Martin Hanczyc

ENABLE talk: Droplet-based protocell models with embedded metabolism

Martin Hanczyc is a Professor of biochemistry and Principal Investigator at the Centre for Integrative Biology at the University of Trento, Italy.

He studied Biology at the Pennsylvania State University and then got his PhD in Genetics at the Yale University School of Medicine under the supervision of Dr. Robert L. Dorit. After that, he acquired a strong expertise in non-equilibrium soft matter physics and started his own lab at the University of Southern Denmark, becoming one of the world leading researchers in artificial biology, bio-inorganic chemistry and nanobioscience. In 2014, he decided to join the University of Trento to integrate his expertise in a more multidisciplinary context.

His research is aimed at integrating various aspects of artificial, synthetic and natural life, trying to assess the boundaries between living and non-living organisms. In particular, Hanczyc’s lab is currently involved in: 1) developing strategies to create artificial cells taking advantage of lipid bilayer interfaces and droplet-based emulsions; 2) developing robot interfaces to improve treatment and clean-up of wastewater for energy generation; 3) take advantage of polymers of hydrogen cyanide to mimic and understand early prebiotic chemistry on Earth.

Furthermore, Prof. Hanczyc’s career has evolved not only in academic institutions, but also in the private industry (as Chief Chemist in ProtoLife start-up) and in public outreach projects and events (TED Talks, New Scientist, BBC, WIRED and Scientific American) indicating the depth and the multidisciplinary nature of his career.