Lukas Kapitein studied Physics and Astronomy at the VU University in Amsterdam, where he also received his PhD in Biophysics in 2007. His postdoctoral training in Neurobiology was at the Erasmus Medical Center, funded by an NWO Vernieuwingsimpuls ALW-VENI grant and an Erasmus MC Fellowship. As of 2011, he works as an Assistant Professor at Utrecht University. In 2013, he received an ERC Starting Grant from the European Research Council and a VIDI fellowship from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research.
The group of Lukas Kapitein aims to obtain a physical understanding of the mechanisms by which cells establish and maintain their precise shape and intracellular organization. He focuses on the cytoskeleton, a mechanical network of biopolymers and associated proteins that gives the cell its shape and strength. Motor proteins can move over these biopolymers to deliver cargo to specific subcellular compartments or to reorganize the fibers themselves. His current research concentrates on the cytoskeleton of neurons, the brain cells whose complex spatial architecture and polarized organization into axons and dendrites are crucial for proper functioning. Obtaining physical insight in the mechanisms that establish polarity, polarized transport and dendrite maturation is important, as neurodegenerative diseases often correlate with altered morphology and distorted intracellular transport.
To achieve these goals, we combine protein engineering, optogenetics, advanced (super-resolution) microscopy techniques (confocal microscopy, TIRFM, STED, dSTORM) and mathematical modeling.