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Principal Investigator

M. (Melek) Rousian, PhD

Obstetrics and Gynaecology

  • Department
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology



The focus of my scientific career is on embryonic health and the consequences of external influences on prenatal and postnatal human development. In 2008, I was selected to participate in a MSc/MD trajectory, which is a collaboration with Harvard University, Boston, USA (MSc part partially followed at the university in Boston). This program enabled me to become a well-trained clinician and researcher. Within an additional 1.5 year, I received my PhD degree and continued medical school training. My PhD research –embryonic development and growth visualization using 3D ultrasound and VR– is an upcoming research topic. During the course of the PhD research I was awarded three international prizes. Gradually the research –which started as a small-scale project– has expanded to a large cohort study. In this next phase I participated as a part-time researcher. 

Until now my research career, starting already early at medical school, has resulted in 22 refereed international articles, more than 25 podium presentations at international congresses, and three grants.

As a researcher and clinician, but also an epidemiologist, I have great interest in developing new ultrasound measures using three-dimensional ultrasound and virtual reality.

Field(s) of expertise

I run the following three research lines:

  • Firstly, modelling the effects of lifestyle and diet on embryonic and placental growth and development.
  • Secondly, a new study line, in which 3D ultrasound and VR is integrated in clinical care in a large randomized controlled trial.
  • Finally, I am interested in the development of 3D ultrasound and VR techniques, by providing and constructing a 3D atlas of the human embryonic brain.

Education and career

  • 2009: MSc student, Clinical Epidemiology, Erasmus MC University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands and Harvard University, Boston, United States.
  • 2009 - 2011: PhD student, Department of Obstetrics/Gynecology, Erasmus MC University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
  • 2012: MD student, Medicine, Erasmus MC University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
  • 2014 - present: Resident, Department of Obstetrics/Gynecology, Erasmus MC University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
  • 2015 - present: Post Doc, Department of Obstetrics/Gynecology, Erasmus MC University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.


Virtual reality imaging techniques in the study of embryonic and early placental health.
Rousian M, Koster MPH, Mulders AGMGJ, Koning AHJ, Steegers-Theunissen RPM, Steegers EAP. (2018). Placenta. 2018 Apr;64 Suppl 1:S29-S35. 

Early first trimester maternal 'high fish and olive oil and low meat' dietary pattern is associated with accelerated human embryonic development.
Parisi F, Rousian M1, Steegers-Theunissen RPM, Koning AHJ, Willemsen SP, de Vries JHM, Cetin I, Steegers EAP. (2018). Eur J Clin Nutr. 2018 Dec;72(12):1655-1662.

First trimester brain ventricle fluid and embryonic volumes measured by three-dimensional ultrasound with the use of I-Space virtual reality.
Rousian M, Hop WC, Koning AH, van der Spek PJ, Exalto N, Steegers EA. (2013). Hum Reprod. 2013 May;28(5):1181-9.

Virtual reality for embryonic measurements requiring depth perception.
Rousian M, Koning AH, van der Spek PJ, Steegers EA, Exalto N. (2011). Fertil Steril. 2011 Feb;95(2):773-4.

An innovative virtual reality technique for automated human embryonic volume measurements.
Rousian M1, Koning AH, van Oppenraaij RH, Hop WC, Verwoerd-Dikkeboom CM, van der Spek PJ, Exalto N, Steegers EA. (2010). Hum Reprod. 2010 Sep;25(9):2210-6.

A complete overview of publications can be found here

Melek Rousian

Teaching activities

From 2010 onwards I am involved in  teaching activities (courses/workshops) focusing on embryonic health and visualization techniques using 3D ultrasound and virtual reality within the curriculum of the medical school (Erasmus MC, University Medical Center) and NIHES (Netherlands Institute for Health Sciences). This also includes personal guidance of national and international visitors (industry, policy makers, departmental heads). As a last part in teaching with regards to my research topic, occurs by supervising and encouraging individual medical students and PhD students.

Teaching activities are also carried out with regards to my residentship in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. The topics include lectures about up to date topics in our field.

I have two more important teaching tasks. First, I am selected as a national board member of the ‘Voortgangstoets commissie’. This means that I am one of the developers of the annual exam for residents in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Second, I am in the board of the ‘Cursorisch onderwijs commissie’ in Rotterdam and Leiden.

Scholarships, grants, and awards


  • 2018 - now
    MRACE Erasmus MC Grants.
    Modelling the impact of maternal obesity on longitudinal prenatal human brain development using a 4D spatiotemporal ultrasound atlas.
  • 2016 - now
    MRACE Efficacy Research.
    The additional value of first trimester virtual reality visualization in obstetric care: a randomized controlled trial.
  • 2019 - now
    Sophia Foundation.
    Prenatal maternal alcohol consumption and the impact on fetal and neonatal neurodevelopment.