensely to improve human health. After her graduation, Manon was given the opportunity to stay and start a PhD in the PBM group. In December 2018, she obtained a FWO-SB fellowship titled ‘Development of a smart diagnostic antimicrobial hydrogel-based wound dressing’. Her project focuses on the development of a ‘smart’ burn wound dressing using patented PEG-based acrylate-endcapped urethane-based hydrogel precursors (AUPs), which are mainly processed through (co-axial) electrospinning.

Current project: Development of a smart diagnostic antimicrobial hydrogel-based wound dressing

Georgios Misiakos

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Biography: George received his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Athens and his master’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Groningen where he followed the track of Catalysis and Green chemistry. His thesis was a total synthesis project in the group of prof. dr. ir. A.J. (Adriaan J) Minnaard where he synthesized two mycobacterial glycolipids, DAT1a and DAT3, which are investigated for their immunological properties in the research for new treatments against tuberculosis. His internship was performed during a 6-month period in the company INNOSYN B.V where he worked on optimizing the synthesis of an anti-epileptic drug. Since April 2020 he joined the group of prof. Sandra Van Vlierberghe to contribute with his organic chemistry background to the fascinating polymer chemistry performed in the group.

Current project: Acrylate-endcapped urethane-based polymers for the development of iodine-based antibacterial wound dressings

Laurens Parmentier

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Biography: Laurens combines his material knowledge from his BSc in chemical engineering and materials science at Ghent University (2017) with the know-how obtained knowledge from his international MSc in biomedical engineering which was followed at Ghent University, Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Trinity College Dublin (2019). His second year at Trinity College Dublin was orientated towards acquiring research experience within bone tissue engineering. Currently, he is working at the Polymer Chemistry & Biomaterials Group on an FWO-funded project: Capturing the biophysical cues of bone to stimulate regeneration in critical-sized defects, where (bio)polymer synthesis and characterisation is combined with processing towards dual core-shell 3D-bioprinted patient-specific implants.

Current project: Capturing the biophysical cues of bone to stimulate regeneration in critical bone defects

Nele Pien

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Biography: Nele graduated in a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering in a joint Master program of Ghent University and Vrije Universiteit Brussel. In her master thesis, in the Polymer Chemistry and Biomaterials (PBM) group (Ghent University), she focused on the development of patient-specific 3D-printed scaffolds for meniscus tissue engineering (TE). Nele is currently a joint-PhD student in the PBM group (Prof. P. Dubruel and Prof. S. Van Vlierberghe) and in the Laboratory for Biomaterials and Bioengineering (LBB) (Prof. D. Mantovani) at the Laval University (Quebec, Canada). In 2019, she was granted a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. Her PhD research focuses on the development of tubular scaffolds for TE and regenerative medicine (TERM) applications including (1) the development of a physiologically-relevant model of the vascular wall and (2) the development of tubular scaffolds for deep flexor tendon repair.

Current project: Design, development and validation of a physiologically-relevant model of the vascular wall

Inez Roegiers

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Biography: Inez graduated as a Master of Biomedical Sciences (specialization: Environmental Health Sciences) in July of 2019 at Hasselt University. She did her master thesis on the application of electroactive bacteria for wastewater purification at the X-lab (Hasselt university) and the Center for Microbial Ecology and Technology (CMET, Ghent University). After this, her interest in the diverse application potential of microbial communities was spiked but she wanted to go back to her biomedical roots by applying to a project that had it all: the 3D intestine FWO project. This project aims to develop an in vitro model for the small intestinal ecosystem by combining a microbial community, human cell lines, hydrogels and 3D printing. She officially started as a PhD student on the 3D intestine project in May of 2019. 

Current project: 3D Biomimetic model of the host-microbiome small intestinal
ecosystem

Anna Szabó

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Biography: Anna has obtained a BSc and MSc degree in chemical engineering majoring in material science at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in 2019. She was awarded with a second place for her master thesis “Immobilization and bioimprinting of lipases in polyaspartamide nanofibers” on the Hungarian Junior Science Conference, in 2019. The same year she earned an Erasmus+ scholarship in the PBM group. In that period, her research focussed on the development of biocompatible urethane-based photo-crosslinkable polymer materials towards additive manufacturing applications. In her PhD, she’s involved with Fish-AI project under the egis of Horizon2020 FET-OPEN, which aims to develop an artificial in vitro fish intestine model towards sustainable fish farming.

