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Personal profile

Research profile

Tom de Greef is Full Professor Synthetic Biology at the department of Biomedical Engineering. Work in the Synthetic Biology group (8 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 2009 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, in 2016 associate professor and in 2022 he was promoted to full professor Synthetic Biology. 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. He received an ERC Starting Grant in 2015, an NWO VIDI grant in 2016, an ERC Consolidator Grant in 2020 and an NWO VICI grant in 2023. Tom de Greef is a core member of the Institute for Complex Molecular Systems (ICMS) and a founding member of the Institute for Living Technologies. He is a founding member of the Eindhoven Young Academy of Engineering and a member of De Jonge Akademie since 2019. He received the 2017 Cram Lehn Pedersen prize in supramolecular chemistry, the 2022 Groundbreaking TU/e researcher award and in 2018 he was awarded a Microsoft PhD scholarship for the development of micromaterials for DNA datastorage.


Synthetic biology can help address key challenges facing the planet and its population. Research in synthetic biology may lead to new technologies such as programmed cells that self-assemble at the sites of disease to repair damage. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

External positions

Visiting Scholar, Harvard University

1 Apr 201310 Oct 2013


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