Nienke van Dongen received her BSc and MSc in molecular life sciences from Wageningen University, The Netherlands. During her MSc, she specialized in physical chemistry and took part in the top sector chemistry program for talented students in analytical chemistry (TI-COAST).
After graduating in 2018, she joined the BIOS lab on a chip group at the University of Twente to start a PhD project on optical cancer biomarker detection on-chip under the supervision of prof. dr. ir. Segerink and prof dr. Eijkel. From November 2022 onwards she works in the same group as a postdoctoral researcher. Her work focusses mainly on integrating CRISPR/Cas biosensing techniques in microfluidic devices to enable cancer biomarker detection in urine.
My research focuses on (optical) cancer biomarker detection in urine. However, instead of looking at the color or assessing the taste of the urine, the focus is on the biomarkers present in the urine. Biomarkers are biomolecules that, at certain levels, can indicate whether people are ill, what type of disease they suffer from, and what the stage of the disease is.
By enabling cancer biomarker detection, I work on two different approaches, namely Plasmonic Detection which covers gold nanoparticle-based techniques for (digital) DNA molecule detection, and CRISPR/Cas Diagnostics, where we focus on the use of the Cas12a protein for the detection of specific tumor-DNA sequences.