I am a consultant neonatologist and associate professor in perinatal public health. My ambition is to help realize a healthy start to life for current and future generations.
As a neonatologist, I am bound to provide optimal care to very sick newborns, and support their parents. As a researcher, I seek opportunities to address some of the key challenges I encounter in clinical practice, focusing on potentially preventable events.
Our research aims to bridge the range of tiers in preventive and medical care. We develop and sustain multi-disciplinary collaborations, and apply innovative methodologies. Our work has contributed much to the evidence base for the effectiveness of tobacco control policies to promote child health. On the basis of this work, I was invited to advise the Dutch government and WHO on issues related to tobacco control. Besides projects in this field, I am the principal investigator of several collaborative projects focusing on: (1) early recognition and prevention of severe neonatal jaundice; (2) exploring and addressing the social determinants of perinatal health; and (3) assessing the early-life health impact of public health policies.
Field(s) of expertise
- Public health.
- Tobacco control.
- Neonatal jaundice.
- Health inequalities.
- Global health.
- Policy evaluation.
Education and career
I obtained my MD (2002; with distinction), PhD in neonatal pulmonology (2010), and MPH in Epidemiology (2011; cum laude) from Maastricht University.
My clinical training in paediatrics was at Maastricht UMC (2007-2012) and The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (2012-3). Following a post-doc position at the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Population Health Sciences (now Usher Institute; 2013), I completed a fellowship in neonatology at the Erasmus MC Sophia Children's Hospital in Rotterdam (2014-7).In 2015, I was a visiting scholar at the Stanford Prevention Research Center for three months.
My research career was supported by several competitively funded fellowships, and our work has been published in top-tier journals. My scientific work received several awards, including the Young Investigator Award from the Netherlands Association of Paediatrics, and the Bengt Robertson Award from the European Society for Pediatric Research.
In my teaching I continuously seek opportunities to challenge students with new perspectives. Why would a hospital specialist be interested in public health? How to apply innovative research methods to answer questions that might seem unanswerable? How can research findings be effectively translated into practice and policy? How can you maximie value from collaborations between seemingly unrelated research areas? These and related issues I discuss in regular lectures in the Erasmus University ‘Global Health’, ‘Public Health’ and ‘Mystery of Creation’ minor programmes and in the MSc of Medicine programme ‘Social Medicine’ at Erasmus MC.
I am a regular guest lecturer at the University of Groningen’s Summer School ‘Non-communicable diseases and the law’. To promote the embedding of societal responsibility and involvement in medical training, I have supervised several community engagement projects for medical students. During clinical care, I routinely contribute to the training of house officers, paediatric residents, neonatal fellows, nurse practitioners, and I take part in interactive training sessions for medical, nursing and midwifery students. I am joint supervisor of the journal club / methodology teaching sessions for junior doctors at the neonatal unit.
During my training in paediatrics at Maastricht UMC, I was shortlisted by medical interns for the annual ‘Clinician of the year’ award for teaching excellence. I have supervised one completed PhD thesis and am currently supervising another nine. I have also supervised more than 15 student theses for the BSc and MSc programmes in Medicine and Public Health at both Maastricht University and Erasmus MC, several of which have resulted in scientific publications and/or received recognition of excellence. I am furthermore involved in regular long-term mentoring of several paediatric residents and PhDs/post-docs.
- Associate Editor, npj Prim Care Respir Med.
- Honorary Research Fellow, Usher Institute, The University of Edinburgh.
- Board member, European Society for Paediatric Research, Epidemiology section.
- Taskforce Smokefree Start (co-founder, member).
- Taskforce Smokefree Erasmus MC (co-founder, chair).
Scholarships, grants, and awards
Current grants as PI
- Erasmus Trustfonds: ‘Assessing the impact of the world’s largest urban Low Emission Zone on adverse birth outcomes’.
- ZonMw: 'A parallel evaluation of three novel screening methods for hyperbilirubinemia in newborns cared for at home'.
- Longfonds/Hartstichting/KWF/Trombosestichting/Diabetes Fonds: ‘Novel smoke-free policies to protect children as part of a tobacco endgame: assessing international and local experiences to generate transferable lessons for the Netherlands’.
- Erasmus University (Smarter Choices for Better Health programme): ‘Innovative approaches to assessing causality in health inequity in early life and the effectiveness of implemented interventions’.
- Erasmus University (Smarter Choices for Better Health programme):‘Individualising incentive-based strategies to support smoking cessation among employees: a randomised experiment’.
- ZonMw/Erasmus MC: ‘Non-invasive diagnosis and treatment of neonatal jaundice in primary care’.
- FNO: 'Community- and individual-level incentives for reducing risk behaviour before and during pregnancy'.
- Erasmus MC Fellowship (2014).
- Longfonds Junior Investigator Grant (2014).
- KNAW Ter Meulen Fonds grant (2014).
- European Respiratory Society short term fellowship (2013).
- Longfonds long term fellowship (2012).
- Thrasher Research Fund early career award (2012).
- International Pediatric Research Foundation young investigator exchange programme (2011).
- Maastricht University Kootstra fellowship (2010).
Paediatric Association of the Netherlands Young Investigator Award (2015).
Best presentation at Dutch Neonatal Fellow meeting (2015).
European Society for Paediatric Research Bengt Robertson Award (2010).
Maastricht UMC Pélerin Award (2009).