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Research profile

Nicholas Kurniawan is an Assistant Professor in the Soft Tissue Engineering and Mechanobiology group. His research focuses on understanding why and how cells behave the way they do in different physical environments. To answer this question, he creates biomimetic cellular environments at multiple scales—from 2D micropatterns to 3D extracellular matrices and bioreactors—where every physical and mechanical cues to the cells can be precisely controlled. These in vitro platforms enable him to systematically break down the origins of basic cellular behavior, such as orientation, migration, and differentiation. The overarching goal is to use the obtained insights to direct cell response in vivo, for example to promote tissue regeneration or to slow down disease progression. Nicholas’s research is highly interdisciplinary, encompassing biophysics, cell biology, protein polymers, biomechanics, and soft matter.

Academic background

Nicholas Kurniawan received his PhD in 2012 from the National University of Singapore (Singapore), studying the role of matrix viscoelasticity in cancer metastasis. He then carried out postdoctoral research as a Marie Curie Fellow at AMOLF (Amsterdam, the Netherlands), investigating the hierarchical structure-property relation in the cytoskeleton and extracellular matrices. In 2015, he joined Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, as an Assistant Professor in the research group Soft Tissue Engineering and Mechanobiology (department of Biomedical Engineering). He is also a member of the Institute for Complex Molecular Systems (ICMS).


The cell is a physical entity that interacts with its surrounding objects. By smartly designing the cellular environment, we essentially can have a remote control for steering cell behavior.

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Tissue Chemical Compounds
Blood Vessels Medicine & Life Sciences
fibrin Physics & Astronomy
Grafts Chemical Compounds
Tissue engineering Chemical Compounds
Tissue Engineering Medicine & Life Sciences
Cell Movement Medicine & Life Sciences
Biophysics Medicine & Life Sciences

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Research Output 2010 2020

  • 401 Citations
  • 34 Article
  • 4 Meeting Abstract
  • 3 Poster
  • 2 Review article
8 Downloads (Pure)
Open Access
Biocompatible Materials
Tissue engineering
3 Downloads (Pure)

Layer-specific cell differentiation in bi-layered vascular grafts under flow perfusion

Pennings, I., van Haaften, E. E., Juengst, T., Bulsink, J. A., Rosenberg, A. J. W. P., Groll, J., Bouten, C. V. C., Kurniawan, N. A., Smits, A. I. P. M. & Gawlitta, D., Jan 2020, In : Biofabrication. 12, 1, 13 p., 015009.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Blood Vessels
Cell Differentiation
1 Citation (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)

A stirring system using suspended magnetically-actuated pillars for controlled cell clustering

Saberi, A., Zhang, S., van den Bersselaar, C., Kandail, H., den Toonder, J. M. J. & Kurniawan, N. A., 14 Feb 2019, In : Soft Matter. 15, 6, p. 1435-1443 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
Magnetic scales
Research laboratories
1 Citation (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)

Cell-perceived substrate curvature dynamically coordinates the direction, speed, and persistence of stromal cell migration

Werner, M., Petersen, A., Kurniawan, N. & Bouten, C., 5 Sep 2019, In : Advanced Biosystems. 3, 10, 11 p., 1900080.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
Stromal Cells
Cell Movement
Mesenchymal Stromal Cells
Biocompatible Materials
3 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)

Entropic forces drive cellular contact guidance

Buskermolen, A. B. C., Suresh, H., Shishvan, S. S., Vigliotti, A., DeSimone, A., Kurniawan, N. A., Bouten, C. V. C. & Deshpande, V. S., 21 May 2019, In : Biophysical Journal. 116, 10, p. 1994-2008 15 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
Stress Fibers
Cell Size
Cell Nucleus Shape
Cell Nucleus Size


Control cell communication and tissue regeneration

Nicholas Kurniawan (Recipient), 2019

Prize: ERCStartingScientific

Cell Communication
Extracellular Matrix


Heart and blood

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Student theses

A brain chip to investigate neurite outgrowth by trapping cell-laden hydrogel beads in microsieves

Author: Labeur, T., 29 Aug 2019

Supervisor: Bouten, C. (Supervisor 1), Luttge, R. (Supervisor 2), Kurniawan, N. (Supervisor 2) & Bastiaens, A. (Supervisor 2)

Student thesis: Master

Cell directed nanoparticle drug delivery for tissue engineering

Author: Vogel, M., 30 Sep 2015

Supervisor: Bouten, C. (Supervisor 1), Sahlgren, C. (Supervisor 2), Ottmann, C. (Supervisor 2) & Kurniawan, N. (External coach)

Student thesis: Master

Design of a DNA-based tension probe for the quantification of cellular traction forces at a molecular level

Author: van der Putten, C., 25 Jan 2018

Supervisor: Kurniawan, N. (Supervisor 1), de Greef, T. (Supervisor 2) & Bouten, C. (Supervisor 2)

Student thesis: Master

Endothelium outgrowth under flow: a study of the outgrowth of endothelial monolayers under high shear rates

Author: Vlemmings, D., 28 Feb 2019

Supervisor: Kurniawan, N. (Supervisor 1) & van Haaften, E. (Supervisor 2)

Student thesis: Master

Evaluation of the potential of cell-laden chondroitin sulfate methacrylate hydrogels for cartilage regeneration

Author: Nijhuis, M., 25 Oct 2018

Supervisor: Ito, K. (Supervisor 1), van Donkelaar, C. (Supervisor 2), van Hooijdonk - Mouser, V. (Supervisor 2), Vermonden, T. (External person) (External coach) & Kurniawan, N. (Supervisor 2)

Student thesis: Master