Over the course of 2022 and 2023, eight PhD projects were awarded under the HTRIC flag. The PhD candidates introduce themselves here.

Our HTRIC PhD candidates

PhD projects supported by HTRIC funding

We are growing! Starting in 2022 and 2023, eight PhD projects are currently supported with funding from HTRIC. The projects are powered by principal investigators from the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) of the University of Groningen, and the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG). Interested in these projects? Find out more information in the blogs of our candidates. 

Lower-limb prostheses: optimal human-in-the-loop co-adaptation

PhD Candidate Chengxiang (Oran) Liu:

After finishing my Master’s degree in Mechatronic engineering, I worked in institutes developing medical robotics for more than two years. I started my HTRIC PhD project in March 2023. This project aims at developing a human-in-the-loop approach in which the user and the (control settings and mechanical parameters of the) prosthesis co-adapt to each other in an optimization process. The research I do for this project can contribute to  the life quality improvement of amputee patients.

Interested in more of Oran’s research? Check out his blog here.

This project is applied for by Prof. Dr. Raffaella Carloni (FSE) and Prof. Dr. Han Houdijk (UMCG).

Project start: March 2023

Early detection of sepsis using reactive oxygen species

PhD Candidate Britt Coenen:

After finishing my bachelor degree in Life Science I started my master degree in Medical Biology to learn more about key mechanisms in biology and disease. During my PhD on the early detection of sepsis I will apply the knowledge I gained to limit effects from preventable causes, aiming to improve diagnosis and healthcare for patients.

Interested in more of Britt her research? Check out her blog here

This project is applied for by Prof. Dr. Romana Schirhagl (UMCG), Prof. Dr. Geert van den Boogaart (FSE) and Dr. Hjalmar Bouma (UMCG).

Project start: September 2022

Take a breath: Development of a novel lung adhesive sealant for severe COPD patients

PhD candidate Ayla Kwant:

After finishing my master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences, I started my HTRIC PhD project in September 2022. The main focus of my research is developing and testing a ‘glue’, which is intended to seal the damaged parts of the lungs of COPD patients and thus improve the capacity of the functional parts. With this research, I hope to contribute to an improved quality of life for COPD patients.

Interested in more of Ayla her research? Check out her blog here

This project is applied for by Prof. Dr. Marleen Kamperman (FSE) and Dr. Simon D. Pouwels (UMCG), together with Prof. Dr. Dirk-Jan Slebos and Prof. Dr. Janette Burgess.

Project start: September 2022

4D Local drug distribution determination using advanced optical (light sheet) microscopy

PhD candidate Nawal Aledlbi:

After doing my bachelor’s in applied chemistry, I went for a master’s degree in analytical chemistry. To broaden my horizon, I joined the Nanoscience TopMaster program at the University of Groningen. During my PhD, I look forward to developing a 4D optical analysis to get an insight into targeted drug distribution, that can lead to efficient personalized medicine in IBD patients using light-sheet microscopy. 

Interested in more of Nawal her research? Check out her blog here.

This project is applied for by Dr. Pieter van der Zaag (FSE) and Prof. Dr. Wouter Nagengast (UMCG).

Project start: September 2022

Oxygen-releasing adhesives to promote anastomotic healing in esophageal surgery

PhD candidate Mariana Leal Estrada: 

After finishing my bachelor’s in Nanotechnology, I did my master’s in Innovative Medicine. I will start my HTRIC PhD project in September 2023. Our goal is to develop an oxygen-releasing ‘glue’ to prevent postoperative anastomotic leakage and promote wound healing in esophageal cancer patients. This will improve patients’ healthcare and recovery after tumour resection. 

 This project is applied for by Prof. Dr. Inge S. Zuhorn (UMCG) and Prof. Dr. Ranjita K. Bose (FSE), together with Dr. Jan Willem Haveman (UMCG). 

 Project start: September 2023 

Nanopore Technology in Acute Heart Failure Management

PhD candidate Amogh Desai:

During my academic journey, I was involved in various research projects encompassing mathematical modelling, molecular simulations, and protein biochemistry. My interdisciplinary skillset has nurtured my enthusiasm for scientific innovation. In my HTRIC PhD project, my focus is on developing nanopore sensors for detecting sodium levels in heart failure patients. By merging my interdisciplinary background with cutting-edge technology, I aim to create a meaningful impact in healthcare and biotechnology.

This project is applied for by Prof. Dr. Giovanni Maglia (FSE) and Dr. Kevin Damman (UMCG).

Project start: September 2023

Development of 18F-labelled FAPI (fibroblast activating protein inhibitor) for Positron Emission Tomography of cancer and inflammation

PhD candidate Meryl Maria Vilangattil: 

After finishing my master’s degree in Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, I worked as a Research Associate (Radiochemist) at University of California, Los Angeles. I will be starting my HTRIC PhD project in November 2023. The primary objective of my research is the development of a novel radiopharmaceutical for imaging of Fibroblast Activation Protein (FAP) which is overexpressed in various cancers. Research in this field is making continuous strides against cancer and I hope to contribute to it by incorporating novel technologies towards improvement in diagnosis of the disease which will help improve prognosis and standard of living in cancer patients.

This project is applied for by Prof. Dr. Philip H. Elsinga (UMCG) and Prof. Dr. Ben L. Feringa (FSE).
Project start: November 2023

Unpuzzling cardiac damage by exercise imaging and biomechanical modeling

PhD candidate Gipsy Urrutia Aguilera:

When I was a master student in Mechanical Engineering, I worked as a researcher in a biomaterials and biomechanics laboratory at the University of Santiago de Chile (USACH). In December 2023, I will start my PhD project at HTRIC. The main goal consists of the development of an imaging-modeling-based technology to measure local changes in ventricular tissue properties during exercise. This type of research is expected to support the clinical decision to perform AVR (aortic valve replacement) before irreversible cardiac damage occurs.

This project is applied for by Prof. Dr. Cristobal Bertoglio (FSE) and Dr. Tineke Willems (UMCG).

Project start: December 2023