Welcome to the website of the Vorselen Lab of Mechanobiology and quantitative immune cell biology!
What we do
In the Vorselen Lab, we are fascinated by mechanical regulation of cell functions, specifically in our immune system, where immune cells use forces to guide target selection and enhance target killing. Indeed, physical forces have emerged as critical regulators of cell function over the past two decades. We focus on immune cell-target interactions, including phagocytosis and cytolytic synapse formation, which require rapid and large changes in cellular organization, are adaptable to targets yet robust, and are critical for human health.
We develop new biophysical technologies to tune the physical stimuli that cells receive and assess the forces they generate. We combine these techniques with quantitative microscopy and advanced cellular perturbations to interrogate complex cellular dynamics. Together, this provides an unusual quantitative readout of immune cell behavior and helps us understand the regulation of immune processes by physical forces in health and disease.
A special focus of our lab is phagocytosis by macrophages. This process is intriguing from a fundamental mechanobiology perspective: Although it is established that phagocytosis is generally more efficient for stiffer prey, how phagocytes sense and adapt to prey of varying rigidity remains almost entirely unknown. The force-generating machinery in phagocytosis is common to many other cellular processes, and understanding the physical principles underlying phagocytosis may give general insight into immune cell dynamics. Studying the mechanobiology of phagocytosis is equally important from a clinical perspective. Cancer cells, for example, may evade immune recognition through their “softness”. Revealing the target-specific mechanisms and regulators of phagocytosis may further facilitate the design of novel precision therapeutics aimed at macrophages.
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02-12 Daan is co-organizing the subgroup “The Mechanoimmunology of Movement and Manipulation” with Morgan Huse at the ASCB meeting in Boston! Join this interesting session!
04/09 Yakun and Natalia are starting their MSc thesis projects on the role of RAGE in phagocytosis and NK cell activation!
04/09 Cresci-Anne will be starting a project on the role of RAGE in phagocytosis as part of a collaboration with Gosia Teodorowicz.
12/07 Daan is giving a seminar at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG).
06/07 Time flies! Stijn is the first student to finish his MSc thesis and leave the lab. Thanks Stijn!
08/05 Youri joined! He is starting a research practice together with the lab of Siddharth Desphande.
02-05 Daan joined the organizing committee of the 2025 EMBO ImmunoBiophysics conference. Grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this fantastic conference!
09/04 – 14/04 Daan is speaking at the EMBO ImmunoBiophysics conference in les Houches, France.
20/02 Niek Frijlink and Anne Josten started their MSc thesis projects in the lab!
09/01 Stijn Hanssen is the first MSc thesis student to join the lab!
25/10 New review article out! Read all about the involved receptors and engulfment dynamics during uptake of apoptotic (dying) cells.
21/09 New article online! Part of a great ongoing collaboration with Mira Krendel, Nils Gauthier and Sarah Barger. This one shows how different classes of motor proteins keep each other in balance, and has perhaps the best phagocytosis movie (I may be biased)! See for yourself here
15/09 Daan is speaking at the EMBO meeting: Phagocytosis of dying cells in Ghent.
01/08 We’ve started! Grateful and excited for this opportunity.
31/07 New preprint online! Part of a fantastic collaboration with Michael Bassik and Roarke Kamber. We reveal unexpected and strange dynamics of phagocytosis, and we performed a CRISPR screen that establishes new regulators of phagocytosis!