Jeroen Cornelissen

The Project

Virus capsids as confined reaction spaces


Dr. Jeroen Cornelissen
Institute for Molecules and Materials
Radboud University
Toernooiveld 1
6525 ED Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Dutch scientist, Jeroen Cornelissen, aged 34, is an assistant professor at the Institute for Molecules and Materials at the Radboud University in the Netherlands, and a member of the scientific board of a macromolecular research spin-off company.  After gaining his PhD in organic chemistry at the Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen, he became a post-doctoral researcher at the IBM Almaden Research Center in the United States before he took up his present position. 

Cornelissen received several national and internation prizes and has been involved in a number of grant projects, including as principle investigator for a Vidi Innovative Research Grant from the Netherlands’ Organization of Scientific Research (NWO) studying the formation of novel macromolecular architectures, in 2005.  He is a regular contributor to journals such as "Angewandte Chemie", "Journal of the American Chemical Society" and "Chemical Communications".

Project Description

The spherical capsids (i.e. the protein mantle without the viral RNA) of the Cowpea Chlorotic Mottle Virus (CCMV) will be used as a Confined Reaction Space. When enzymes are encapsulated in this reactor, single capsid processes will be monitored by confocal fluorescence spectroscopy. Furthermore, the confined space will be used to prepare highly defined (functional) macromolecular architectures by performing polymerization reactions on the inside.

The CCMV has a well-defined shape and properties which will be employed to construct a nanoreactor. Investigations of (multiple) enzyme processes on the single reactor level, will lead to a better understanding of the coupling of reactions in place and time. Apart from enzymes, the virus capsid will be loaded with monomers, which will be subsequently polymerized to give well-defined biohybrid polymer particles. The properties of the capsid assembly can be changed upon the addition of polyelectrolytes, which will be studied using polymers with different topologies. Eventually, the inclusion of functional polymers will result in polymer particles with specific (e.g. redox active) properties.