MBB News

NWO ENW Open Competition M1 Grant

In May 2024, Toon de Kroon was awarded an ENW-M1 grant to carry out the project “Regulation of membrane lipid acyl chain length: a tug of war between two enzymes?”. Optimal membrane fluidity is essential to ensure proper function of biological membranes. A key factor determining membrane fluidity is the length of the acyl chains attached to the lipids that constitute the membrane matrix. We aim to elucidate the regulation of lipid acyl chain length in the model eukaryote S. cerevisiae (baker’s yeast), including the players involved. The underlying hypothesis states that acyl chain length is determined by a tug of war between acetyl-CoA carboxylase and fatty acid synthase, the key enzymes catalyzing fatty acid synthesis.

PhD defence Yang Xu

On Monday 26 February 2024, Yang Xu successfully defended his PhD thesis 'The Bacterial Cell Envelope: Specific Labelling and Its Applications'.
Yang defended his dissertation online from China.

Congratulations dr. Yang and to the supervisors Eefjan Breukink and Roland Pieters!

Spetses Advanced Lecture Course

Eefjan Breukink co-organizes the EMBO-FEBS Advanced Lecture Course: 
"Membranes, Lipids and Proteins in Organelle Biogenesis"

DATE: Sunday May 26th – Saturday June 1st, 2024
LOCATION: Isle of Spetses, Greece
WEBSITE & Registration: spetses2024.sites.uu.nl
Registration deadline: 1 April 2024

PhD defence Xiaoqi Wang

On Wednesday 6 December 2023, Xiaoqi Wang successfully defended her PhD thesis 'Membrane Effects of Antimicrobial Peptides'.
Xiaoqi defended her dissertation online from China. 

Congratulations dr. Xiaoqi and to her supervisors Antoinette Killian and Eefjan Breukink!

Welcome to Pavlo Stehantsev

On October 1st, 2023, Pavlo Stehantsev started as postdoc at MBB. 
He will work in the team of Toon de Kroon at the collaborative research project CAMELOT: Coenzyme A & MEmbrane Lipids, an Opportunity for Treatment. The aim is to understand the complex interrelationship between CoA and membrane lipids with the aim of developing treatments for CoA-linked diseases.
Welcome Pavlo!

Welcome to Christian Kaiser

MBB is very pleased to welcome Christian Kaiser, as a new professor to the group.
Christian started September 1st, 2023 and is appointed chair in Biophysical Chemistry of Membranes & Proteins.
You can read more about his work & projects on the MBB website and on Christian's UU profile page


Interview / Podcast Maik Derks - Clovibactine

On 29 August 2023, Maik Derks (MBB & NMR PhD candidate) was interviewed by the Dutch Radio station BNR about the discovery of Clovibactine.  
This is the link to the 7 minute Dutch interview/ podcast

MBB lab outing 2023

On June 29th 2023, MBB organized the annual lab outing. 

After fun sports activities and puzzles at Olympos, we enjoyed a delicious BBQ.

Eefjan Breukink appointed as professor

On 15 June 2023, Utrecht University has appointed Eefjan Breukink as Professor of Microbial Membranes and Antibiotics. Eefjan and his group are engaged in research aimed at finding new antibiotics that target bacterial cell membranes, the structures that separate the inside and outside of bacteria. 

Read more about Eefjan's appointment in the press release. 

Cum Laude PhD Defence - Rhythm Shukla

On Monday 6 March 2023, Rhythm Shukla successfully defended her PhD thesis 'New era of lipid-targiting peptide antibiotics' with a cum laude designation.

Congratulations to Rhythm and her supervisor Markus Weingarth!

Interview with Zexi Xu

In February 2023, MBB postdoc Zexi Xu was interviewed by the European Synthetic Cell Initiative for the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Read the article about the International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Interview Tessa Sinnige - Data Management Plans

Tessa Sinnige working in her lab

In February '23, Tessa Sinnige was interviewed about the importance of making Data Management Plans.

Read the interview with Tessa.

