“This exchange program encouraged me to start thinking about standardization…”, says Andries Peeters

Andries Peeters is doing his PhD thesis at the Center for Synthetic Biology of the University of Ghent and, in the first round of the BioRoboost exchange programme, he visited SYNMIKRO Marburg, an institute focused on gaining insight into the principles of microbial life and providing the necessary tools to tap the potential of microorganisms in modern biotechnology. Specifically, in Prof. Dr. Anke Becker’s lab they study the genetics, physiology and cell biology of microbe-host interactions. Here is what the BioRoboost experience was like for him:

“During the BioRoboost exchange program I have been able to combine my interests with scientific debate and leisure. My fascination with lab automation platforms and the fact that such a platform is coming to my lab led me to choose for a stay at Synmikro led by Prof. dr. Anke Becker at the Philipps University of Marburg. I was given the opportunity to get acquainted with the flexible use of lab automation systems for standardized synthetic biology approaches. It was an enriching experience which allowed me to go beyond my comfort zone of my own lab, meeting skilled scientists and expanding my network. For such a relatively short stay, I got very well included in the group and, learned a lot about their research and way of thinking about synthetic biology and standardization. It was astonishing to recognize all the differences and similarities in practices, material, etc. within two groups that do similar research.

I stayed in a cozy guesthouse that was suggested to me by the host institution, which was close to the historic city centre and its bars and restaurants. During evenings and weekends I had plenty of time to visit the charming city of Marburg. I really enjoyed the local cuisine and as a Belgian of course also the German beer. In the weekend my girlfriend visited and we set out to explore the city and the nature surrounding it. The Edersee, Schloss Waldeck and the Landgrafenschloss were definitely worth it!

This exchange program encouraged me to start thinking about standardization and what it meant or could mean for my own research and the whole synthetic biology community. One of the things that I noticed is that standardized practices are key when operating a lab automation platform. And, although there may still be some differences in practices between CSB (centre for synthetic biology, UGent) and Synmikro, most fundamental ideas are very much in line with each other. For me the BioRoboost exchange program was the perfect way to get acquainted with standardization in synthetic biology and its challenges in a hands on manner, with the opportunity to expand my network.”

Thank you Andries for participating in this exchange programme!

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