I started my Ph.D. studies in the group of Prof. Dr. Peter Friedl in the Department of Cell Biology at the Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (RIMLS) in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, where I completed my experimental PhD thesis on the impact of cell surface glycosylation on tumor cell migration and invasion in vitro and in vivo using multiphoton microscopy, confocal and scanning electron microscopy to visualize the complex nanotopography between the cell membranes and collagen fibers. In 2013, I received the prestigious Roche Postdoc Fellowship (RPF) from F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd, Basel, Switzerland, and developed in the group of Prof. Dr. Roland Brock in the Department of Biochemistry at the RIMLS a GFP complementation assay to study the transport of functional cell-penetrating peptides from the cell surface to the cytosol with focus on endosomal release. Furthermore, I studied the influence of cell surface glycosylation on the uptake of cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs). In February 2017 I received the KIC Postdoc Fellowship from the Kavli Institute for Nanoscale Science at Cornell University, USA.
As a Kavli Fellow I investigate how specific biophysical and biochemical properties of the surface glycan layer (glycocalyx) enable cells to interact with nanometer-scale structures in biological tissues and biomimetic culture systems.
In this project I developed a GFP complementation assay to study the transport of functional cell-penetrating peptides from the cell surface to the cytosol with the focus on endosomal release.
I also studied the influence of cell surface glycosylation on the uptake of cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs). Next to advanced biochemical approaches, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, and fluorescence recovery after photobleaching, I also used confocal microscopy, to analyze and visualize contact regions of especially cationic CPPs to negatively charged cell surface glycan moieties.
Furthermore, I studied the impact of CPP binding on the lateral mobility of cell surface glycolipids and glycoproteins using atomic force microscopy and spectroscopy (AFM/AFS) and FRAP technique, which I have optimized for glycan analysis during the last years.
I am involved in the development of R codes, a marketplace, I have co-founded, for sharing R tutorials, novel approaches and algorithms to the coding community around the world. Furthermore I am involved in the development of Frapbot, a free-of-charge open source software web application written in R, which provides manual and automated analyses of fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) datasets. Both projects are part of the Vaionex Corporation, a young datascience & biotech startup I have co-founded in 2016.
During my PhD project I was able to learn advanced imaging procedures, e.g. confocal microscopy, to visualize cell-matrix interactions and dynamic cell patterning, e.g. during tumor migration and invasion. My responsibilities included the development of a cell culture technique to analyse the influence of glycocalyx components in mediating cell migration and invasion in a 3D environment in vitro and in vivo. Thus, I have a strong background in cell and molecular biology, microscopy, including time-lapse microscopy, confocal microscopy, atomic force microscopy and spectroscopy (AFM/AFS), glycobiology and experience in glycochemistry.