June 2021, 20th edition


Despite the fact that COVID-19 has affected all aspects of our work at the UMC Utrecht Brain Center in a very impactful way, this new bulletin is full of recent successes and impressive stories. It displays the depth and breadth of our work, both with respect to clinical topics and research approaches, e.g. all the way from human cochlear organoids and other new human models to novel treatments for 22q11DS patients and recovery after stroke. All these topics underscore the alignment of the experimental approaches and clinical focus that we have chosen with the Connecting Worlds strategy of the UMC Utrecht.

We have a new professor of Acute Neurology, Bart van der Worp, to celebrate as well as three new associate professors, of whom Irene van der Schaaf and Kevin Kenna have recently given their inaugural speeches. And don’t forget to read the update on the Research Support Office and the brief intro of our new grant advisor, Rita Santos, as this will help you in future grant applications.

With more of us being vaccinated and numbers of COVID-19 infected people dropping I hope that we soon have the chance to meet in person again.

Have a nice summer!
Jeroen Pasterkamp

In this issue

A novel approach to treat hearing loss: regeneration of lost sensory cells out of cochlear progenitor cells

Hearing loss affects almost 500 million people worldwide. It is in particular caused by irreversible damage to sensory hair cells in the inner ear (cochlea) as a result of aging, trauma, noise exposure, ototoxic drugs, autoimmune or genetic diseases. Research by Natalia Smith-Cortinez (PhD /Postdoctoral researcher) and Louise Straatman (KNO-arts/ projectleader) focuses on the development of a treatment for hearing loss and deafness by regeneration of the sensory hair cells. They have studied the effects of deafening on the progenitor cells of the mouse cochlea and found survival of these cells after deafening. For translational purposes they also need to test efficacy and safety of the treatment on human cochlear cells. Therefore they aim to develop a platform to assess growth and differentiation capacity of human adult inner ear progenitor cells in vitro. Recently a protocol to culture adult-mouse-derived cochlear progenitor cells in 3D as cochlear organoids was developed and they are planning on culturing adult-human-derived cochlear organoids in the near future as well.

Working with human cochlear organoids is a great tool for developing therapeutic options for treating hearing loss.”

Regeneration of hair cells from endogenous cochlear progenitors

While hearing aids and cochlear implants result in recovery of hearing in hearing-impaired patients, a major problem is limited sound quality. Regeneration of hair cells from endogenous cochlear progenitors could be a novel approach to improve hearing without the need of an electronic device. We have recently showed (manuscript under revision) that a subgroup of progenitor cells in the adult cochlea, that express the leucine-rich repeat-containing G-protein coupled receptor 5 (LGR5), survive ototoxic damage in severely deafened adult mice. These progenitor cells could potentially be used as an endogenous source of stem cells for hair cell regeneration to treat hearing loss and deafness. Unfortunately, the actual regenerative capacity of endogenous progenitor cells in the adult human or murine cochlea has not been completely elucidated.

Wnt and Notch signaling pathways

The Wnt and Notch signaling pathways have been described to play a key role during cochlear development in mammals (mice as well as human). After Wnt activation, progenitor cells in the cochlea receive signals to start differentiation into hair cells, and in turn, the differentiated hair cells activate Notch signaling to stop the neighboring cells from becoming hair cells. This up- and down-regulation balance between Wnt and Notch allows for the complex structural conformation of the organ of Corti, characterized by hair cells and several supporting cells (with progenitor cells characteristics). There is increasing interest in using small molecules targeting the Wnt and Notch signaling pathways to modulate the regenerative capacity of progenitor cells in the cochlea. Some studies have shown that treating neonatal cochlear explants with Wnt and Notch modulators after hair cell damage increases the proliferation and differentiation capacity of progenitor cells, however little is known about the adult mammalian cochlea.

