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specialism
Department

Urology

Our motto: "research" = care. We aim to improve the diagnosis, treatment and outcome in patients with urologic diseases by translational, clinical and epidemiological research, and education of students and professionals.

About our department

Our research

Introduction to our research

Our research has four main themes: urological oncology, functional urology, andrology/fertility and paediatric urology. We cover the full spectrum from fundamental research and translational studies to clinical trials, implementation of research findings in clinical practice, and epidemiology through collaborations between clinical and preclinical scientists. The research is largely based on clinical trials and data from clinical populations, biobanking and registries, in vivo and in vitro tumor and neuro-urologic models, molecular genetics and biomarker research. 

Regional, national and international positioning of our research

We have long-lasting research collaborations with other university medical centers, (technical) universities, research organisations, companies and patient organisations in the Netherlands and abroad. In particular, we have an extensive international prostate cancer research network with multiple partners from the public, private and social sectors, and are and have been coordinating many (inter)national consortia. Our international leading role in bladder cancer research is acknowledged by our membership of the International Bladder Cancer network and participation in European-funded projects. We are the co-founder of the Anser Prostate Cancer Network involving seven specialized hospitals that provide 20-25% of the Dutch prostate cancer care, and the founder of the Regional Bladder Cancer Center that coordinates the care for all patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer in the southwestern part of the Netherlands (3 million inhabitants). Both networks are of great importance for our research. 

Introduction to our research training

We provide research training to Bachelor, Master and PhD students through our participation in the Erasmus MC Research Master's programs in Molecular Medicine and Clinical Sciences, the Erasmus MC Postgraduate School Molecular Medicine, the Bachelor's and Master’s program in Nanobiology and Clinical Technology together with TU Delft and LUMC, and European Training Networks funded by the European Commission Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions programme. Our department is a recognized site for andrology research scholarships provided by the European Association of Urology.

Principal Investigators

Functional urological disorders

Kidney disorders

Male fertility

Paediatric Urology

Prostate cancer

Urothelial cancer

Research funding support

Research Lines

Functional urological disorders

The overall goal of this research line is to optimize the clinical management of neurogenic and non-neurogenic bladder dysfunction, including urinary incontinence and retention, in paediatric and adult patients. The research line is a collaboration between the sectors Functional Urology and Paediatric Urology. 

More information is available at:

  • Functional urology research group

Kidney disorders

More information is available at:

Male fertility

The male fertility research line is a small but important research line run by a nationally recognized team of clinical experts on male fertility, oncofertility and fertility preservation including testicular sperm extraction (TESE), gonadal development and testicular cancer. The overall goals are to gain more insights in the determinants of male genital (mal)development, and to identify the best sperm cell for in vitro fertilization.

More information is available at:

Male fertility research group

Paediatric urology

Research in the sector Paediatric urology focuses on functional urological disorders, hypospadias and disorders/differences of sexual development (DSD) in children.

More information is available at:

  • Functional urology research group
  • Fred van der Toorn
  • Joop van den Hoek
  • Katja Wolffenbuttel

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer has been a major research focus since decades. The prostate cancer research line covers the full research and innovation chain, from fundamental research to bridge knowledge gaps, translational research to transform new findings into innovative tools suitable for application in health care settings, to clinical trials and implementation research studies. The overall objectives are:

  • Understand the mechanisms for the origin and progression of prostate cancer and through novel insights identify new biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis and therapy monitoring, and new therapy leads. PIs Jenster, Martens-Uzunova, van de Werken
  • Study cancer mechanisms and novel (combination) therapies in human and animal models of prostate cancer. PI van Weerden
  • Develop and implement digital predictive models for the diagnosis and prognosis of prostate cancer to support decision-making by citizens and health care professionals. PI Roobol
  • Innovation and management of care in regional and national prostate centre networks. PI Bangma

More information is available at:

  • Bangma research group
  • Jenster research group
  • Martens-Uzunova research group
  • Roobol research group
  • van Weerden research group
  • van de Werken research group

Urothelial cancer

Bladder cancer research is an emerging research priority within our department and Erasmus MC. This research line is characterized by fundamental research to understand the mechanisms of action for this tumor type, and by translational research to bring novel research findings to the patients. The overall objective is to improve diagnosis, treatment outcomes and survival for bladder cancer and upper urinary tract cancer through risk stratification, personalized medicine and new therapies. 

