Research New Frontiers Symposium Looking back: New Frontiers Symposium 2014

Summary of the new frontiers symposium 2014

Most people probably remember the infamous image of a mouse with an ear on its back. Prompting quite some debate in the 1990's, the Vacanti mouse, demonstrated the latest possibilities of tissue engineering. In this case cartilage. More than 15 years on state-of-the art tissue engineering and regenerative medicine is starting to look less science-fiction and more thought provoking. From potentially solving the problem of organ donation to wound healing, the implications in personalised healthcare and healthy aging are far reaching. Can we really construct working artificial organs? What are the ethical boundaries and considerations? In a symposium with the world's top researchers, New Frontiers in Regenerative Medicine looked at the latest research findings. A glimpse into the future.

Regenerative medicine takes full advantage of molecular life science developments in stem cell and molecular biology, epigenetics, genomics and proteomics and biomaterials and bioengineering, while seizing new opportunities as they emerge from advances in molecular diagnostics, imaging guided therapies for the minimally invasive treatments and novel drugs. True to New Frontiers, a top line-up of speakers provided high-quality presentations on current achievements and challenges ahead.

001-bob Langer
In front of an audience of more than 350 scientists - nearly half from outside Nijmegen, Prof. Paul Smits, Dean / vice-chairman Radboud University Medical Center, opened the  symposium. The first speaker, Prof. Bob Langer, needed little introduction. By many regarded as the founding father of regenerative medicine with a CV that may sound a little like science fiction! With more than 1100 articles, 90,000 citations and 700 patents to his name, as well as being the only person to be elected to all four U.S. national academies, it was an incredible honour to host him in Nijmegen. Perhaps more a lesson in how to generate patents than hard-core science, the message was clear. Use your first publication draft as a basis for your patent application. Prof. Langer spoke about his many successes in launching new products from tumor-zapping nanoparticles to biosensors and blood tests, synthetic spinal cords, even anti-frizz hair products.

The first session, emerging biomaterials, focused essentially on nanotechnology. Samuel Stupp (Northwestern University, USA) discussed his latest research strategies that utilize supramolecular self-assembly to create bioactive and biomimetic nanostructures that emulate components of the extracellular matrix.  In particular, for controlling the differentiation of neural stem cells, targeting of therapies in the cardiovascular system, and the regeneration of connective tissues. Achim Goepferich (University of Regensburg, Germany) discussed the challenges of nanoparticle design and development for retinal therapy. Whilst Ali Khademhosseini (Massachusetts Institute of Technology,  USA) and Phillip B. Messersmith (Northwestern University, Illinois, USA) discussed the use of hydrogels for modifying cell behavior and ultimately for tissue regeneration/wound healing.

002-stupp    003-goepferich    004-khademhosseini    005-messersmith

The second session focused on tissue engineering. Clemens van Blitterswijk (Maastricht University, NL) started with high-throughput engineering. How doe cell form influence cell function and regenerative capacity (e.g. adherence, proliferation, differentiation and morphogenesis)? His lab has developed multiple technology platforms allowing researchers to expose cells and multicellular aggregates to different shapes and environmental conditions. In single assays, thousands of iterations can be run in parallel. James Kirkpatrick (Johannes Gutenberg University, DE) continued on human cells co-culture systems to target the vasculature, in particular to aid nanoparticle delivery to and transport across the air-blood and blood-brain barriers.
How to you go from a cell-based product to clinical production and application? Simply said, not straightforward. Frank Luyten (KU Leuven, BE) discussed his work in setting-up a regulatory framework in both Europe and the USA, whereby tissue engineered products can prove their safety and effectiveness. For these types of "Advanced Therapeutic Medicinal Products", to live up to the standards of drug development, challenges arise towards practical implementation but also to legislation and ethics. Jeffrey Hubbell (Institute for Bioengineering, Switzerland & University of Chicago, USA) rounded the session off with his latest finding on engineering growth factors to be immobilized to the extracellular matrix.

006-blitterswijk    007-kirkpatrick   008-luyten    009-hubbell

See the photos of the first day of this symposium here.

