I have a broad interest in the application of physical methods to understand biological phenomena at the scale of single molecules and molecular assemblies. Over the recent years, my research has increasingly focussed on molecular-scale mechanisms that are relevant for how pathogens (e.g. bugs, viruses) interact with their hosts (e.g., the human body).
While my lab uses a range of methods, mostly experimental but also theoretical and computational, our key expertise is in atomic force microscopy (AFM). Using an extremely sharp tip, AFM allows us to scan a surface just like a blind person's fingertip reading Braille, “touching” and “feeling” single molecules and/or atoms. Moreover, since the AFM can be operated in liquid, we can probe and image biomolecules under conditions that are very near to those in a living cell. It therefore enables us to visualise biomolecules at work.
Research topics in my lab include bacterial toxins and immune effectuators that operate by punching holes into target membranes; antimicrobial peptides that can degrade bacterial membranes via a range of different mechanisms; transport (e.g., of viruses) into and out of the cell nucleus via the nuclear pore complex; DNA (super)structure and how it affects gene regulation; and single-molecule interactions of relevance for the function of pharmaceutical drugs.
A common element in all our research projects is that we combine our expertise in biophysics and nanotechnology with complementary and often very inspiring input from collaborators in other disciplines (mostly life sciences).
A list of our publications can be found here.