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Profile picture of Ton van der Steen
Principal Investigator

Prof. dr. ir A.F.W. (Ton) van der Steen, PhD

Head of Biomedical Engineering

  • Department
  • Cardiology




Van der Steen has a career at the crossroad of technology, medicine and corporate life. Being an engineer himself, he works with engineers, fundamental scientists, biologists, medical doctors to improve diagnosis, therapy and therapy guidance, mainly in Cardiovascular medicine. The contribution of his lab is mainly in cardiovascular imaging, predominantly based on ultrasound and optics. He has grown an engineering research group in the middle of a medical centre. His PhD students develop their methods in close contact with the end users: The medical specialists of the Erasmus MC

Research policy

He takes a great interest in science policy, science funding policy and science strategy development. He is currently board member of the Royal Academy of Art and Science (KNAW) and has made significant contributions to the policy of NWO, and the domain Applied and Engineering Sciences. He was also involved in creating the topsector policy, in particular for the topsectors High Tech Systems and Materials and Life Science and Health. Policy wise his main goal is to create technical solutions for sustainable health. He does so in the frameworks of the Innovative Medical Device Initiative, Medical Delta, Convergence TU Delft-ErasmusMC, Koers 2023 ErasmusMC.

Field(s) of expertise

  • Biomedical Imaging
  • Ultrasound
  • Optics
  • Biomechanics

Education and career

Van der Steen has a Master in Applied Physics (1989) and PhD in Medical Sciences (1994) from the Radboud University Medical Centre in Nijmegen. His master thesis was on ultrasonic myocardial tissue characterization. The practical work was performed at the medical faculty of the Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Thorax centre. For his PhD thesis he build an acoustic microscope to characterize eye tumours. In 1994 he returned to Rotterdam to join Biomedical engineering at the Thorax centre Erasmus MC. In 1997 he became head of the experimental echocardiography group and in 2002 head of Biomedical Engineering. His research interests include Catheter based imaging, High frame rate ultrasound, Cardiovascular Biomechanics and Ultrasound contrast agents.


Teaching activities


  • 1999 Visiting scientist to University of Toronto
  • 2002 KNAW/ICIN professor
  • 2002 Professor in biomedical engineering at the Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • 2005 Visiting professor to Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan
  • 2013 Medical Delta Professor
  • 2013 Professor in Applied physics TU Delft
  • 2014 Honorary visiting professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technologies

PhD theses

Van der Steen has supervised 60 PhD theses and has 20 planned. Most are in Biomedical Engineering related to Cardiology. PhD students had their masters in Applied physics, Electrotechnical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Mathematics, Cell biology, Molecular biology, Technical medicine, Medicine, Health sciences etc.


A large part of the attention of van der Steen is spent on organising conferences. World conferences include the IEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium (1500 delegates, scientific committee since 1998, technical chair in 2004 (Montreal) and 2016 (Tours), general chair in 2005 (Rotterdam) and the World Conference on Ultrasound Biomedical Microscanning (70 delegates, co-founder, co-chair in 2002 (Capelle), 2016 (Bonaire), 2020 (Shenzhen).

4 (bi)annual conference have been initiated from his department:

Next to that he organized general symposia like: Een warm hart (40 years ICIN, 2012) Hart van goud (50 years Thorax centre, 2018) Medical Delta inauguration symposium (2014) and he was chairman of Innovations for Health (2016-2018-2020),

Other positions

  • 2020 Board member of the Royal academy of art and Sciences (KNAW)
  • 2020 Chairman of the domain Natural and Technical Sciences of the KNAW
  • 2020 Co-founder and strategist Kaminari Medical
  • 2017-2020 Quartermaster/chairman of the Medical Delta
  • 2015-2016 Member of the steering committee to create the new Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
  • 2014-2017 Chairman of the Dutch Technology Foundation STW and of NWO technical Sciences.
  • 2012-now: Co-founder and board member, the Netherlands Society for Medical Ultrasound
  • 2005-2015: Co-founder and board member Medical Delta, a virtual institute between TUDelft, Leiden University, LUMC, ErasmusMC and Erasmus University Rotterdam

Scholarships, grants, and awards

Van der Steen is the 2000 NWO PIONIER technical sciences and the 2007 Simon Stevin Master. He is a fellow of the IEEE and of the European Society of Cardiology. He has been a visiting professor to Tohoku University Sendai and currently Honorary visiting professor to the Chinese Academy of Sciences at Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technologies. He is member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences and the Netherlands Academy of Technology and Innovation. During 2011/2012 he was IEEE distinguished lecturer. He and his department have sustained external funding over the last 25 years. Larger funds include the CTMM program ParisK, two perspective programmes (iMIT and UltraXtreme) 2 ERC grants and 3 VENI’s, 3 VIDI’s and a VICI.


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