Joyce Elisabeth Brouns research focuses on the synthesis and characterization of biomimetic hydrogels for neuronal cell growth

Recently, a new hydrogel was developed in our group based on polyisocyanopeptides functionalized with oligo (ethylene glycol) groups. These gels can be formed at extremely low polymer concentrations and display similar mechanical properties as gels prepared from biopolymers, such as collagen, fibrin and f-actin, as they strain-stiffen (become stiffer as the stress or strain in the material increases). Moreover, these gels can be post-modified with biological cues, such as growth factors and peptides, via click chemistry by the reaction of the azide-functional monomers in the polyisocyanopeptides with bicyclononyne modified molecules. This projects aims to synthesize biomimetic hydrogels based on the polyisocyanopeptides for the growth of neuronal cells. The hydrogels will be functionalized with peptides to stimulate the growth and development of brain organoids, which can be used to study for example brain development, model disease progression and drug discovery. 

​​Joyce Brouns completed her bachelor in biomedical engineering from Eindhoven University of Technology in 2015. In her master she focussed on the modification and characterization of supramolecular biomaterial surfaces for the development of antifouling materials at the Eindhoven University of Technology. Currently, she is finishing her master degree with an internship project at the Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, University of Queensland, where she will focuss on the synthesis and characterisation of polyisocyanopeptides and the growth and development of neuronal cells.