Go to ewuu.nl

Professor Tom de Greef of the Eindhoven University of Technology has been honored with the prestigious NWO Vici grant for his groundbreaking work in the field of DNA data storage and editing. The grant, valued at 1.5 million euros, marks a significant milestone in De Greef’s career and underscores the importance of his pioneering research efforts. Tom is one of the four Board members of the Centre for Living Technologies.

De Greef’s project, titled “Next-generation micromaterials for DNA data storage and data editing”  (DNA Miner), aims to revolutionize the way data is stored and manipulated using DNA as the storage medium. With the exponential growth of digital data, conventional storage technologies are facing limitations in terms of capacity, longevity, and sustainability. DNA, with its unparalleled density and durability, offers a promising solution to these challenges.

Recent estimates suggest that existing data storage technologies will be unable to keep up with the exploding data production by 2030. This calls for an urgent need for highly efficient, non-volatile, and long-lasting storage media. DNA emerges as a frontrunner in this regard, owing to its remarkable properties. However, to fully harness the potential of DNA as a data storage solution, innovative technologies are required to facilitate scalable readout and manipulation of stored data.

De Greef’s DNA Miner project seeks to address this need by developing smart micromaterials and technologies that enhance the reading and editing capabilities of DNA data storage systems. By encapsulating DNA files within thermoresponsive, magnetic microcapsules, the research team aims to achieve scalable and repeated readout of data, physical manipulation and retrieval of individual files, and direct molecular operations on stored DNA.

The project represents a multidisciplinary endeavor that integrates material science, robotic automation, micro-engineering, and molecular biology. It aims not only to advance the current understanding of DNA data storage but also to train the next generation of scientists and engineers in this emerging field.

One of the key innovations proposed in DNA Miner is the development of thermoconfined, multiplex PCR, a novel method for random-access amplification of data stored on DNA. This method offers several advantages over existing PCR-based approaches, including improved access to DNA files and enhanced readout efficiency.

The originality and approach of DNA Miner lie in its unique platform for encapsulating DNA files and enabling automated, random-access readout, fluorescence, and magnetic-based file retrieval, dynamic file operations, and extending the lifetime of stored DNA. The project is divided into four interrelated work packages, reflecting its integrated and multidisciplinary nature.

Beyond its scientific significance, DNA Miner holds tremendous potential for societal impact. As traditional data storage technologies struggle to meet the growing demand for digital storage, DNA-based solutions offer a sustainable and efficient alternative. By enabling scalable and cost-effective readout of DNA data, DNA Miner could pave the way for widespread adoption of DNA data storage, with far-reaching implications for various industries and sectors.

Prof. Tom de Greef’s receipt of the NWO Vici grant for the DNA Miner project underscores the significance of his research in advancing the field of DNA data storage and editing. With its innovative approach and potential for societal impact, DNA Miner represents a major step forward in the quest for sustainable and efficient data storage solutions.

Vici grant:

The Vici grant, part of the NWO Talent Programme, supports advanced researchers who have demonstrated innovative research and mentorship skills. It is among the largest individual scientific grants in the country, allowing researchers to pursue innovative projects of their choice. This funding fosters talent promotion and boosts groundbreaking research across various fields. For more information on the grant, visit NWO Talent Programme.