• 5608 Citations

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Personal profile

Research profile

Tom de Greef is Associate Professor of Synthetic Biology in the department of Biomedical Engineering. Work in the Synthetic Biology group (7 PhD students, 2 post-docs) is directed at the bottom-up construction of basic cellular functions from well-characterized biological components, and the development of novel biological computing devices that can enhance signal-processing capabilities of natural and synthetic cells. This involves the design and construction of integrated genetic, protein or DNA-based circuits, either in a cell-free environment or in living cells, capable of autonomously performing useful functions. To achieve this goal, a multidisciplinary approach is employed that combines elements from DNA/RNA nanotechnology, genetic engineering, microengineering and the modelling and simulation of biomolecular networks. Ultimately, advances in synthetic biology will allow the development of functional living and hybrid technologies such as biological robots, synthetic cells or augmented natural cells, that can be interfaced with the human body to detect disease biomarkers and allow autonomous, closed-loop therapeutic functions. 

Academic background

Tom de Greef studied Biomedical Engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e, the Netherlands), where he received his MSc degree cum laude in 2004. He then started his PhD research at the TU/e department of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry, where he graduated in 2008 on a thesis on novel polymeric materials based on quadruple hydrogen-bonding motifs, supervised by professors E. W. (Bert) Meijer and Rint Sijbesma. He subsequently moved to the Computational Biology group at the TU/e department of Biomedical Engineering (TU/e) headed by Prof. Peter Hilbers, for postdoctoral research on self-assembling systems from a computational perspective. In 2010, he became assistant professor and in 2016 he was promoted to associate professor. In 2013, Tom de Greef was a visiting scholar in the group of Prof. David Weitz at Harvard University (Cambridge, USA), working on protein affinity screening using droplet microfluidics.

In 2012 and 2013 the Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research (NWO) awarded him a VENI grant and an ECHO-STIP grant, respectively. In 2015 he received an ERC starting Grant and in 2016 an NWO VIDI grant. Tom de Greef is a core member of the Institute for Complex Molecular Systems (ICMS), a core member of the Dutch Gravitation program "Functional Molecular Systems" and a junior faculty member of the Gravitation program "Materials-Driven Regeneration". He received the 2017 Cram Lehn Pedersen prize in supramolecular chemistry, and in 2018 he was awarded a Microsoft PhD scholarship for the development of a DNA computer.


"When we learn to control the flow of biological information and use it to our advantage, we will reach the pinnacle of the Information Age."

External positions

Visiting Scholar, Harvard University

1 Apr 201310 Oct 2013

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Research Output

Designed asymmetric protein assembly on a symmetric scaffold

Lemmens, L. J. M., Roodhuizen, J. A. L., de Greef, T. F. A., Markvoort, A. J. & Brunsveld, L., 18 May 2020, In : Angewandte Chemie - International Edition. 59, 29, p. 12113-12121 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
  • Dynamic modulation of proximity-induced enzyme activity using supramolecular polymers

    Magdalena Estirado, E., Rosier, B. J. H. M., de Greef, T. F. A. & Brunsveld, L., 28 May 2020, In : Chemical Communications. 56, 43, p. 5747-5750 4 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    Open Access
  • Engineered living materials based on adhesin-mediated trapping of programmable cells

    Guo, S., Dubuc, E., Rave, Y., Verhagen, M., Twisk, S. A. E., van der Hek, T., Oerlemans, G. J. M., van den Oetelaar, M. C. M., van Hazendonk, L. S., Brüls, M., Eijkens, B. V., Joostens, P. L., Keij, S. R., Xing, W., Nijs, M., Stalpers, J., Sharma, M., Gerth, M., Boonen, R. J. E. A., Verduin, K. & 3 others, Merkx, M., Voets, I. K. & De Greef, T. F. A., 20 Mar 2020, In : ACS Synthetic Biology. 9, 3, p. 475-485 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    Open Access
  • 9 Downloads (Pure)

    Proximity-induced caspase-9 activation on a DNA origami-based synthetic apoptosome

    Rosier, B., Markvoort, A. J., Gumi Audenis, B., Roodhuizen, J., den Hamer, A., Brunsveld, L. & de Greef, T. F. A., 1 Mar 2020, In : Nature Catalysis. 3, 3, p. 295-306 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  • 3 Citations (Scopus)
    6 Downloads (Pure)

    A multilayer microfluidic platform for the conduction of prolonged cell-free gene expression

    van der Linden, A., Pieters, P., Yelleswarapu, M., Swank, Z., Huck, W. T. S., Maerkl, S. & de Greef, T., 6 Oct 2019, In : Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE). 152, 14 p., e59655.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    Open Access
  • 1 Citation (Scopus)
    105 Downloads (Pure)


    COST Action CM0703

    T.F.A. de Greef (Recipient), 2011

    Prize: OtherDiscipline relatedProfessional

    Cram Lehn Pedersen Prize

    T.F.A. de Greef (Recipient), 2017

    Prize: OtherDiscipline relatedScientific

  • Microsoft PhD Scholarship

    T.F.A. de Greef (Recipient), 2018

    Prize: OtherScholarshipsScientific

  • Courses

    iGEM project

    1/09/14 → …


    Introduction Organic Chemistry

    1/09/12 → …


    Project Computational biology



    Press / Media


    Tom F.A. de Greef & Liesbeth M.C. Janssen


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Expert Comment

    Young Academy welcomes Liesbeth Janssen

    Carlijn V.C. Bouten & Tom F.A. de Greef


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Expert Comment

    Molecular data-storage system encodes information with peptides

    Tom F.A. de Greef


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Expert Comment

    Protocells use DNA logic to communicate and compute

    Tom F.A. de Greef


    9 items of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Expert Comment

    Protocells Utilize DNA Logic to Communicate and Compute

    Tom F.A. de Greef


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Expert Comment

    Student theses

    A microfluidic toolbox for supramolecular chemistry and chemical biology

    Author: Rosier, B., 31 Oct 2014

    Supervisor: de Greef, T. (Supervisor 1) & Meijer, E. (Supervisor 2)

    Student thesis: Master

    Cationic stabilization of DNA origami investigated through atomistic simulations

    Author: Hendrikx, P., 29 Nov 2018

    Supervisor: Roodhuizen, J. (Supervisor 1), Markvoort, B. (Supervisor 2), de Greef, T. (Supervisor 2) & Hilbers, P. (Supervisor 2)

    Student thesis: Master

    Coupling of an enzymatic actuator to an oscillating PEN-based DNA network

    Author: Nijenhuis, M., 25 Jan 2018

    Supervisor: Meijer, L. (Supervisor 1), de Greef, T. (Supervisor 2) & Hilbers, P. (Supervisor 2)

    Student thesis: Master

    Creating a non-linear response in dCas9-based gene repression: tuning the sgRNA concentration with the use of enzymatic coupled degradation

    Author: Uittenbogaard, P., 20 May 2019

    Supervisor: Hilbers, P. (Supervisor 1), de Greef, T. (Supervisor 2), Ottmann, C. (Supervisor 2) & Dubuc, E. (Supervisor 2)

    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