A small history of my passion

Dr. Nadine Bongaerts is Chief Innovation Officer at the French cultured meat startup GOURMEY and synthetic biologist by training. GOURMEY’s first mission is to merge culinary arts and state-of-the-art science to reinvent France’s most iconic delicacy, foie gras.

Throughout her career, she has been determined to accelerate the so-called ‘biorevolution’ in which the convergence of biological and the digital worlds can create a vast range of applications that are smarter, smaller and cleaner. Those innovations are already impacting all sectors: from agriculture to medicine and from new materials to cleaner fuels, but she strongly believes that this technological revolution can only reach its full potential if science takes into account both business and society.

Before joining GOURMEY, she graduated in 2019 with the highest honors from her Ph.D. in synthetic biology that she received from University Paris Descartes. For her Ph.D. she worked on the development of a novel drug screening method to accelerate the discovery of antibiotics against tuberculosis and to predict mechanisms of antibiotic resistance. Before, she obtained her bachelor and master degree in Life Science & Technology from Delft University of Technology and Leiden University.

Her interest for synthetic biology was sparked when in 2010 she participated in the iGEM (Internationally Engineered Machine) competition organised at the MIT. The TU Delft team she was part of developed standardised parts of DNA – biobricks – to transform bacteria into oil digesting cells. Their work was subsequently recognised both nationally and internationally and received several awards.

During iGEM, she began to realise the gap between scientific advances in biotechnology and the importance to improve the general awareness about those developments. Together with Eva Brinkman she decided to work on bridging that gap and in 2011 she co-founded communication and education agency Science Matters.

At the moment, Science Matters works for leading universities to provide communication training for scientist and develops education to enthuse children and adults about science. The company is currently a partner organisation in three EU Horizon2020 consortia EpiPredict, COSMIC and MSCA-ITN-ETN AiPBAND.

But her passion for teaching goes back before she founded Science Matters. Nadine started teaching at the age 16 when she taught biology, physics and chemistry classes at Luzac College Breda & Leiden.

Later, she gave guest lectures on Synthetic Biology & Art at the Royal Art Academy in The Hague, assisted the course for Synthetic Biology at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Paris and has mentored the iGEM Bettencourt Team 2016 .

She is currently Global Faculty member for Synthetic Biology at Singularity University where she informs C-level corporates and politicians about the latest developments in biotechnology.

Nadine is also active in the deep-tech startup scene. In 2012, she became the Dutch chairman of the Kairos Society , a global community to connect innovative young entrepreneurs and in 2016 she was appointed as Vice President of Hello Tomorrow .

Hello Tomorrow is a Paris-based non-profit organisation that helps science entrepreneurs in their journey to bringing laboratory inventions to the market. Annually, Hello Tomorrow organises an Global Summit for science entrepreneurship in Paris gathering over 2000+ change makers from around the world and has hubs in every continent to foster the development of deep-tech ecosystems.

As a passionate and engaging speaker, Nadine Bongaerts is regularly interviewed / asked to to speak about the possibilities of synthetic biology.

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