Human bones consist of a matrix of the soft material collagen in which the hard material calcium phosphate grows, which provides the firmness. This bone-forming process is particularly complex because it takes place on different length scales. Moreover, it is difficult to study in the living body. Knowledge about collagen mineralization, about exactly how bone forms, is therefore still limited.
Nico Sommerdijk wants to be the first to generate a total picture of the mechanisms of collagen mineralization. He will conduct his research using living material that originates from tissue culture with human cells - in collaboration with the group of Sandra Hofmann and Keita Ito (BMT). Using a broad set of ultramodern and groundbreaking visualization and analysis techniques, he will be able to study in a Google Earth kind of way the processes on different length scales and to generate insight into the orchestrating role that proteins play.
To this end, he will bring together various analysis techniques (CryoFIB / SEM-EBSD-SIMS) in a new instrument, with which he can combine visualization and chemical analysis in 3D for the first time. He will also combine visualization techniques that make it possible for the first time to look at the nanoscale processes live and in 3D. Sommerdijk will receive a grant from the ERC totaling € 3.5 million.