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After my academic training at the Universities of Tübingen and Freiburg (Physiological Chemistry, Biochemistry), I started my research career at the University of Stuttgart-Hohenheim and the Fraunhofer Institute Stuttgart, primarily investigating inflammation cascades and immunity (PhD; summa cum laude). In the last 20 years, I became interested in whole body physiology and extended my expertise to the fields of nutrition, metabolism and pharmacology. Over the years, I gained insight into the underlying mechanisms of a broad spectrum of metabolic and inflammatory diseases, including cardiovascular disease, NAFLD/NASH, and neurodegenerative disorders. My work at TNO focusses on the interface of metabolism & inflammation and has resulted in several patents, >130 publications (with >12,500 citations; H-factor: 59), and new technologies for biomedical research such as translational experimental models that reflect human pathophysiology and sophisticated analytical tools for biomarker profiling. In my research, I combine human and preclinical studies to study the effect of external factors (e.g. nutrition, exercise, stress) on our metabolism and how disturbance of the latter causes inflammation. This “metabolic inflammation” drives a plethora of diseases such as obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis, frailty and dementia. In my work at TNO, I develop strategies to re-gain metabolic control to reduce chronic inflammation and treat these diseases using combinations of lifestyle, nutritional and pharmaceutical strategies. The required interdisciplinary mindset is also necessary for my ongoing work at the Leiden University Medical Center (Associate Professor at the Department of Vascular Surgery), the Wageningen University (Dept. Human and Animal Physiology) and the Radboud UMC (Dept. Translational Neuroanatomy).
As a Principal Scientist, I am responsible for the establishment of large international consortia, often including multiple scientific disciplines and a broad spectrum of academic and private partners. Our main industrial partners are typically pharmaceutical companies, nutrition companies and medium-size enterprises with sophisticated diagnostic tools. Examples of recently established private public partnerships (PPS) and larger research programs (ERP; H2020) are:
My collaborations with academic partners and several University Medical Centers in the Netherlands (e.g. WUR, MUmc, AmsterdamUMC, Radboud UMC) also involve the supervision of PhD students that conduct their research at TNO. At the moment three PhD students work at TNO-MHR/Leiden:
and the contribution to 5 other PhDs PhD trajectories at WUR, AMC-VUmc, Radboudmc and MUmc.Supervisor of TNO PhDs: