Anual sIMMposium

During this year’s annual sIMMposium organised by Institute of Molecules and Materials (IMM) at Radboud University Dr. Will Robinson presented his recent study on a prebiotic reaction network and origins of life.

If you still haven’t read the paper, you can find it here.

New paper on photobiocatalysis in flow conditions

New article on photobiocatalysis in flow was published in ACS Biocatalysis in a collaboration with the group of Wolfgang Kroutil from Graz University!

In this paper immobilised photodecarboxylase from C. variabilis (CvFAP) is taken as an example to demonstrate the methodology development of photobiocatalysis in flow conditions. Various enzyme immobilisation techniques were used to determine the best carrier and conversion.

Congratulations to Stefan, Christoph and Wolfgang from Graz University as well as Miglė and Wilhelm!

You can read the paper here.

National Growth Fund application has been awarded 96.9 M Euros

Fantastic news! The National Growth Fund application for ‘RobotLab’ has now been awarded 96.9 million Euros unconditionally! Chemistry an AI will be combined together to build a fully robotic lab.

Big congratulations to Wilhelm and collaborators!

Learn more about this (in Dutch) here.

Emma Keizer – new postdoc

Emma is a computational systems biologist who enjoys working in multi-disciplinary research teams. During her Ph.D. research, she studied noisy gene expression networks to investigate the implications of cell-to-cell variability on cellular fitness through a combination of experimental (single-cell) analysis and mathematical modelling. Her work in the Huck group is focused on designing mathematical models to investigate how signalling networks respond to external stimuli, and the analysis of multi-omics single-cell data. Outside of work, Emma is a keen cyclist and loves to learn new skills.

Welcome Emma to the group!


The Huck group was well represented this year at CHAINS – the main chemistry conference for chemists in the Netherlands. One of our postdocs, Oliver Maguire, presented his recent work on a prebiotic phosphorylation system for creating phosphorylated molecules critical to the Origins of Life. Many members of the group also presented their work in the poster sessions.


More details on Oliver’s work on prebiotic phosphorylations can be found in a recent paper here:

New paper on cell-free expression system based on Mycoplasma bacteria

In collaboration with researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute, University of Minnesota, and Santa Fe Institute, we published a paper describing 2 years of attempts to derive a cell-free expression (CFE) system based on Mycoplasma bacterium. What seemed to be a simple and straightforward project, turned out to be challenging due to unique features of Mycoplasma biology. As a parasite of mammals, mycoplasmas evolved to scavenge its surrounding environment for nutrients. Therefore, surface nucleases are essential for survival. For producing lysates, such nucleases degraded important nucleic acids (e.g. ribosomal RNA), which prevented in vitro transcription-translation reactions.  A series of new methods were designed for testing the quality of lysates and for producing lysates with lower nuclease activity.”

You can find the new article here.

Congratulations Andrei, Wilhelm and all collaborators!

Publication: New methodology for characterization of cell-free genetic networks enables forward engineering

Forward engineering of (cell-free) genetic networks is one of the main goals in the field of synthetic biology. However, despite the vast library of available building blocks for the assembly of these networks, identifying the reaction kinetics to make these building blocks modular for forward engineering remains elusive. In our latest work we established an automated pipeline to produce high-quality time-resolved data through a combination of optimal experimental design, microfluidics and non-linear model identification. We apply this pipeline and progress through a design, characterize test cycle and demonstrate the modularity and predictability of the characterized building blocks in new network configurations. The methodology described in this paper has the potential to enable forward engineering of cell-free genetic networks.

You can find the article here:

Congratulations Bob, Roel, Wilhelm and collaborators!

CLASSY consortium meeting in Madrid

CLASSY consortium finally had a chance to meet again in person on June 16-17 in Madrid. This time the meeting was hosted by the group of Andrés de la Escosura from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Miglė Jakštaitė and Wilhelm Huck were presenting and discussing the progress in enzymatic cascade reactions and process optimisation together with partners from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Universität Graz, ETH Zürich, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and Micronit B.V.

More information can be found here.

Podcast series about building a synthetic cell

Over the past months, many PhDs, postdocs, and PIs from Building a Synthetic Cell (BaSyC) consortium  have contributed to a podcast series about our efforts to build a synthetic cell. The Rathenau Instituut, in collaboration with designer Mies Loogman, created this 4-episode podcast series that is called ‘Herschept’ (In Dutch), and the final episode is out now! Ludo Schoenmakers is one of the PhDs from our group that contributed to this podcast series.

More information can be found here.

You can listen to all 4 episodes on Spotify.

Publication: Chemical reaction self-organization offers new insights into the Origin of Life

Four billion years ago, Life emerged from the prebiotic environment. We know many building blocks required for Life may have been present at this point. However, Life is more than the sum of its components. These collections of chemical building blocks had to work together to create Life using only information from their environment and their reactivity. Understanding this phenomenon, ‘self-organization’,is a key piece of the puzzle in understanding the Origin of Life. Our latest work published in Nature Chemistry offers a first glimpse of how patterns in chemical reactivity and the environment can come together to organise systems of chemical reactions.

You can read our work here:
(public view-only version:

Congratulations Will, Lena, Peer, Thijs and Wilhelm!