Zon-Mw Open Competition Grant

In December 2022, Ody Sibon (UMCG) and Toon de Kroon were awarded a ZonMW Open Competition grant for carrying out the collaborative research project CAMELOT: Coenzyme A & MEmbrane Lipids, an Opportunity for Treatment. Research teams will join forces to understand the complex interrelationship between CoA and membrane lipids with the aim of developing treatments for CoA-linked diseases. Read more about ZonMW.

NWO ENW-XS grant - Tessa Sinnige

In November 2022, Tessa Sinnige was awarded the ENW-XS grant from NWO for her research on protein aggregation in C. elegans as a model organism. Her team will investigate how protein aggregation develops around the time of death of the organism, which could have major implications for our understanding of disease mechanisms. Read the article about Twenty-six groundbreaking research projects awarded via the Open Competition Domain Science – XS.

MBB Lab Outing

On October 12th 2022, MBB organized the annual lab outing. The group was challenged to be creative like Picasso. In the afternoon, we did some nice games like kubb, laser gaming, frisbee golf and cheese rolling outside in the forest of De Bilt. It was a nice and relaxing day! 

Gold for Eefjan Breukink @ Hockey Masters World Cup

Eefjan speelt hockey

In October 2022, Eefjan Breukink won a gold medal with the Dutch national team at the Hockey Masters World Cup in Cape Town South Africa.
Congratulations Eefjan!

You can read more about Eefjan's hockey adventure at the UU website

Enzymology Symposium - Maarten Egmond

On the occasion of the retirement of emeritus professor Maarten Egmond, after more than 50 years of research in Enzymology, we organized the Symposium ‘Enzymology, Past, Present, Future’ on October 6th, 2022. Current understanding of structure-function relationships of enzymes were shared and highlighted by 10 experts in the area of Enzymology. Also insight has been presented to strengthen understanding of enzymes for further application in Academia and Industry.
We look back on a wonderful day! 

Welcome to Vera

On October 1st 2022, Vera van Schijndel joined MBB as PhD candidate in the C. elegans team of Tessa Sinnige. 

Welcome Vera!

PhD Defence Adrian Kopf

On Monday 26 September 2022, Adrian Kopf successfully defended his PhD thesis 'Membrane Solubilization by Amphipathic Copolymers - Expanding the Toolbox for the Study of Membrane Proteins'.

Congratulations dr. Adrian!


Welcome to Zexi

September 1st 2022, Zexi Xu started as postdoc at MBB in the Plasma project. 

Welcome Zexi!  

Co-publication in Nature

Several group members of MBB have together with the group of Markus Weingarth, Kim Lewis from the US and others published in the August 11, 2022 issue of Nature. In this article the NMR structure of the complex of a rather novel antibiotic teixobactin in interaction with its target Lipid II is shown. Besides this, we demonstrate that it forms, together with Lipid II, fibrillar like structures on the membrane that are likely to be responsible for the additional membrane perturbation that teixobactin causes. Read the article Teixobactin kills bacteria by a two-pronged attack on the cell envelope.
Congratulations to Rhythm and all co-authors!

Interview Maik Derks - about Nature Publication

Maik Derks (MBB & NMR PhD candidate) was interviewed by the Dutch Radio station NPO1 about the Nature publication mentioned above.  
This is the link to the 5 minute interview, from minute 31'20 onwards. 
Moreover RTV Utrecht has written a Dutch article about the publication Utrechtse wetenschappers doen belangrijke antibioticum-ontdekking: 'Nu testen op dieren en mensen'.

Chemistry Worm Lab Tour - 1 September

Tessa Sinnige

The nematode C. elegans has made its way into the Chemistry department as a new model organism! 
You are very welcome to visit the lab of Tessa Sinnige's group.
DATE: Thursday 1 September 2022
TIME: 16h-17h - Lab tour with 4 different demonstrations starting every 15 minutes & at 17h Drinks
LOCATION: Kruyt building 8th floor, East wing


From 27 June to 1 July 2022, the Plasma Group of Joseph Lorent co-organized the 9th edition of the International Conference on Plasma Medicine in Utrecht. 
At ICPM9, MBB PhD candidate Min Xie received the 'Best Student Paper Award' for her oral presentation. More information can be found at the ICPM9 conference website

Award ceremony with Min Xie

Retirement Antoinette Killian

On April 29th 2022, Antoinette Killian has become emeritus professor at Utrecht University. Eefjan Breukink has succeeded Antoinette as MBB group head.
Thank you very much Antoinette for all the wonderful work you did for MBB, Chemistry and Utrecht University!