The first day closed with a great party at Landmark Wijnfort Lent with a live jazz band "De Compaenen". (Link)

Wijnfort1    Wijnfort2    Wijnfort3    Wijnfort4

The second day of the symposium focused initially on stem cells. Gernot Walko from Fiona Watt's lab (King's College London, UK) presented work on the role of interactions between epidermal cells and their environment in regulating stem cell behavior, in particular relating to healthy- and diseased skin. In a change to the advertised programme, the talk was given by Molly Stevens (Imperial College London, UK) discussed her work exploring and engineering the cell-material interface followed by Henk Stunnenberg (Radboud University, Nijmegen) who discussed his lab's efforts to decipher the epigenetic mechanisms linked to pluripotency.

010-walko 011-stevens 012-stunnenberg


Using smart chemistry, Teruo Okano (Tokyo Women's Medical University (TWMU), Tokyo, Japan) has developed a pioneering method to release cultured cells from surfaces as a single layer without the need for enzymes, thus leaving the cell layer with extracellular matrix (ECM) intact. This technique of cell-sheet engineering has already been successfully applied in the clinic to treat various medical conditions, including cornea epithelium deficient disease, esophageal epithelial cancer and cardio-myopathy. Work is ongoing to construct cell sheets consisting of more than one type of cell in order to create three dimensional biological constructs complete with the desired prevascular networks.





James J. Yoo (Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, USA) presented insights into new therapeutic opportunities for repairing tissue abnormalities. Researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine are using modified ink-jet technology to build a variety of tissue and organ prototypes. This technology allows multiple cell types and other tissue components to be arranged in pre-determined locations with high precision. In an early form of the technology, various cell types were placed in the wells of an actual ink cartridge and a printer was programmed to arrange the cells in a pre-determined order. The technology is now being adapted to a fully automated system in clean room environment with the envisaged capacity to build whole organs.

Stem cell technology has become one of the most interesting technologies in the way in which it poses challenges to the existing ethics of research in biomedicine. Some of these challenges have been very well known in the past, but others pose new and profound questions. For instance whether the therapeutic use of autologous stem cells should be viewed in the same perspective as drug related research in terms of safety and efficacy.  Evert van Leeuwen (Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen) presented his thoughts, as well as public perception of science: hype versus hope.

Bloemendal MedalThe symposium was drawn to a close with inspiring keynote lecture by Christine Mummery (Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden) on utilizing derivatives of human pluripotent stem cells to model and understand the onset of many human diseases. The Hans Bloemendal Medal for 2014 was awarded to Professor Christine Mummery, in recognition of her groundbreaking studies in stem cell engineering and development  [link].

Also this year we had a poster session during the 2 days of the Symposium. An excellent jury, has awarded three best poster prizes. They received a certificate and an amount of money.

The prize winners of 2014:

René Raavé

Mani Diba

Jitske Jansen



The symposium was a huge success and paves the way for the next 'Radboud Frontiers' symposium on cilia [link].

For a photo impression of the second day of New Frontiers 2014 click here.

Public evening

Grow your own custom-made kidney - Science fiction of science fact? read more

Public evening

On Wednesday 15th October, Astrid Joosten presented a  RIMLS public evening asking the question: how far are we from a custom-made personalised kidney? Currently, we can't repair kidney damage, but what about the future? In an event, organised together with the Dutch Kidney Foundation, scientists, clinicians and other stakeholders discussed  state-of-the-art research into developing a biological artificial kidney, ethical dilemma's, and their expectations for the future. The evening, attended by more than 200 members of the public, formed a fantastic opening event for the two-day New Frontiers symposium focussing on regenerative medicine.

Nier Op Maat -4
The Netherlands has about 1 million people with chronic kidney disease. In more than 60,000 cases, the kidneys don't work well or even at all. From the 6,500 patients who must purify their blood through dialysis, more than a thousand will die each year. One possible treatment is kidney transplantation. However, at the end of 2013, 735 people in the Netherlands were on the waiting list for a kidney. Almost a thousand people did receive a kidney transplant; more than half of the kidneys came from a living donor.

Kidney damage is currently irreversible and the risk of further kidney deterioration is large. Kidney failure is a reastic consequence. But suppose that recovery is possible? That would be a huge breakthrough. Regenerative medicine is the science which investigates how we can take advantage of the natural ability of the body to repair damaged tissues. Stem cells play a major role in this.

