Prof. Bert Poolman was trained in bioenergetics and microbiology (PhD with distinction in 1987) and moved to biochemistry and biophysics in later years. Central questions in his research are: i) how do molecules permeate biological membranes? and ii) how can one control solute fluxes and thereby the volume and physicochemistry of the cell? Poolman has a track record in vectorial biochemistry, including membrane transport and cellular osmoregulation as well as the development of innovative technologies in membrane biology. He has advanced the field of ATP-binding cassette (ABC) and secondary active transporters by combining functional and structural studies. Poolmans group is also credited with several methodological advances, including the expression and quality control of membrane proteins, which are crucial for the in vitro reconstitution of cellular function and microscopy analysis of translocation processes. His main current research areas include:
- Bacterial cell-volume regulation: elucidation of the homeostatic mechanisms that control the physicochemistry of the cell;
- Synthetic cells: bottom up construction of functional far-from-equilibrium systems for metabolic energy conservation and development of a volume regulatory network;
- Traffic of membrane proteins: understanding of the targeted delivery, localization and energetics of nutrient transporters in the plasma membrane of yeast.
Poolman has published almost 300 peer-reviewed papers with >19,000 citations; his h-index is 75 (Google Scholar) and 64 (Web of Science). He is editor of the Journal of Molecular Biology. He is member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), flagship manager Synthetic Biology of the public-private research program BE-Basic, and Focus Area leader of the Excellence Centre Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials. In 2015 he was awarded an ERC Advanced grant. Annually, he provides >10 plenary or keynote lectures.
Three top publications 2010-2016
1. Boersma A.J., Zuhorn I. & Poolman B. (2015) A sensor for quantification of macromolecular crowding in living cells. Nature Methods 12:227-229. DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.3257
2. Gouridis G., Schuurman-Wolters G.K., Ploetz E., Husada F., Vietrov R., de Boer M., Cordes T. & Poolman, B. (2015) Conformational dynamics in substrate-binding domains influences transport in the ABC importer GlnPQ. Nature Structural and Molecular Biology 22: 57-64. DOI:10.1038/nsmb.2929
3. Meinema A.C., Laba J.K., Hapsari R.A., Otten R., Mulder F.A.A., Kralt A., van den Bogaart G., Lusk C.P., Poolman B. & Veenhoff L.M. (2011) Long unfolded linkers facilitate membrane protein import through the nuclear pore complex. Science 333: 90-93. DOI: 10.1126/science.1205741 [Highlighted in Science (Perspective) by RW Kriwacki & MK-Yoon Fishing in the nuclear pore.]
ranked worldwide as no.9 in Materials Research Institutes according to the Times Higher Education index, straddled between Princeton University and MIT.
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