Professor Alicia El Haj 

Keele University

Professor Alicia El Haj is a leading figure in Regenerative Medicine and has been involved in bringing together interdisciplinary groups within biomedicine, physical sciences and engineering interested in aspects of cell and tissue engineering. She has been a founder Director of Keele University's Research Institute of Science & Technology in Medicine (ISTM) which has rated highly; 5A, 5* and 5A through the past 3 RAE assessments. 

Prof El Haj is the Research Director of an EPSRC DTC in Regenerative Medicine, one of the co-directors of the new EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing Centre in Regenerative Medicine and a collaborator in the new Arthritis Research UK Tissue Engineering Centre. She has published over a 100 publications with an emphasis on engineering solutions for controlling stem cell behaviour and new orthopaedic repair strategies using novel enabling technology approaches with funding from EPSRC, BBSRC, Welcome  Trust, AR UK and EU Framework.

Prof El Haj is a Chair elect of the European council for TERMIS, a member of the UK National Stem Cell Advisory Board, the IFMBE Working Group for Cellular Engineering, and the IPEM Academic Advisory board. She is on the editorial board of JTERM and Tissue Engineering and is currently serving as a member of the Medical Research Council’s Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS) Panel. Prof El Haj served on the General Engineering UK REF 2014 Panel. 

Prof. Sandra Hofmann

Eindhoven University of Technology (the Netherlands), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH)  

In 2013, Sandra Hofmann joined the Orthopaedic Biomechanics group of Prof. K. Ito at the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Eindhoven University of Technology as an assistant professor and got her tenure and promotion to UD1 in 2016.

She obtained her M.Sc. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Basel, Switzerland in 2002. After a scientific visit to Prof. D. Kaplan’s lab at Tufts University in Boston, she completed her Ph.D. (with distinction) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich in 2007 working on 'silk fibroin as a biomaterial for drug delivery and tissue engineering'. Subsequently, she moved to the group of Prof. R. Müller at the Institute for Biomechanics to focus her studies on imaging methods and bioreactor design. In 2010 she became group leader of the skeletal tissue engineering group and took over the function of a senior research associate. Current research topics are tissue engineering of skeletal tissues, in particular bone. A special focus lies on visualization and understanding of how cells react to environmental and influential parameters (chemical, mechanical, other cells) in tissue-engineered in vitro models of bone tissue.

She is and has been involved in various collaborative projects from the EU, the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Robert Mathys Foundation (Switzerland). In 2013, she has obtained a Marie Sklodowska Curie Career Integration Grant and an ERC Starting Grant and in 2014 a WISE grant from the TU/e. She is also a core member of the Institute for Complex Molecular Systems (ICMS) and still has a project-based appointment at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich.

Dr. Bart van Grinsven

Maastricht University, the Netherlands  

Bart van Grinsven studied Bioelectronics and Nanotechnology at Hasselt University in Belgium and returned to the BioSensor group in Hasselt for his PhD in 2008. After a postdoctoral fellowship within the same group, he moved to Maastricht University where he holds the position of Assistant Professor in the Smart Devices group. His work has a strong focus on biosensors and he currently holds 8 patents that are associated with thermal detection methods.

He has received several prestigious prizes for his work, including the Young Scientist Award from the Belgian Physical Society and the McKinsey award from Research Foundation Flanders (best thesis, 2013). In 2016, he received the Edmond Hustinx Award for Sciences, which served as pump priming for his research. In collaboration with Prof. Cleij, a large project was funded under the name ‘SURFSCAN’, which looks at evaluation of bacterial loads on samples. With his engineering approach, he and his team look at the development of (commercial) sensors for diagnostic purposes and all projects are in close collaboration with companies. Key words include: biomimetic sensors, antimicrobial resistance, bacterial load, surface imprinting.

Dr. Michael Whitcombe

University of Leicester

Michael Whitcombe is a lecturer in Supramolecular Chemistry at the University of Leicester. He is the president of the Society of Molecular Imprinting ( and is the webmaster of, a database that collects all papers in the field of molecular imprinting. More information about this prominent speaker in the field of supramolecular chemistry will follow soon.


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