Current project: FISH-AI

Quinten Thijssen

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Biography: Quinten obtained his bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2017 after which he started his master’s with as major ‘Molecular and macromolecular design’ and minor ‘Research and development’ at the University of Ghent (Belgium). During his master’s, he performed a joint master thesis in the research groups of Prof. Filip Du Prez (PCR group, UGent, Belgium) and Prof. Haritz Sardon (Innovative polymers group, POLYMAT, Spain) working on the combination of photochemistry and vitrimers. More specifically, the goal of his master thesis was to employ photoacid and photobase generators in order to control the kinetics of the transamination reaction in vinylogous urethane vitrimers. In 2019, Quinten graduated as master in chemistry (magna cum laude). After which, as a result of his interest in polymers for biomedical applications, he started his PhD under supervision of Prof. Sandra Van Vlierberghe in the PBM group (UGent, Belgium). Since 2020, Quinten is working as an FWO-SB fellow on the development of a biodegradable implant for maxillofacial reconstruction (promotor: Sandra Van Vlierberghe, co-promotor: maxillofacial surgeon Robin Willaert).

Current project: Development of a biodegradable bone graft for maxillofacial reconstruction

Lenny Van Daele

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Biography: Lenny Van Daele is a polymer chemist with a distinct interest in polymers for biomedical applications. He obtained both his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree at Ghent University, where he is currently working as a PhD candidate. During his master thesis, he worked on the development of a wound dressing for the treatment of chronic wounds. His PhD project is funded by the Research Foundation in Flanders (FWO) and focusses on the development of new polymers for cardiovascular applications, as well as surface modifications and processing using 3D-printing technology.

Current project: Shape memory polymers based on poly(alkylene terephthalate)s for an improved cardiovascular stent

Lana Van Damme

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Biography: Lana Van Damme, MD received her medical degree from the University of Ghent in 2018, where she will start her residency in the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in 2022. In 2018, she obtained an FWO-SB mandate for an interdisciplinary PhD project between the faculty of Sciences of Ghent University in the Polymer Chemistry & Biomaterials Research group (PBM) and the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Her PhD focusses on the development of 3D printed core/shell hydrogels towards patient-specific breast reconstruction.

Current project: Development of 3D printed core/shell hydrogels towards patient specific breast reconstruction

Florian Vanlauwe

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Biography: Florian Vanlauwe, MD received his medical degree from the University of Ghent in 2021. In that same year, he obtained an FWO-FR mandate for an interdisciplinary PhD project between the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the Polymer Chemistry & Biomaterials Research group (PBM) and the lab of gene therapy of the UGent. His PhD focusses on the 3D bioprinting of connected macro- and microvascular networks for the efficient transplantation of biofabricated adipose tissue.

Current project: Biofabrication of vasculature for organ engineering and bypass grafting

Evelien Vermoesen

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Biography: Evelien graduated in 2018 as master of science in chemistry at Ghent University. She did her thesis research in PBM group investigating slow release antibacterial wound dressings for burn wound applications. During the thesis she got the opportunity for a Baekeland doctorate application handling the development of a slow release biodegradable coating for organic fertilizers. For this project, she will work in collaboration with the ISOFYS research group and the fertilizer comapany Fertikal n.v..

Current project: Baekeland VLAIO project

Jan-Philip Zegwaart

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Biography: Jan-Philip obtained his MSc Biomedical Engineering at Twente University (NL) in 2013, with a thesis on “Modification of gold manoparticles with PEG and fluorophore labelled antibodies” (Nanobiophysics department). Later in 2013 Jan-Philip moved to Belgium. In 2015 he obtained a BA in Philosophy (KU Leuven) with a provocative thesis on human enhancement. After that, he became a researcher and lecturer at Artesis Plantijn Hogeschool (Antwerp).

In 2017, Jan-Philip started his doctoral studies at Ghent University (Polymer Chemistry and Biomaterials Group). His doctoral research concerns the development of a post-surgical wound care solution for chronic rhinosinusitis. In this project, Jan-Philip has been developing acrylate-endcapped urethane-based polymer (AUP) resins that can be used in stereolithographic (SLA) 3D-printing applications. This research is done in close collaboration with the Ghent University hospital (Department of Head and Skin and the Department of Otorhinolaryngology) and the Advanced Manufacturing Lab (Manufacturing Processes and Systems department, KU Leuven).

Current project: Acrylate-endcapped urethane-based polyethylene glycol polymers for post-surgical chronic rhinosinusitis treatment

Gebeyehu Abu Bedada

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Biography:

Gebeyehu obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Bahirdar Institute of Technology, Ethiopia in 2009. After that he won a scholarship granted by the Ethiopia Ministry of Education and Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, and received his Master’s degree from Addis Ababa University in 2011. Following his studies, he obtained a Lecturer and advisors position of Bachelor-, and Master’s degree students at Jimma Institute of Technology on different thematic areas including Food, Energy, Process and Mechanical Design of Unit Operation, antimicrobial synthesis, and polymers.

Currently he’s focusing on the project ‘Synthetic Hydrogel for tissue Engineering’ in the framework of the Network for Advancement of Sustainable Capacity in Education and Research in Ethiopia (NASCERE) scholarship in collaboration with Ghent University and Jimma University as a for a joint Ph.D student. The topic specifically focuses on the development of a 3D porous diatomaceous earth/Gel-MA composite scaffold for bone tissue engineering.

