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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
fibrin Physics & Astronomy
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Mechanics Chemical Compounds
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fibers Physics & Astronomy
stiffening Physics & Astronomy
Collagen Engineering & Materials Science

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2010 2019

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., 1 Jan 2019, In : Soft Matter. 15, 6, p. 1435-1443 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
Magnetic scales
Research laboratories

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
Biocompatible Materials
2 Citations (Scopus)

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
Open Access
Biocompatible Materials
Tissue engineering

Image-based analysis of uniaxial ring test for mechanical characterization of soft materials and biological tissues

van Haaften, E. E., van Turnhout, M. C. & Kurniawan, N. A., 25 Mar 2019, In : Soft Matter. 15, 16, p. 3353-3361 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
Systematic errors
Biological materials


Control cell communication and tissue regeneration

Nicholas Kurniawan (Recipient), 2019

Recognition: 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