I studied Biology in Utrecht and received my PhD in 2002 at Leiden University. Since then I am working at the laboratory for calcium and bone metabolism, initially as a postdoc working on the role of epithelial calcium channels and now as a group leader. The overall aim of the calcium and bone research group is to develop better diagnostics and therapies for skeletal disorders and disturbances in calcium/phosphate homeostasis.
Current research interests
- Bone anabolic approaches and regeneration.
I aim to identify novel pathways, small molecules and genetic modifications in human bone cell models and animals to improve bone formation. In addition, I am studying cell-cell interaction in physiologically relevant microfluidic Organ-on-Chips (OoC) to mimic the process of fracture healing.
- Calcium and phosphate homeostasis I am interested in the mechanisms underlying disturbed calcium and phosphate homeostasis and the consequences of this and excessive phosphate intake in the population for the skeleton. I will study homeostasis at the molecular and cellular level but also in patients with chronic disturbances in mineral metabolism and in population studies.
Field(s) of expertise
- Skeletal disorders
- Calcium homeostasis
- Phosphate homeostasis
- Osteoblast biology
- Osteoclast biology
- Osteocyte biology
- Calcium channels
- Bone marrow adiposity
- Microcomputed tomography
- Bone phenotyping
Education and career
During my PhD at the department of Pediatrics at the Leiden University medical Center I worked on the hormonal regulation of growth plate cartilage. During my postdoc in the laboratory for calcium and bone metabolism led by Hans van Leeuwen, I focused on the role of calcium channels (TRPVs) in calcium homeostasis and bone metabolism. In 2005, I received a NWO VENI grant to pursue this work until 2010. In the following years the focus shifted more to human cell models to identify novel genes, pathways and compounds that promote bone formation, as this is becoming the first choice of treatment for skeletal disorders, especially osteoporosis. In the more recent years, I additionally became interested in rare diseases to study the functional consequences of mutations in genes leading to skeletal disorders. In 2015, I became group leader of the calcium and bone metabolism group.
My teaching activities are predominantly confined to Erasmus MC. I am coordinator of the 2nd year bachelor ‘keuze-onderwijs’, theme 11 ‘Balans-disbalans’. Besides, I am a supervisor for the Keuze beroepspraktijk (KBP). I provide lectures for specific courses within the research school Molecular Medicine and I supervise review writing of 2nd year master students. I teach bone physiology and bone biomechanics for 2nd year bachelor students of the ‘Klinische Technology’ program. Outside Erasmus MC, I teach Bone regeneration for master students of TU Delft. I have supervised many bachelor and master students as well as PhD students, both as co-promotor but also as group leader.
- Scientific Program committee member European Calcified Tissues Society (ECTS) meeting 2020
- Co-chair of ECTS E-learning action group
- Executive Board member (Treasurer) and working group coordinator of the International Bone Marrow Adipose Society (BMAS)
- Scientific Advisory Board member of the Dutch Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva society
- Editorial board member for Biomolecules
- Editorial Board Member Frontiers in Bone Biology
- Biosafety officer, Internal Medicine, section Endocrinology
Scholarships, grants, and awards
Grants obtained as PI:
- 2018–2022; Health~Holland, foundation Life Sciences Health-TKI, €929,000
Title: Too much or too little phosphorus and its consequences for health(y aging.
- 2018-2022; Grant Kyowa Kirin Pharma BV, €100,000
Title: Establisment of a registry of patients with hypophosphatemic rickets.
- 2017-2021; PhD student grant, Chinese Scholarship Council; ±€80,000
Title: Microfluidic approach to study complex interactions during human fracture healing.
- 2017; Early stage Researcher grant (€2,500) by European Society for Pediatric Endocrinology for Sudanese clinical fellow Asmahan Abdallah to visit Erasmus MC for 3 months.
- 2016–2019; Horizon2020 MCSA-RISE-2015 #690850, €607,500; ±€90,000 allocated for Erasmus MC
Title: RUBICON: Training Network for Research on Molecular and Biomechanical Interactions in Connective Tissue Disorders.
- 2016; Educational grant by Kyowa Kirin Pharma BV, € 4,880
Title: Genetic screening of patients with hypophosphatemic rickets.
- 2016; Jacoba Breen grant , Erasmus Vriendenfonds, €42.350
Acquirement of Optics 11 Piuma nanoindentation device.
- 2010–2012; Netherlands Genomics Initiative, Horizon Breakthrough project, €100,000
Title: Blood-based microRNAs as novel biomarkers for the detection and severity of osteoporosis.
- 2005–2008; ZonMW-VENI (916.56.021), 3-year fellowship, €200,000
Title: The role of the novel calcium channels TRPV5 and TRPV6 in bone metabolism.
- 2019: Fight Frailty with Follistatin; Co-inventor; application pending
- 2019: Identification of biomarkers of Zika virus. Co-inventor.
- 2017: Methods for controlling mineralization of extracellular matrix, therapeutic methods based thereon and medicaments for use therein. Co-inventor.