Cochlear organoids as a tool to study cochlear regeneration

Organoids are complex 3D pluripotent systems derived from stem cells from different tissues with the capacity of proliferating and differentiating in vitro. Although some previous studies have shown good potential of cochlear organoids to regenerate and differentiate to hair cells, only a few reports have shown this for adult-derived cochlear organoids. As the majority of hearing-impaired or deaf patients are adults, for clinical translation, studying the presence of progenitor cells with regenerative capacity in adult tissue is the key to evaluate whether hearing can be restored by regeneration of endogenous progenitors in the cochlea of these patients. We have successfully generated cochlear organoids from adult mice cochlear tissue, which have the potential to differentiate into hair cells, allowing us to use them as a platform for testing different drugs to test and improve their regenerative capacity. A figure of the adult-mouse-derived cochlear organoids is showed in Figure 1. After the development of protocols to culture human-derived 3D cochlear organoids, we would like to study the regenerative capacity of human cochlear progenitors in adulthood. To that end, we will evaluate hair cell regeneration after manipulation of the Wnt and Notch signaling pathways by using small molecules targeting the LGR5+progenitor cells in the cochlear organoids. This research could potentially aid future therapeutic options for hearing-impaired and deaf patients.


Figure 1: LGR5+ cochlear organoids development. Images of cochlear organoids derived from an adult Lgr5GFP-transgenic mice in the day of the isolation (day0), 1-, 10-, and 20-days after isolation and organoids after differentiation which maintain LGR5 expression (in green) and are stained with phallpoidin (in red) and DAPI (in blue), unpublished data.

Other figures of organoids:

Two NWO grants for building better measurement models for brain diseases

Two researchers at the UMC Utrecht Brain Center received a NWO grant for their research into innovative measurement methods to better understand and treat braindiseases.

Building better measurement models for brain diseases

A grant, of 1.3 million euros, is for Professor of Glia Biology of Brain Diseases Elly Hol and Professor of Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology Elga de Vries of the Amsterdam UMC. Elly is going to work on providing human mini-brains with blood vessels in order to create a more relevant culture model of the human brain. A second grant of 1 million goes to Associate Professor of Radiology Natalia Petridou. In her research project Natalia focuses on mapping the blood vessel system in the brain in more detail, using imaging techniques and microscopy to better predict what exactly happens in certain brain disorders.

Jeroen Pasterkamp: “I am extremely pleased with the grants. They will allow Natalia and Elly to build better measurement models with a specific focus on blood vessels and the blood brain barrier”

Read the full article published on UMC Utrecht: Grant for research prevention of brain diseases – UMC Utrecht

Mathematical brain model helpful in epilepsy surgery

Innovative Neural Mass Models win ZonMW Pearl for Translational Research

Epilepsy surgery often helps patients stop having epileptic seizures, but not always. New research based on mathematical models offers surprising insights and shows that the brain works differently than thought. A collaboration between physicist Geertjan Huiskamp and neurologist Frans Leijten from the UMCU, and Hil Meijer and Stephan van Gils from the department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Twente resulted in a thesis by Jurgen Hebbink in 2019 on the use of Neural Mass Models in epilepsy surgery. This ongoing line of translational research has recently received a prize (a pearl) from ZonMW. A pearl is awarded to ZonMW projects that are standing out and are an inspiration for others.

On behalf of all researchers involved, Frans Leijten received the ZonMw Pearl on May 20 from ZonMw director Veronique Timmermans.

Different brain areas are interspersed with a large network of nerves, including several busy complex nodes. Frans explains that epilepsy often originates at one place in the brain. In some epilepsy patients for whom surgery is being considered, electrodes are first placed on their brains, inside the skull, followed by a week of EEG monitoring. “We measure the electrical activity, but we can also administer currents ourselves and see connections. We can chart the focus, what the network around it looks like and what the function of that area is. Based on that, we assess whether that part can be done without, after which it is surgically removed. That often works, but not always.”

Outside the box research

Together with UMC physicist Geert Jan Huiskamp and applied mathematicians Hil Meijer and Stephan van Gils from the University of Twente, Frans came up with the idea of using mathematical models that mimic the brain activity of these patients, so called Neural Mass Models (NMMs). Frans calls it real out-of-the-box research. “We first had to learn to understand each other’s language. Mathematicians are really into logic and structure, whereas I am more into practice.”