More information is available at:

  • Urothelial cancer research group

Functional urology

We aim to optimize the clinical management of neurogenic and non-neurogenic bladder dysfunction, including urinary incontinence and retention, in paediatric and adult patients.

Male fertility research group

Our research goal is to gain more insights in the determinants of male genital development and maldevelopment and to identify the best sperm cell for in vitro fertilization.

Prostate Cancer - Bangma research group

Our group reflects and acts on the overall management of prostate cancer care in regional and national prostate center networks, and on the integration of technical and logistic innovations.

Prostate Cancer - Jenster research group

Our goal is to understand the mechanisms for the origin and progression of prostate cancer, and through novel insights identify new biomarkers for prostrate cancer diagnosis, prognosis and therapy monitoring, and new therapy leads.

Prostate Cancer - Roobol research group

Our goal is to perform epidemiological research and develop predictive models for diagnosis and prognosis within the field of urology, to be implemented as a digital solution for smart choices: data from many for the outcome of one.

Prostate Cancer - van Weerden research group

Our goal is to understand mechanisms of therapy resistance of prostate cancer using relevant models, to develop novel targeted therapies and combinations thereof and demonstrate preclinical proof-of-concept.

Urothelial cancer

Our objective is to improve the diagnosis and outcome of urothelial cancer by unravelling its molecular biology and develop and implement risk stratification, personalized medicine and new therapies.

Projects

  • Functional urology research group
  • Male fertility research group
  • Prostate cancer: care innovation - Bangma research group
  • Prostate cancer: mechanisms and biomarkers - Jenster research group
  • Prostate cancer: epitranscriptomics - Martens-Uzunova research group
  • Prostate cancer: predictive modelling - Roobol research group
  • Prostate cancer: mechanisms and therapies - van Weerden research group
  • Prostate cancer: computational biology - van de Werken research group
  • Urothelial cancer research group

Notable results

Functional urological disorders research results in the past 5 years

  • Demonstration of clinical efficacy in paediatric and adult patients of various treatment options, including sacral neuromodulation, ProACTTM (a minimally invasive continence balloon to treat urinary incontinence), intra-sphincteric botulinum toxin A injections, reconstructive surgery and urotherapy.
  • Cochrane review on clinical management of neurogenic bladder, demonstrating that more research is needed to assess the efficacy of surgical treatment options and of botulinum A toxin.

Male fertility research results in the past 5 years

  • Important advancements in fundamental insights and clinical management have been made for:
  • Cryptorchidism, gonadal function and male fertility.
  • Male hypogonadism and Men`s Health.
  • Oncofertility and early diagnosis of testicular cancer.

Prostate cancer research results in the past five years

  • Novel insights in genetic mechanisms. 
  • Identification of exosomes as biomarkers.
  • Identification of small non-coding RNAs as molecular markers.
  • Elucidation of molecular mechanisms of docetaxel resistance and revealing cross-resistance of docetaxel and antiandrogen
  • Development of a novel PSMA-nanobody for PSMA-targeted imaging and radiotherapy.
  • Novel patient-derived models established in Movember GAP1-PDX.
  • Clinical management changes through continuously updated predictive algorithms based on ERSPC data.
  • Worldwide research on active surveillance in PRIAS and Movember GAP3 networks.
  • Use of ERSPC-Rotterdam section repository of screening data and biomaterials for research (e.g. IMI-2 PIONEER).

Urothelial cancer research results in the past 5 years

  • Development of urinary genomic biomarkers.
  • International recognition of biomarker research expertise by the coordination of the European MOLCARUTUC project.
  • Development of assays and cell lines for preclinical research, and a biobanking infrastructure for fundamental and data-driven research.
  • Initiation of the national multi-center CirGuidance Study on circulating tumor cells as marker for chemotherapy indication in 2013.
  • Lead of the national multi-center REBACARE trial on reduction of recurrence by pre-operative bladder rinsing with chemotherapy since 2017.

Publications

Functional urological disorders

Long-term results of continent catheterizable urinary channels in adults with non-neurogenic or neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction.
Groenendijk IM, van den Hoek J, Blok BFM, Nijman RJM, Scheepe JR. (2019). Scand J Urol 2019;53:145-50.

Long-term follow-up of bladder outlet procedures in children with neurogenic urinary incontinence.
Noordhoff TC, van den Hoek J, Yska MJ, Wolffenbuttel KP, Blok BFM, Scheepe JR. (2019). J Pediatr Urol 2019;15:35.e1-35.e8.