Nier Op Maat -5
Presenter Astrid Joosten hosted members of the public in an entire evening dedicated to the frontiers of the kidney research. Where are the limits and can those can be extended further? In addition to the scientific presentations, the public could view demonstrations in a virtual lab. The public evening concluded with an interactive panel discussion in which Hans Bart, Director of the Netherlands Kidney Patients Association, participated. Hans Bart is one of the aforementioned living kidney donors. 

Nier Op Maat -1


During the break there was a virtual kidney laboratory in the lobby of the Auditorium.

After the welcome speech from Tom Van Oostrom General Manager Kidney Foundation there was a presentation about biological artificial kidney research in Nijmegen by Dr. Roos Masereeuw Followed by a presenatation about kidney tailored for each patient by Prof. Dr. Ton Rabelink, LUMC.

Nier Op Maat -3

During the interactive panel discussion with Luuk Hilbrands (nephrologist), Roos Masereeuw (researcher), Evert van Leeuwen (ethics), Hans Bart (kidney patients Association), Ton Rabelink, (nephrologist) there was a lively discussion, led by Astrid Joosten.

Bloemendal Medal

The Hans Bloemendal Medal for 2014 is awarded to Professor Christine Mummery, in recognition of her groundbreaking studies spanning the disciplines of biophysics and molecular biology. read more

Bloemendal Medal

Christine Mummery studied Physics and has a PhD in Biophysics from the University of London. She received a postdoctoral fellowship from the Royal Society (UK) for research at the Hubrecht Institute where she became group leader and, in 2002, Professor of Developmental Biology. Her research focussed on development and differentiation of mouse and human embryonic stem cells (hES), in particular the role of growth factor signalling in directed differentiation. She has pioneered studies characterizing cardiomyocytes from hES cells and was among the first to inject them into mouse heart and assess their effect on myocardial infarction. Currently, her lab uses stem cell derived cardiomyocytes and vascular cells as disease models for drug discovery and cardiac repair. She serves on the Medical and Ethical Councils of the Netherlands Ministry of Health (CCMO), providing specialized advice on human embryos and stem cell clinical trials. She is an elected member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW, 2010), editor and editorial board member of journals that include Stem Cell Research, Cell Stem Cell, Stem Cells, elected board member of International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), and president of the International Society of Differentiation. In addition, she is on the boards of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), Dutch Bloemendal Medal
Medical Research Council (ZonMW) and Netherlands Heart Institute (ICIN). She has written a popular book on stem cells "Stem Cells: scientific facts and fiction" (2011) intended as a semi-lay guide to stem cell biology and applications. Christine Mummery is a passionate and devoted researcher with over 300 publications and 12,000 citations.

More photo's: link

About Hans Bloemendal

Hans Bloemendal has made significant contributions to the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology throughout his illustrious career and as a prominent scientist at the forefront of research on lens proteins He was the first to provide a new insight into the complex behaviour of lens proteins, demonstrating that crystallin heterogeneity was due to a combination of multimeric associations of different crystallin polypeptides. From 1965 to 1988, he was full professor of Biochemistry at the Radboud University Nijmegen, at both the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Medicine. His research group was the first to isolate translatable mRNAs coding for crystallin proteins, in a time when messenger RNA isolation was still in its infancy. Once again as a pioneer, he turned to the primary structure of crystallin polypeptides, cDNA and gene cloning. His cell biology studies not only included the spatial distribution of crystallins in the lens, lens cell culture, viral transformation of lens epithelial cells, lens aging and cataract, but also beautiful work on the cytoskeleton and plasma membrane in the lens. His love and devotion to molecular life sciences is illustrated by the fact that, at his age he is still active in the field: he is a distinguished example and role model for young students and scientists alike. Next to his scientific career, Hans Bloemendal was active in many other areas. The most important of these is of course his singing. Already for more than half a century he has been the first cantor at the most important synagogue in Amsterdam. His ritual Jewish songs have been recorded many times.

