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Volume 3, 2014

Nano interface

Séverine Le Gac is programme director of the multidisciplinary Nanotechnology for Innovative Medicine research programme. In addition, she leads her own research group, Microfluidics for Nanomedicine. What is a Frenchwoman doing in Enschede? And how does she bring together researchers from different disciplines?

In 2005, Séverine Le Gac came to Twente for both MESA+ and for the BIOS group of Albert van den Berg. Le Gac: “Both the group and MESA+ have a fantastic reputation. Of course, I do miss Paris. I’m a “culture animal” and Enschede is obviously not at all like Paris. But on other aspects, I also like nature very much and that can be found here in abundance. A walk through the woods is good to refresh my mind.”


Séverine Le Gac is programme director of the multidisciplinary Nanotechnology for Innovative Medicine research programme. About 35 researchers from different disciplines work together in that research progamme. It is one of the four Strategic Research Orientations (SROs) of MESA+ (see the box as well). Le Gac’s SRO brings together biologists, chemists, biophysicists, applied physicists and medical technologists. The SRO not only unites people from MESA+, but also includes researchers from MIRA, the University of Twente’s research centre for biomedical technology and technical medicine. The overarching research programme aims to develop new methods, techniques and instruments for diagnoses and treatments. It also aims to provide insight into the molecular processes with respect to diseases. Le Gac: “It is exciting to work at the interface of several research fields. The researchers have various backgrounds. This interdisciplinary environment is really something I like. We get together every month. I show the MESA+ researchers that there is more than just nanotechnology, and MIRA researchers see that there is more than just pharmaceuticals.”

Embryo on a chip

Besides the programme directorship, Le Gac has her own research group. With two PhDs and two postgraduate researchers, she is developing microfluidics for nanomedicine. She is working to gether with, for example, the Max-Planck-Institut für molekuläre Biomedizin in Münster and the Centrum für Reproduktionsmedizin und Andrology in the same German city as well as the Amsterdam VU University Medical Center, on the development of lab-on-a-chip systems for growing embryos and monitoring their viability using dedicated sensors. The goal is to propose new systems that can be used in the future for IVF treatments. For now, embryos are cultured in a petri dish during the pre-implantation period, but lab-on-a-chip systems can better mimic the environment in which embryos would grow in vivo.

Unique research

Le Gac came to Twente because of its good reputation. She stayed in Twente because it offers her a unique research environment. “Researchers collaborate here and also look beyond their own discipline. That is ideal for me because my research and interests also lie at the interface between several disciplines.”

NAME: Séverine Le Gac (1977)
POSITION: Programme director Nanotechnology for Innovative Medicine and senior lecturer with the BIOS Lab-on-a-chip group
PREVIOUSLY: Le Gac graduated in chemistry at the ESPCI in Paris. She obtained her doctoral degree cum laude at the Université des Sciences et Technologies de Lille. Her doctoral thesis on the development of a microfluidic system for protein analysis was awarded a prize from the French Association for Mass Spectrometry. She has been working in Twente since 2005, first as a post doctoral fellow, then as a lecturer and now as a senior lecturer
MESA+... ‘has a really fantastic reputation’

Strategic Research Orientations

To encourage cooperation by the various disciplines, MESA+ has four Strategic Research Orientations (SROs). This involves around 35 researchers from related disciplines working together on a single theme. This way of working leads to groundbreaking interdisciplinary research, while strengthening the cohesion between ongoing research and enabling completely new fields of research to be developed. The four Strategic Research Orientations of MESA+:

1. Applied NanoPhotonics

2. NanoMaterials for Energy

3. Enabling Technologies

4. Nanotechnology for Innovative Medicine