Outcome and complications of adjustable continence therapy (ProACT™) after radical prostatectomy: 10 years' experience in 143 patients.
Noordhoff TC, Scheepe JR, Blok BFM. (2018). Neurourol Urodyn 2018;37:1419-25.

Kidney disorders

The European Association of Urology Guideline on Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC) is Not Concise in its Recommendation to Perform Partial Nephrectomy in T1b RCC.
Verhagen PCMS, Boevé ER. (2019). Eur Urol 2019;76:132-3.

Identifying cystogenic paracrine signaling molecules in cyst fluid of patients with polycystic kidney disease.
Kenter AT, van Rossum-Fikkert SE, Salih M, Verhagen PCMS, van Leenders GJLH, Demmers JAA, Jansen G, Gribnau J, Zietse R, Hoorn EJ. (2019). Am J Physiol Renal Physiol 2019;316:F204-F213.

Male fertility

Cellular origin of microRNA-371a-3p in healthy males based on systematic urogenital tract tissue evaluation.
Boellaard WPA, Gillis AJM, van Leenders GJLH, Stoop H, van Agthoven T, Dorssers LCJ, Dinkelman-Smit M, Boormans JL, Looijenga LHJ. (2019). Andrology 2019;7:463-68.
PMID: 30786164

What are the benefits and harms of testosterone therapy for male sexual dysfunction? - a systematic review.
Dimitropoulos K, Verze P, Van den Broeck T, Salonia A, Yuan CY, Hatzimouratidis K, Dohle G. Int J Impot Res. 2019.

Sperm DNA damage measured by sperm chromatin structure assay in men with a history of undescended testes.
Van Brakel J, Dinkelman-Smit M, de Muinck Keizer-Schrama SMPF, Hazebroek FWJ, Dohle GR. (2017). Andrology 2017;5:838-43.

Paediatric urology (see also Functional urological disorders)

Music Interventions in Pediatric Surgery (The Music Under Surgery In Children Study): A Randomized Clinical Trial.
Kühlmann AYR, van Rosmalen J, Staals LM, Keyzer-Dekker CMG, Dogger J, de Leeuw TG, van der Toorn F, Jeekel J, Wijnen RMH, van Dijk M. (2019). Anesth Analg 2019. [Epub ahead of print].

Perineal hypospadias repair with preservation of a coincidental vagina or perineal utricle in boys with disorders of sex development.
Wolffenbuttel KP, Holmdahl G. (2019). J Pediatr Urol 2019, pii: S1477-5131(19)30258-X.

A holistic approach in children with DSD.
Wolffenbuttel KP. (2019). J Pediatr Urol 2019;15:124-5.

Prostate cancer

Widespread and Functional RNA Circularization in Localized Prostate Cancer.
Chen S, Huang V, Xu X, Livingstone J, Soares F, Jeon J, Zeng Y, Hua JT, Petricca J, Guo H, Wang M, Yousif F, Zhang Y, Donmez N, Ahmed M, Volik S, Lapuk A, Chua MLK, Heisler LE, Foucal A, Fox NS, Fraser M, Bhandari V, Shiah YJ, Guan J, Li J, Orain M, Picard V, Hovington H, Bergeron A, Lacombe L, Fradet Y, Têtu B, Liu S, Feng F, Wu X, Shao YW, Komor MA, Sahinalp C, Collins C, Hoogstrate Y, de Jong M, Fijneman RJA, Fei T, Jenster G, van der Kwast T, Bristow RG, Boutros PC, He HH. (2019). Cell 2019;176:831-43.e22.

Movember Foundation’s Global Action Plan Prostate Cancer Active Surveillance (GAP) Consortium. Predicting Biopsy Outcomes During Active Surveillance for Prostate Cancer: External Validation of the Canary Prostate Active Surveillance Study Risk Calculators in Five Large Active Surveillance Cohorts.
Drost FH, Nieboer D, Morgan TM, Carroll PR, Roobol MJ. (2019). Eur Urol 2019;76:693-702.

Differential tissue expression of extracellular vesicle-derived proteins in prostate cancer.
Duijvesz D, Rodriguez-Blanco G, Hoogland AM, Verhoef EI, Dekker LJ, Roobol MJ, van Leenders GJLH, Luider TM, Jenster G. (2019). Prostate 2019;79:1032-42.

