Early stage researchers

[January 26, 2018] In addition to its regular researchers, LifeTec Group also employs a number of so-called early stage researchers. These talented employees from outside the Netherlands get EC funding for their foreign research in the form of a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA). What is it that drives these young researchers, and what’s in it for LifeTec Group?

'stepping stone'

"There are several reasons," says Linda Kock, Head of Research at LifeTec Group.

"First of all it's fantastic to be able to offer these beginning researchers a stepping stone. Many of them have just finished college, so this will be their first experience in the industry. And in a new country, too! They get the opportunity to work with the best researchers in their professional area."

both benefit

It's not just the early stage researchers who benefit from the collaboration; for LifeTec Group itself it's also a big plus.

"The young researchers can help us further develop the current LifeTec Group platforms as well as create new ones. We're simply too busy to always focus on that."

There are other advantages too, says Linda.

"LifeTec Group already has a fantastic network. But we can expand it even further through these Marie Curie researchers, who are all part of a huge international consortium of universities and businesses. This way we've already established a number of wonderful cont(r)acts."

LifeTec Group - Noemi Vanerio presenting - vessels
sick arteries

Noemi Vanerio (26) from Como, Italy works with LifeTec Group’s Vascular Bioreactor platform.

“In order to gather any meaningful information about the effects of medical devices on sick blood vessels, it’s important to create a situation that imitates reality as closely as possible. I developed a prognostic model that enables us to study sick blood vessels. Hopefully my study will contribute to more effective medication.”

dream job

Noemi studied Medical Engineering at the Politecnico of Milan. She came to work for LifeTec Group in October 2015.

“When I saw this vacancy on the MSCA website, I knew it right away: This is my dream job! And in reality it’s even better than I could have dreamed. I’ve never been welcomed more cordially than here. They see me as a full member of the team and I love that feeling of being appreciated.” 

In Linda’s opinion, Noemi is “very inspired, and her research is carefully thought out. I daresay the efforts of young researchers give the development of our Vascular Bioreactor platform an excellent boost.” 

Meanie Krüger - presenting the 'Biogel' project to her LifeTec Group colleagues
hydrogels & liver

Sometimes a study sparks off a new platform. 31-year-old Melanie Krüger from Germany, for example, developed a platform for testing hydrogels during her time with LifeTec Group. 

Hydrogels are used for - among other things - coatings of medical tools, regenerative drugs and diagnostic materials. However, the clinical application of hydrogels never took off because their long-term effects on the human body were not yet clear.

“This new platform should change that. It creates an opportunity for us to study more carefully how biomaterials affect tissues.”

the effects of regenerative biogels on the liver

Melanie even developed a second platform within the framework of her study.

“I wanted to demonstrate the effects of regenerative biogels on the liver. My platform is a liver from the slaughterhouse that we brought back to life. It allows us to run various tests with regenerative biogels in a real-life situation.”


[Picture: Melanie presenting 'her' liver platform to LifeTec Group's 'Science Weekend' guests]

Our German colleague really enjoys working for LifeTec Group. Much like Noemi she too loves being part of a small team.

“It’s more personal, you get to know each other.” She also noticed how hierarchy plays a much less important role in the Netherlands than in Germany. “That took a little getting used to at first, but now I feel completely integrated.”

Linda is happy with Melanie’s work. “These platforms have a lot of potential. Over the next few months we’ll help Melanie find ways to optimise the platforms so we can actually start marketing them.”

PhysioHeart™ Platform

LifeTec Group and PhysioHeart are often bracketed together. The beating heart platform is a huge success; it’s used for clients all from over the world to train specialists and help researchers find answers. Which doesn’t mean we’ve stopped developing it - on the contrary. 

keeping the beating heart alive longer

Benjamin Kappler, our 29-year-old early stage researcher from Germany, is currently studying ways of keeping the beating heart alive for longer periods of time. This would mean the platform can be used not only for training purposes, but also for studying the long-term effects of medication. Benjamin explains:

“One example could be the possible physiological reaction of the heart tissues to a new kind of drug.”

LifeTec Group - Ben Kappler and Jurgen de Hart

In recent months Benjamin has focused mainly on ‘reading out’ the heart.

“The blood levels tell you something about the condition of the heart. Based on those parameters you can then plan a course of action.”  

Benjamin is hopeful about greatly extending the life span of the beating heart in the end.

“But it will take quite a bit of research”. 

Benjamin studied Medical Biotechnology at the Technical University of Berlin. He’s been with LifeTec Group for almost two years now, and he enjoys it a lot.

“I feel very much at ease here. The people are nice and the work is challenging. It’s also an inspiration for me to work in a multi-disciplinary international team. That is such a great learning experience.”

Linda is very pleased with the efforts of these young researchers.

“I hope we can speed up medical progress together and improve the health and wellbeing of people all around the world. Because after all, that is what motivates and drives us at LifeTec Group.”

relevant links and background

Job openings:

  • Early stage reseacher position - ex vivo disease models of cartilage and bone [link]

Noemi Vanerio:

  • ASAIO Chicago [link]
  • 'Weekend van de Wetenschap' (Weekend of Science, Open House) [link]
  • Case description: Musicare [link]

Melanie Krüger:

  • Biogel workshop [link]
  • 'Weekend van de Wetenschap' (Weekend of Science, Open House) [link]
  • ESB conference, Athens [link]
  • Case description: Biogel [link]


  • More on livers / liver studies on this website: 
    • 'new models to predict liver toxicity' [link]

Benjamin Kappler:

  • 'Weekend van de Wetenschap' (Weekend of Science, Open House) [link]
  • Case description: VPH Case [link]

Platforms mentioned:

  • Vascular Bioreactor platform [link]
  • Liver platform [no public information available yet]
  • PhysioHeart platform [link]
Head of MedTech Innovation

Marco Stijnen

Head of Research & Training

Linda Kock

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