Martijn Kern

PhD Student

3D stem cell-based models of the Wolffian duct to study epithelial-mesenchymal interactions during early kidney development

Martijn completed his BSc and MSc in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Twente. While initially determined to go into the field of prosthesis development, during his bachelor he discovered his affinity for biology, chemistry and tissue regeneration. He worked on improving spheroid imaging using a tissue clearing technique and performed more fundamental research into macromolecular crowding in 3D stem cell culture.
In August 2019, he started his PhD at the IBE division of MERLN as part of the Materials-Driven Regeneration team. He will work on developing a microfluidic platform to recap the branching morphogenesis of early kidney development, using stem cell-derived kidney progenitors. Our aim is to study the essential epithelial-mesenchymal interaction, allowing us to investigate several aspects of morphogenesis, such as initial bud outgrowth and ureteric tree branching. We hypothesize that our strategy will eventually pave the way to generate organoids with a higher-order architecture compared to current organoids, providing opportunities as relevant models for drug testing and even functional units for tissue engineering.