A bypass mechanism of abiraterone-resistant prostate cancer: Accumulating CYP17A1 substrates activate androgen receptor signaling.
Moll JM, Kumagai J, van Royen ME, Teubel WJ, van Soest RJ, French PJ, Homma Y, Jenster G, de Wit R, van Weerden WM. (2019). Prostate 2019;79:937-48.

Improved Prostate Cancer Biopsy Grading by Incorporation of Invasive Cribriform and Intraductal Carcinoma in the 2014 Grade Groups.
Van Leenders GJLH, Kweldam CF, Hollemans E, Kümmerlin IP, Nieboer D, Verhoef EI, Remmers S, Incrocci L, Bangma CH, van der Kwast TH, Roobol MJ. (2019). Eur Urol 2019, pii: S0302-2838(19)30612-8.

Movember GAP1 PDX project: An international collection of serially transplantable prostate cancer patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models.
Navone NM, van Weerden WM, Vessella RL, Williams ED, Wang Y, Isaacs JT, Nguyen HM, Culig Z, van der Pluijm G, Rentsch CA, Marques RB, de Ridder CMA, Bubendorf L, Thalmann GN, Brennen WN, Santer FR, Moser PL, Shepherd P, Efstathiou E, Xue H, Lin D, Buijs J, Bosse T, Collins A, Maitland N, Buzza M, Kouspou M, Achtman A, Taylor RA, Risbridger G, Corey E. (2018). Prostate. 2018 Dec;78(16):1262-1282.

Urothelial cancer

Long non-coding RNAs identify a subset of luminal muscle-invasive bladder cancer patients with favorable prognosis.
De Jong JJ, Liu Y, Robertson AG, Seiler R, Groeneveld CS, van der Heijden MS, Wright JL, Douglas J, Dall'Era M, Crabb SJ, van Rhijn BWG, van Kessel KEM, Davicioni E, Castro MAA, Lotan Y, Zwarthoff EC, Black PC, Boormans JL, Gibb EA. 

Ex vivo assays to predict enhanced chemosensitization by hyperthermia in urothelial cancer of the bladder.
Van den Tempel N, Naipal KAT, Raams A, van Gent DC, Franckena M, Boormans JL, Kanaar R. (2018). PloS One 2018;13:e0209101. 

Systematic Review: Characteristics and Preclinical Uses of Bladder Cancer Cell Lines.
Zuiverloon TCM, de Jong FC, Costello JC, Theodorescu D. (2018). Bladder Cancer 2018;4:169-83.

Facilities

Our research is mainly driven by patients, patient-derived biospecimens and data, epidemiological data, preclinical models, genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics. We have two independent research laboratories, namely the Experimental Oncology lab and the Functional Urology lab. We are one of the founders and the host department for the Daniel den Hoed Foundation-funded Erasmus MC Cancer Computational Biology Center (CCBC) directed by Dr. Harmen van de Werken. CCBC facilitates ICT and bioinformatics for research and is actively involved in the Erasmus MC Screenings Facility (CTSF), the Cancer Genome Editing Center (CGEC), the Electron Microscopy Facility (TEM) and the Tumor Microenvironment Facility Center. We actively participate in the Erasmus MC Core Facilities Applied Molecular Imaging, Centre or Animal Research, Optical Imaging Centre, Genomics and Proteomics.

Research funding support is provided by Dr. Ellen Schenk.

Collaborations

You can find further information about our collaborations in our Research Introduction and on our Research Group pages:

  • Functional urology research group
  • Male fertility research group
  • Prostate cancer: care innovation - Bangma research group
  • Prostate cancer: mechanisms and biomarkers - Jenster research group
  • Prostate cancer: epitranscriptomics - Martens-Uzunova research group
  • Prostate cancer: predictive modelling - Roobol research group
  • Prostate cancer: mechanisms and therapies - van Weerden research group
  • Prostate cancer: computational biology - van de Werken research group
  • Urothelial cancer research group

News, events and awards

Our news

Erasmus MC Efficiency grant awarded to Dr. Bertil Blok for clinical study on re-usable catheters, October 21, 2019.

Horizon 2020 Marie Sklodowska Curie Action - European Training Network proEVLifeCycle on exosomes in prostate cancer coordinated by Prof. dr. Guido Jenster has started, with the Department hosting one PhD student, October 1, 2019.