Current project: To be announced

Bo Van Durme

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Biography: Bo Van Durme achieved a bachelor's degree in Chemistry at the University of Ghent in 2017 after which she decided to enroll in a master's program in Organic and Polymer Chemistry within the same institution. During her master's degree, she performed her master thesis within the PBM group, focusing on 3D-printing of smart biomaterials towards minimally invasive breast reconstruction.

After her graduation in June 2022, she stayed in the PBM group and started working as a PhD on a project which focus on the development of a combinatory approach in which macro- and micro-structures are combined into one single construct in an attempt to mimic the physico-chemical and morphological complexity of tissues to the greatest extent possible.
 

Current project: Biofabrication of vasculature for organ engineering and bypass grafting

Astrid Quaak

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Biography: In 2020, Astrid obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at Ghent University, after which she started her Master’s in (Bio)Organic and Polymer Chemistry at Ghent University. She graduated as Master of Science in 2022. During her last Master Year, she did her Master Thesis at the PBM group and gained a significant insight and interest in the topic of biodegradable polymers for tissue engineering. Subsequently, she got the opportunity to start a PhD at the PBM group after graduation. Her PhD project is mainly focussed on the development of a photo-crosslinkable polyester platform, serving biomedical applications, through exploitation of the chemical design.

Current project: Exploiting chemical design to create a photo-crosslinkable polyester platform serving biomedical applications

Joeri Van Meerssche

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Biography: Joeri obtained his Bachelor, Honours Programme Education and Master degree (2022) at Ghent University, focussing on chemical synthesis. He conducted his master thesis both in the PBM and the Center for Molecular Modeling (CMM) for investigating the thermal stability of modified gelatins using a combined experimental-computational approach. The collaboration between PBM and CMM did not stop after his master thesis. He initiated his PhD on piezo-ionic and electrically conductive gelatin-based bioinks for use in skeletal muscle tissue engineering with prof. Sandra Van Vlierberghe (promotor, PBM), prof. Toon Verstraelen (co-promotor, CMM) and dr. Jelle Vekeman (co-promotor, CMM).

Current project: 3D-Bioprinting of Conductive and Piezo-Ionic Gelatin Hydrogels for Skeletal Muscle Tissue Engineering

Sven Vereecken

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Biography: Sven started in 2016 with his Bachelor in Chemistry and continued with a Master in (Bio)Organic and Polymer Chemistry in 2020. He has a background in both polymer and organic synthesis. He did his thesis in the PBM group working on hybrid polymers for ocular tissue engineering and during his internship at AstraZeneca in Sweden, he synthesized novel linkers that can be used in oligonucleotide conjugates. During his PhD, he will combine his interest for both polymer and organic chemistry by chemically modifying different polymers for gene delivery applications.

Current project: dsRNA delivery systems to boost RNAi efficacy

Other

Lise De Moor

Regulatory affairs manager in Gelgraft Medical®

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Biography: Lise obtained her MSc in Biomedical Sciences with a major in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine at Ghent University. She pursued a PhD in Health Sciences at the Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Group (Department of Human Structure and Repair, Ghent University) on the “Biofabrication of soft and vascularized tissues by bioprinting” (2021).

During her PhD research she focused on the development of cartilage tissue spheroids and vascularized tissue spheroids - to use as cellular building blocks for bioprinting applications - and their behavior in gelatin-based bioinks. Currently, she is working as a postdoctoral fellow on the Gelgraft Medical project on a VLAIO-IM spin-off mandate where she focusses on preclinical development/testing and regulatory, clinical and quality affairs.  

Current project: Gelgraft Medical®

Chris Vercruysse

Technician in Gelgraft Medical®

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Biography: Chris obtained his MSc in Industrial Engineering (Analytical Chemistry) at Ghent University in 1994. He started working at the UGent in 1995 at the Laboratory Of Analytical Chemistry (Dept. of Analytical Chemistry) where he also did his master thesis about the synthesis of sodium, carbonate and fluoride containing apatites.  Subsequently he worked at the Laboratory of Dental Biomaterials (Dept. of Dentistry), the Laboratory of Biomaterials (Dept. Basic Medical Sciences) where he focused on the development and chemical, physical and biomechanical analysis of inorganic biomaterials for (dental) restoration and bone  substitution, such as calcium phosphates, calcium silicates, glass ionomer cements and composites.  He ended up at the Tissue Engineering Lab (Dept. of Human Structure and Repair) where he was engaged in biomaterial/cell interactions, generation, analysis and bioprinting of prevascularized spheroids in a hydrogel matrix. His fascination for biomaterial chemistry led him back to the faculty of Sciences, where he now works at the Gelgraft Medical project and is involved in the synthesis and characterisation of modified gelatin hydrogels for regenerative purposes.  

Current project: Gelgraft Medical®