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Meet our pioneer: Sanne ten Damme

In Brainport Eindhoven we change the world because here we develop key technologies that change society. We can only do that because of our pioneers. So we’d like you to meet one of our pioneers: Sanne ten Damme.


In Brainport Eindhoven we change the world because here we develop key technologies that change society. We can only do that because of our pioneers. So we’d like you to meet one of our pioneers: Sanne ten Damme.


Who are you?

My name is Sanne ten Damme and I am 20 years old. Originally I'm from Hilversum, but since the beginning of my studies, I've been living in Eindhoven.

What do you study?

I am a second-year bachelor student of Medical Science and Technology at TU/e. I chose this program because I always wanted to do something with health. I have always found it interesting. I want to help people, give something back to others. I found medicine itself very one-sided; there you mainly learn how to solve diseases.

I also looked at studies at Delft University of Technology, but there was less focus on inventing and adding new things. At TU/e you look further. You don't only learn what is available now, but you also look beyond what else is possible. It is very future-oriented. There will be a lot more technology in the medical world and I would like to be part of that.

Are you going to do a master after this?

I would like to do the master that follows on from my bachelor, with the Master track Regenerative Medicine and Technology of Eindhoven University of Technology and Utrecht University. But first I want to do a gap year after my bachelor. I am still young, so I don't mind finishing my studies a year later. Besides, my sister will also have a gap year after high school and together with my parents, we will travel for a few months. After that I would like to work or do some internship, to get some more experience in the direction of my studies.

What student team are you on?

I am team captain at the TU/e sensing team (T.E.S.T.) since the end of 2020. With 10 students we are developing a biosensor for Influenza A and specifically the swine flu from 2009. We are making a biosensor. That is a device where you put saliva in and within 5 minutes you get the result if the virus is found and in what concentration. Every year we participate in the SensUs Student Competition and hopefully, we will win this year.

Why was the detection of the swine flu from 2009 chosen?

There is not much demand for swine flu detection now, but Influenza-A per se. The past five pandemics, apart from COVID-19, were all Influenza-A and the next pandemic is predicted to be Influenza-A as well. We did see how important it is to know if someone has a virus, so this is an important biosensor.

What do you do as a team captain?

Not only am I a team captain, but I also work on the biosensor myself. The team is divided into two groups. One group works on the chemical part for the reaction and the other group works on capturing and processing the signal. I'm in the first group.

And as team captain, I mainly keep an overview of whether everything is going well and if it isn't, then I have to step in. I also keep in reasonable contact with professors with whom we work.

Normally it’s master students who are team captains, but I am quite young so sometimes it is difficult because as a second-year student I have less knowledge than a master student.

Every year there is a completely new team, but we do get some guidance from the previous team. The advantage is that you can set your course. You have several prizes to win, so you can decide whether you want to improve an existing biosensor or develop a completely new one. We are currently working on a new technique. So new that we are going to get a patent on it in August.

How do young students develop a new technique, for which they have applied for a patent?

We didn't come up with it entirely on our own. Professor Menno Prins has been developing the technique for several years. We came into contact with him by chance and wanted to develop this technique further for the biosensor. It is really very exciting if this succeeds! It is also applicable to several viruses. You can add all sorts of antibodies to detect other viruses.

Why are you part of this student team?

I noticed that my courses are very theoretical. It's more like learning what is already there. But I want to discover and develop new things. We do that in the team and that makes me very happy.

"I'd really like to explore, to be able to come up with something new and add to it. I'd like to be able to say later on, "Look, I thought of this. I made this."

Sanne ten Damme

What do you want to do later on?

I always used to say I wanted to win the Nobel Prize, but maybe that's too far fetched. Just being in the lab doesn't seem extremely fun, although I have yet to experience that. But I'd really like to do some research, to come up with something new and be able to add to it. I'd like to be able to say later on, “Look, I thought of this. I made this.”

What do you think about studying and living in Brainport Eindhoven?

Many of my friends went to other cities, but I still chose the study that suits me best and so I ended up in Eindhoven. I found it a bit scary because Eindhoven is not known as a big student city. But everywhere you can have fun. In the end, the student life here is just as good as in Delft, for example. I like it very much here, even though I came to Eindhoven on my own. This forced me to meet new people and make new friends. That's why I joined a student association. Slowly but surely it really feels like my city.

What would you like to tell (future) students in Brainport Eindhoven?

Look beyond your studies. There are many student teams and in TU/e innovation Space you can do many projects. There are also sports clubs and student associations. You can do so much more than just follow your subjects. It is nice to do this during your time as a student before serious life begins. The offer is overwhelming, but it can be done on a large scale or a small scale. You can do almost anything you can think of. So go do that. Now you can.