Mimicking a brain network

The goal is to mimic the unique brain network of an individual patient 1-to-1 in a mathematical model. NMMs represent around 1 cm2 of the brain cortex and are constructed with noisy (sensory) input and output of the patient. The directional connectivity map of a patient is used as a topology to link NMMs to construct a digital twin of the patients’ brain, showing electric potential fluctuations similar to the patients’ EEG recordings. The essential biological processes and behaviors of a collection of neurons are described by a set of formulas that regulate excitation and slow and fast inhibition. If the parameters are set outside the physiological range, the output may show epileptic activity. This epileptic activity will arise unpredictably, like in patients.

Frans Leyten: “Ultimately, we hope to develop an algorithm that can predict the best surgical strategy out of all possibilities to stop seizures.”

Insight into the route

Toying with such networks quickly produced surprising insights. “We sometimes saw effects that we do not yet understand clinically. For example, we sometimes saw that the epileptic activity takes place in brain area x, whereas an apparently normal brain area y stirs up the activity. If you remove brain area x in such a case, the activity may move to another part. This could explain why sometimes we see no effect when we remove the apparent epileptic focus.

Something that the models also made clear was that it is not only the epileptic foci that are important, but also the structure of the connections around them. “The models show the route by which the epileptic activity spreads. By breaking that route, it is also already possible to reduce epileptic seizures.” In current practice this sometimes happens already, but then the decision is more or less based on a guess.  And you’d rather not do such a risky operation based on a guess.” In the mathematic model we will be able to test on the computer what happens when a part of the brain or connection is removed before you actually start cutting.

The researchers will continue working on methods to improve the mathematical models and make them practically useful. In time, modified versions of these mathematical models can also be used for other diseases.

Watch the Pearl movie on YouTube (in Dutch) made by ZonMw and UMCUtrecht:

Investigating the effects of riluzole
Searching for a novel treatment for 22q11DS patients

Janneke Zinkstok, together with Claudia Vingerhoets and Therese van Amelsvoort (both Maastricht University), received the Uytengsu-Hamilton 22q11 Neuropsychiatry Research Award. This funding makes a study investigating the effects of riluzole for cognitive and psychotic symptoms in patients with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome possible.

It is crucial to find novel therapies to reduce psychotic and cognitive symptoms in these patients. This funding enables investigating the effects of riluzole, an FDA-approved compound for motor neuron disease that modulates the glutamate/GABA system. Pilot data show that riluzole may reduce psychotic symptoms by modulating the glutamate/GABA system and this study will explore effects of riluzole more systematically. If riluzole is effective in reducing cognitive and psychotic symptoms in patients with 22q11.2DS, it may also be a promising novel treatment option for patients with psychosis in the general population.

For this study, the two Dutch centers of expertise for children (UMC Utrecht) and adults (UMC Maastricht) with 22q11.2DS will closely collaborate. The study will start shortly, after ethical approval, and first results are expected by the end of 2022.

Bart van der Worp
Professor of Acute Neurology

Bart van der Worp has been appointed Professor of Acute Neurology, with a special interest in cerebrovascular diseases, at the Faculty of Medicine of Utrecht University with effect from 1 March 2021.

The consequences of a cerebral infarction or cerebral hemorrhage are often dramatic:people die or are left severely disabled. This not only has a large impact on the patients themselves, but also on their family and people around them. Bart van der Worp is conducting research into new treatments for these disorders together with investigators from the Netherlands and abroad. Although a lot of progress has been made in this area in the past 10 years, the number of effective treatment methods for a cerebral infarction or cerebral hemorrhage should really increase, according to Van der Worp.

Looking for more treatment methods
Bart van der Worp has been working on the prevention and treatment of CVA for over 25 years, initially in the laboratory and later in settings such as clinical trials. Van der Worp: “This work has certainly had its successes, but delivered just as many disappointments. Many treatments that could theoretically be of great benefit or that are very successful in the laboratory do not always work well in clinical practice.”

