dr. B.J. Connell (Bridgette)

EU Grants Project Manager

About Me

Hi, my name is Bridgette Connell and I am South African through birth and recently became Italian through marriage. I have always had a passion for human health and that is what drove me to pursue a career in medical research. I specialized in HIV research as, this is in my opinion, one of the biggest health problems that the world (and especially South Africa) faces. My life path took me from South Africa, to France and now it has brought me to the East of the Netherlands where I am extremely happy to have joined the EU Project Management Team in the Strategic Business Development Division at the University of Twente. 

I have been managing European Funded projects for four years now and I am very happy and excited to be in this stimulating and fast-moving role.

My first project where I worked as project manager was the DE-ENIGMA project - A fascinating interplay between Robots and Autistic children and the complexity to bring those worlds together.

I also was the project manager for the PrimaVera (Predictive Maintenance) Project funded by NWO and co-ordinated by Prof. dr. Mariëlle Stoelinga

I was the project manager for the following two ITN projects

  • The ITN H2020 funded MAGISTER (Machine Learning and Aeroplane combustion engines) Project co-ordinated by Dr. Ir. Jim Kok .

I am also assisting in the project management on DIH-HERO, Digital Innovation Hubs in Healthcare Robotics funded by Horizon 2020 as part of their Research and Innovation Programme and INCENTIVE - Citizen Science Hubs, which is a SWAFS EU funded project.


Engineering & Materials Science
Flow Cytometry
Sample Preparation


Wasserberg, D. , Zhang, X. , Breukers, C. , Connell, B. J., Baeten, E., van den Blink, D., Solà Benet, È., Bloem, A. C., Nijhuis, M., Wensing, A. M. J. , Terstappen, L. W. M. M. , & Beck, M. (2018). All-printed cell counting chambers with on-chip sample preparation for point-of-care CD4 counting. Biosensors & bioelectronics, 117, 659-668. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bios.2018.07.002
Other Contributions

Baleux F, Arien K, Desjardins D, Michiels J, Coic Y-M, Connell BJ, et al. Mini CD4-heparan Sulfate Mimetic Conjugates Display Sub Nanomolar Anti-HIV-1 Activity and Protect Macaques against a SHIV162P3 Vaginal Route Challenge. AIDS research and human retroviruses. 2014;30(S1):A262-A.

Bell CM, Connell BJ, Capovilla A, Venter WD, Stevens WS, Papathanasopoulos MA. Molecular characterization of the HIV type 1 subtype C accessory genes vif, vpr, and vpu. AIDS research and human retroviruses. 2007;23(2):322-30.

Biedma ME, Connell B, Schmidt S, Lortat-Jacob H, Moog C, Prakash E. Anti-HIV and immune modulating activities of IND02. Retrovirology. 2012;9(S2):P220.

Colin P, Zhou Z, Staropoli I, Garcia-Perez J, Gasser R, Armani-Tourret M, et al. CCR5 structural plasticity shapes HIV-1 phenotypic properties. PLoS pathogens. 2018;14(12):e1007432.

Connell BJ, Hermans LE, Wensing AMJ, Schellens I, Schipper PJ, van Ham PM, et al. Immune activation correlates with and predicts CXCR4 co-receptor tropism switch in HIV-1 infection. Sci Rep. 2020;10(1):15866.

Connell B, Baleux F, Coic Y, Clayette P, Bonnaffe D, Lortat-Jacob H, editors. A synthetic heparan sulfate-mimetic peptide conjugated to a mini CD4 displays very high anti-HIV activity. JOURNAL OF PEPTIDE SCIENCE; 2012: WILEY-BLACKWELL 111 RIVER ST, HOBOKEN 07030-5774, NJ USA.

Connell BJ, Baleux F, Coic Y-M, Clayette P, Bonnaffé D, Lortat-Jacob H. A synthetic heparan sulfate-mimetic peptide conjugated to a mini CD4 displays very high anti-HIV-1 activity independently of coreceptor usage. Chemistry & biology. 2012;19(1):131-9.

Connell BJ, Chang S-Y, Prakash E, Yousfi R, Mohan V, Posch W, et al. A cinnamon-derived procyanidin compound displays anti-HIV-1 activity by blocking heparan sulfate-and co-receptor-binding sites on gp120 and reverses T cell exhaustion via impeding tim-3 and PD-1 upregulation. PloS one. 2016;11(10):e0165386.

Connell BJ, Lortat-Jacob H. Human immunodeficiency virus and heparan sulfate: from attachment to entry inhibition. Frontiers in immunology. 2013;4:385.

Connell BJ, Michler K, Capovilla A, Venter WD, Stevens WS, Papathanasopoulos MA. Emergence of X4 usage among HIV-1 subtype C: evidence for an evolving epidemic in South Africa. Aids. 2008;22(7):896-9.

Connell BJ, Sadir R, Baleux F, Laguri C, Kleman J-P, Luo L, et al. Heparan sulfate differentially controls CXCL12α-and CXCL12γ-mediated cell migration through differential presentation to their receptor CXCR4. Sci Signal. 2016;9(452):ra107-ra.

Michler K, Connell BJ, Venter WD, Stevens WS, Capovilla A, Papathanasopoulos MA. Genotypic characterization and comparison of full-length envelope glycoproteins from South African HIV type 1 subtype C primary isolates that utilize CCR5 and/or CXCR4. AIDS research and human retroviruses. 2008;24(5):743-51.

Van Lelyveld S, Symons J, Van Ham P, Connell B, Nijhuis M, Wensing A, et al. Clinical outcome of maraviroc-containing therapy in heavily pre-treated HIV-1-infected patients. International journal of antimicrobial agents. 2016;47(1):84-90.

Wasserberg D, Zhang X, Breukers C, Connell BJ, Baeten E, van den Blink D, et al. All-printed cell counting chambers with on-chip sample preparation for point-of-care CD4 counting. Biosensors and bioelectronics. 2018;117:659-68.



Google Scholar Link


Higher Education

Year Institution Degree Awarded / Training Field of Study  
2018 – current day
University of Twente, Enschede *
EU Grant Project Manager
Project Management
2014 – 2016
University Medical Centre Utrecht *
Marie Curie
Post Doc 
Switch of R5 HIV-1 to X4 HIV-1
2012 - 2013 University of Twente, Enschede *
Post doc HIV-1 and Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Test
2008 - 2012 Institut de Biologie Structurale ** Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology - Screening and optimization of HIV-1 entry inhibitors by Surface Plasmon Resonance
2008 Unit for Virus Host-Cell Interactions (UVHCI) **
Voluntary 8 month Training Structural Biology – Structure resolution of tetherin, HIV-1 host restriction factor
2005– 2007
University of the Witwatersrand *** Masters of Science 
(MSc - Medical)
Molecular Medicine and Haematology – Adaptation of HIV-1 isolate to CD4-independence               
2004 - 2005 University of the Witwatersrand *** Bachelor of Science (BSc) (Honours)
Molecular Medicine and Haematology
2001 - 2003 University of the Witwatersrand *** Bachelor of Science (BSc) Biochemistry, Genetics, Mathematics

*   The Netherlands 

**  UniversitéJoseph Fourier, Grenoble, France

*** Johannesburg, South Africa              

Contact Details

Visiting Address

University of Twente
Strategic Business Development
Citadel (building no. 09), room H309
Hallenweg 15
7522NH  Enschede
The Netherlands

Navigate to location

Mailing Address

University of Twente
Strategic Business Development
Citadel  H309
P.O. Box 217
7500 AE Enschede
The Netherlands

Working days

Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

Social Media