Next to his scientific career, Hans Bloemendal was active in many other areas. The most important of these is of course his singing. Already for more than half a century he has been the first cantor at the most important synagogue in Amsterdam. His ritual Jewish songs have been recorded many times.

The Hans Bloemendal lecture award has been bestowed on a number of very prominent scientists active in many different research fields. A full list of previous winners can be found via this link.

Keynote lectures

Keynote 1: Christine Mummery (Leiden University Medical Centre, NL) Keynote 2: Robert Langer (Massachusetts Institue of Technology, USA). read more

Keynote lectures


Christine Mummery (Leiden University Medical Centre, NL).

Christine _Mummery

Stem cells in cardiovascular development and disease.
Focuses on the biology and function of human embryonic and (patient derived) induced pluripotent stem cells. Methods for inducing their differentiation to cardiovascular cells are investigated using the underlying principles of developmental biology in combination with state of the art molecular biology.



Robert Langer (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA).


Novel drug delivery systems, tissue engineering, technology transfer.
He is one of 13 institute professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT's highest honor), has published more than 1100 articles, holds more than 800 issued and pend-ing patents and has 24 biotech companies to his name. He is the most cited engineer in history with more than 90,000 citations and is the only person to be elected to all four U.S. national academies.

Official sponsor of the lecture  by Robert Langer: BioMedical Materials program (BMM)


Date: 16 & 17 October 2014 read more


Download poster: link 
Download flyer: link
Download programme: link 



Christine Mummery (Leiden University Medical Centre, NL)
Stem cells in cardiovascular development and disease

Robert Langer
Novel drug delivery systems, tissue engineering, technology transfer

Clemens van Blitterswijk (Twente University, NL)
Smart biomaterials, cartilage and bone repair, 3D scaffolds, synthetic bone grafts

Achim Goepferich (University of Regensburg, DE)
Biomaterials, repair/replacement tissues, innovation drug delivery, biodegradable materials

Jeffrey Hubbell (EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland/University of Chicago, USA)
Biomaterial and growth factor engineering in regenerative medicine

Ali Khademhosseini (MIT, USA)
Bioengineering, cell-cell & cell-biomaterial interaction
See film: ACS Breakthrough Science

James Kirkpatrick (Johannes Gutenberg University, DE)
Endothelial cell pathobiology in inflammation and healing processes, biomaterial vascularization, bone tissue engineering, cartilage tissue engineering, respiratory tract regeneration, in vivo proof of principle studies

Evert van Leeuwen (Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, NL)
Ethics & stem cells

Frank Luyten (Skeletal Biology and Engineering Research Center, BE)
Formation of skeletal tissues and joint morphogenesis

Phillip B. Messersmith (Northwestern University, USA)
New biomaterials for the repair, replacement, or augmentation of human tissue

Teruo Okano (Tokyo Women's Medical University (TWMU), JP)
cell sheet engineering / clinical applications

Molly Stevens, (Imperial College London, UK)
Directed differentiation of stem cells, the design of novel bioactive scaffolds and new approaches towards tissue regeneration; peptide-functionalised nanoparticles

Henk Stunnenberg (Radboud University, RIMLS, NL)
Transcription factor binding sites, 3D structure, epigenetic marks, DNA-methylation and RNA transcriptomes

Samuel Stupp (Northwestern University, USA)
(Supra-molecular) self-assembly, biomaterials

Gernot Walko (Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, UK)
Self-renewal and lineage selection, tumour formation, regulation of cell fate decisions

James Yoo (Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, USA)
Biotechnology, degenerative disorders, engineering/bioengineering


The New Frontiers Symposium will be held at the Radboudumc Auditorium, Geert Grooteplein 15, 6525 GA Nijmegen, route 296. read more


Radboud Auditorium

Radboud Auditorium (exterior)

Radboudumc Auditorium­>

The New Frontiers Symposium will be held at the Radboudumc Auditorium, Geert Grooteplein 15, 6525 GA Nijmegen, route 296.

Radboud Auditorium _Bereikbaarheid _sml


The symposium dinner will be held in Landmark Wijnfort Lent, Bemmelse Dijk 4, 6663 KV  Lent. A coach is available to take you from the Radboud Auditorium to Landmark.