Spetses Advanced Lecture Course

Eefjan Breukink successfully co-organized the EMBO-FEBS Advanced Lecture Course: 
“Lipids, proteins and their interactions in organelle biology”

DATE: Sunday May 29th – Saturday June 4th, 2022
LOCATION: Isle of Spetses, Greece
WEBSITE: spetses2022.sites.uu.nl


MBB lab filmed

In March 2022, our lab was used as background in an item on doping in sports by the Dutch Broadcasting Company (NOS). Watch the video about doping (in Dutch).

NOS at MBB lab

Publication Mike Renne & MBB co-authors

Former PhD student Mike Renne published part of his PhD research in the January 17, 2022 issue of the EMBO Journal. In collaboration with the lab of Christer Ejsing (SDU, Odense), Mike demonstrated that mitochondrial phospholipid import is molecular species selective.
Read the article about his research.
Congratulations to Mike and co-authors!

Eefjan Breukink - MBB Group Head

Due to the upcoming retirement of Antoinette Killian, Eejan Breukink has taken over as head of MBB starting January 1st, 2022.

Publication Xue Bao & MBB co-authors

In October 2021, our study on yeast suppressor mutants devoid of the major membrane lipid phosphatidylcholine has now been published in the EMBO Journal.
Read the article of Xue Bao and the MBB co-authors.
Congratulations to Xue Bao and co-authors!


From 12 till 15 October 2021, MBB co-organized the 61st International Conference on the Bioscience of Lipids in Utrecht. The meeting included plenary lectures by established and young scientists, the Van Deenen lecture, poster presentations, as well as opportunities for networking and social activities. We thank all the participants and speakers for their contributions to make this a successful live conference. You can read more about the Conference ICBL2021.

Welcome to Mehmet Akdag & Maithili Joshi

On March 1st 2021, Mehmet Akdag joined MBB as PhD candidate in the C. elegans team of Tessa Sinnige.
On April 1st 2021, PhD candidate Maithili Joshi joined the MBB C. elegans team too. 
Welcome Mehmet and Maithili!

New MBB group picture

New: our 1,5m proof MBB group picture!

Welcome to Ramon van den Bos

On 15 November 2020, Ramon van den Bos started in a postdoc position at MBB in the team of Eefjan Breukink.

Welcome Ramon! 

Welcome to Jorieke Tiggelaar

On November 1st 2020, Jorieke Tiggelaar has started at MBB as technician in the C. elegans team of Tessa Sinnige.

Welcome Jorieke!

Welcome to Tessa Sinnige

Tessa Sinnige

On September 1st 2020, Tessa Sinnige has started at MBB as Assistant Professor.
Tessa studies protein aggregation using C. elegans as a model organism.
You can read more about her research on Tessa's MBB profile page and the website of the Sinnige lab.

Visit Eveline Koch primary school

Visit Eveline Koch primary school

Eveline Koch, MBB’s research technician, visited primary school Fatima in IJsselstein in February 2020.
Eveline entertained the youngest classes with various fascinating chemical experiments.
The visit was organized because of the school theme ‘Laboratory & Experiments’.
The children were incredibly enthusiastic and impressed.

Welcome to Maik Derks

Maik Derks

In February 2020, PhD candidate Maik started working on the 'Optimization of antibiotics targeting Lipid II' research under supervision of Eefjan Breukink (MBB) and Markus Weingarth (NMR). Via determining the structure of antibiotic-Lipid II complexes to the atomic detail, information on the mechanism of action is gained.
This will lead to novel ideas how to optimize the structure either chemically or via modern chemoenzymatic or bioconjugation methods, such that novel and improved antibiotics are obtained.