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J. (Jorke) Willemse, PhD

Post doctoral researcher, organ perfusionist and transplant coordinator

  • Department
  • Surgery
  • Focus area
  • Machine perfusion, Organoid models



My name is Jorke Willemse and I am currently employed as a post-doctoral researcher, organ perfusionist and transplant coordinator. 

I started my academic career at the University of Twente, where I studied biomedical engineering  from 2011- 2016. In 2015 I performed 4-month internship at the LETIS group on creating a hydrogel from decellularized liver extracellular matrix. In 2016 I started as a PhD student in the same group with the aim to create functional liver tissue through decellularization and subsequent recellularization with cholangiocyte organoids. In 2022 I have succesfully defended my PhD thesis.

My current research focusses on creating functional liver tissue in the lab, where I mainly focus on creating functional bile duct tissue. This can either serve as a miniaturized model, capable of replacing inadequate animal models, or which in the future can be transplanted to reduce transplant wait list mortality.

Besides my research activities, I also work as an organ perfusionist and transplant coordinator. This job revolves around coordinating liver transplants and testing livers outside of the body on the pump to see whether they can be safely transplanted. The field of organ perfusion is relatively new and is evolving quickly. The combination between the three functions allow me to perform translational research focussed on improving the field of liver transplantation. 

Focus area : Biomaterials, organ perfusion, decellularization, recellularization, complex three-dimensional cell cultures, organoids, stem cells, histology, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, liver, microfluidics, personalized medicine, cholangiocyte organoids

Fields of expertise : My research focus areas is on the decellularization and recellularization of the liver, development of in vitro bile duct models and on organ perfusion


Education and career

Postdoctoral researcher, department of Surgery, Erasmus MC Transplant Institute, 2019 – current. Continuation of my PhD project with a focus on recellularization of liver extracellular matrix, organoid culture and development of hepatobiliary tissue models. 

Organ perfusionist and transplant coordinator (OPTC), department of Surgery, Erasmus MC Transplant Institute, 2022 – current. Field of expertise: Machine perfusion of donor livers with cold perfusion ((dual) hypothermic oxygenated perfusion, (D)HOPE), warm (normothermic machine perfusion, NMP) or a combination ((D)HOPE-CORNMP) on XVIVO Liver Assist or Organox Metra. As a transplant coordinator it is my responsibility to coordinate organ offers between Eurotransplant and the Erasmus MC transplant instute.

PhD candidate, department of Surgery, Erasmus MC Transplant Institute, 2016 – 2019. Thesis entitled: matrix reloaded: creating liver tissue using matrix and organoids. A project on the decellularization and recellularization of liver tissue. PhD defense took place on 16th of March 2022.

MSc Biomedical Engineering, University of Twente, 2014 - 2016. Specialization: biotechnology, nanofabrication and soft tissue engineering. Thesis entitled: The development of pre-vascularized hydrogel constructs with randomly distributed small diameter blood vessels using microfluidics

BSc Biomedical Engineering, University of Twente, 2011 – 2014. Thesis entitled: The influence of extracellular matrix proteins in biocompatible hydrogels on the behavior of mesenchymal stem cells


Hydrogels derived from decellularized liver tissue support the growth and differentiation of cholangiocyte organoids. Willemse J, van Tienderen G, van Hengel E, Schurink I, van der Ven D, Kan Y, de Ruiter P, Rosmark O, Westergren-Thorsson G G, Schneeberger K, van der Eerden B, Roest H, Spee B, van der Laan L, de Jonge J, Verstegen M. Biomaterials. 2022 May;284:121473.
Fast, robust and effective decellularization of whole human livers using mild detergents and pressure controlled perfusion. Willemse J, Verstegen MMA, Vermeulen A, Schurink IJ, Roest HP, van der Laan LJW, 

de JongeJ. Mater Sci Eng C Mater Biol Appl. 2020 Mar;108:110200.


From organoids to organs: Bioengineering liver grafts from hepatic stem cells and matrix. Willemse, J., Lieshout, R., van der Laan, L. & Verstegen, M., 2017, In: Best Practice & Research in Clinical Gastroenterology. 31, 2, p. 151-159 9 p.



Teaching activities

Supervision of 12 students

Scholarships, grants, and awards

ILTS Rising Star Award was awarded during the ILTS International Congress on Liver Transplantation, held from 23 till 26 May 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal, for the abstract entitled: Towards graft engineering using decellularized porcine liver scaffolds and recellularization with human liver organoids

ILTS young investigator award was awarded during the ILTS International Congress on Liver Transplantation, held from 15 till 18 May 2019 in Toronto, Canada, for the abstract entitled: Design by nature: Creating a clinical grade hydrogel from liver extracellular matrix to improve culture expansion and differentiation of human liver organoids

Maurits en Anna de Kock stichting grant

My Groups