Horizon 2020 Marie Sklodowska Curie Action - European Training Network CLARIFY on cloud artificial intelligence for pathology has started with Dr. Tahlita Zuiverloon as beneficiary and with the Department hosting one PhD student, October 1, 2019.

Awards and grants

Awards

Functional urological disorders

  • Best clinical research prize Paediatric Urology for ‘Long-term FU of outlet procedures in neurogenic bladder’ at International Continence Society 48th meeting, Philadelphia (2018).
  • Best clinical research prize Overactive Bladder for ‘6 months FU of a novel rechargeable sacral neuromodulator’ at International Continence Society 47th meeting, Florence (2017).

Male fertility

  • First prize Urological Challenge, European Urology Forum Davos (2017).
  • Dutch Association of Urology Moonen Prize for the best urological research by a clinical resident in training (2016).

Prostate cancer

  • Platinum Award of European Urology for continuing dedication and contribution to the field of Urology (Prof. Monique Roobol, 2018).
  • Dutch Association of Urology prizes:
    3x Moonen Prize for the best urological research by a clinical resident in training (2017, 2015, 2013).
    Ipsen Oncological Urology Prize for the best project to innovate patient care (2016).
    Van Stockum Prize for the best urological PhD thesis (2015).
  • BJU International social media award for best urological App (2015).
  • 2nd price Poster award at International cancer Screening Network Meeting (2015).
  • Best paper published on Clinical Endocrinology, S. Stelloo and E. Nevedomskaya et al., EMBO Mol Med, NVE award (2015).
  • Best Paper in fundamental urological research by the European Association of Urology (2013).

Urothelial cancer

  • European Association of Urology Research Foundation Seeding Grant for young investigators;
    Discovery and functional evaluation of actionable targets for novel treatments in high-risk non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (2018).
  • European Association of Urology ‘Best Paper on Fundamental Research Award published in the Urological Literature’ (2014).

Personal research grants

Erasmus MC Efficiency grant for a clinical study on re-usable catheters (Dr. Bertil Blok, 2019-2022).

  • Erasmus University Rotterdam Fellowship CARIBEAn – a Cancer Ribosomes Epitranscriptomic Atlas for the mapping and functional analysis of tissue- and cancer-associated differences in ribosome 2’-O-methylation (Dr. Elena Martens, 2018-2021).
  • Erasmus MC Fellowship for bladder and upper urinary tract cancer research (Dr. Tahlita Zuiverloon, 2016).
  • Stichting DUOS grant for bladder and upper urinary tract cancer research (Dr. Joost Boormans, 2016).
  • Abe Bonnema Stichting prostate cancer research grant (Prof. Monique Roobol, 2015).
  • Daniel den Hoed Foundation award for Co-targeting approaches to improve efficacy of PI3K therapies in prostate cancer (Dr. Rute Marques, 2014-2017).
  • NWO-VENI When small RNAs become even smaller: biogenesis and functional relevance of snoRNA-derived RNAs (Dr. Elena Martens, 2013-2016).
  • Erasmus MC Efficiency grant for Substitution of manual analytical methods for semen analysis by semi-automated methods: a cost minimization analysis (Dr. Gert Dohle, 2008-2013).

Education

BSc & MSc students

We participate in the Erasmus MC Research Master's programs in Molecular Medicine and Clinical Sciences, and the Bachelor's and Master’s program in Clinical Technology and Nanobiology together with TU Delft and LUMC. For the Bachelor phase Clinical Technology, we contribute to the educational block ‘Genitourinary disease and Statistics’ together with the departments of Urology, Gynaecology, Medical Statistics, and Anatomy of LUMC and Erasmus MC by providing an integrated overview of technological approaches for urological treatments, as well as applied statistics and epidemiology related to screening. In the Master curriculum Nanobiology, we teach students on molecular approaches for urological cancers.

In the Erasmus MC Medical Curriculum we contribute to four educational themes during the Bachelor phase. We offer the minor ‘Pelvic Floor’ during the 2nd year Bachelor phase, and participate in Minors of other departments. Staff members contribute to the educational blocks Surgery, and Internal Medicine during the Master phase, and offer a junior resident position throughout the whole year integrated in the Surgical curriculum. We have positions for 3 months research or clinical residencies for approximately four students annually.

PhD students

We provide research training to PhD students through our participation in the Erasmus MC Postgraduate School Molecular Medicine and European Training Networks funded by the European Commission Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions programme, including the ongoing TRANSPOT, proEVLifeCycle and CLARIFY networks.