Treatment methods for a cerebral infarction have increased considerably in the past 10 years. The introduction of endovascular thrombectomy in daily clinical care has been particularly important. With a thrombectomy, the interventional radiologist uses a catheter to remove the clot that has blocked a blood vessel in the brain. This considerably increases the chance of a good recovery. However, this treatment is only possible in 5 to 10% of patients with a brain infarction, and about half of the patients remain significantly disabled or die within the first few months.

Better chances of recovery
Van der Worp: “There are currently only two effective treatments for an acute cerebral infarction: thrombolysis and the above-mentioned thrombectomy.” With his research, Bart hopes to contribute to extending the number of treatment methods in the coming years.

“By developing new (additional) treatments, we want to achieve that damage to brain tissue as a result of a stroke is limited, so that we can offer patients a greater chance of a good recovery.”

Funding for new research
Over the next two years, Bart van der Worp will complete three of his ongoing clinical trials. He has some plans for new trials, but does not have the money for this yet. And while the treatments he wants to investigate aren’t complicated, the increased regulation of conducting clinical trials is. “Everything has become more complex and, as a result, more expensive. So finding funding for new research will be my top priority in the coming period.”

When asked what he is most looking forward to after his appointment, Bart says: “I’m especially keen to start a new trial with which we can contribute to increasing the chance of a good recovery of patients who have had a stroke. And …. of course I’m also looking forward to some more post-COVID fun with all my research colleagues.”

Open and moving stories on coping with a brain tumor

Anne Luteijn, nursing specialist at the UMCU Brain Center contributed to a book with a collection of open, moving, and educational stories from patients with a brain tumor, their loved ones, and caregivers. The aim of this book is to inform, comfort, and inspire people as well as to break through taboos and start conversations. 

In the book “Shall we together …? “ stories are told of patients and relatives coping with a brain tumor and the end of life that often results from it. The personal stories of experts are interspersed with interviews with several healthcare providers. Among them is Anne Luteijn who works at the neuro-oncology department at UMC Utrecht. They provide information and advice and share their ideas about the work they do. Worth a read for anyone who is struggling professionally or privately with problems surrounding a brain tumor, or with the end of life in general.

The book is written in Dutch and distributed in hospices and hospitals, but can also be ordered at www.zullenwesamen.nl. For every copy sold, two books can be given away for free.

How the RSO helps researchers with funding and creating meaningful impact

Most UMC researchers are familiar with the Research Support Office (RSO), the central Funding, Grants, and Valorization Support Office of the UMC Utrecht. But did you know that the RSO can facilitate and support researchers in many more areas than only with grant applications? The office has valuable grant expertise as well as a large internal and external network with whom projects can be taken to a higher level and create meaningful impact. A brief overview of the wide range of services provided by the RSO.

Free-of-charge support for grant applications and valorization activities​

​​​​​For researchers and innovators your first point of contact is your division’s research support team and, if applicable, your strategic theme funding advisor for the basic questions. Your second point of contact are the people of the Research Support Office. They​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ provide the following free-of-charge support for grant applications and valorization activities:

  • Proposal development services
  • Grant writing support
  • Project management services
  • Innovation and Valorisation service

Handy funding support tools 

Impacter – a writing tool
In order to improve your societal impact section in your grant proposal, you can make use of a new software tool: Impacter. This writing tool helps researchers maximize the impact of their academic projects. Impacter provides instant feedback and is specifically developed for Horizon2020 proposals (now Horizon Europe), as well as proposals for Veni, Vidi and Vici grants.

Research Connect – a grant search facility
Research Connect is an online research funding opportunities database and alerting service.  In this flexible database you can search across 5000 national and international funders. The UMC Utrecht and the Utrecht University have a site-wide licence, so it is freely accessible to everyone at Utrecht. Registrate, take a look at the Instruction video and start searching the database yourself.

The Crowdhelix Network – a collaboration platform
Crowdhelix is an open platform for research organisations and companies participating in the Horizon 2020 EU funding programme. It connects leading research institutions to innovating businesses around the world, so that together they can target Horizon Europe funding to deliver pioneering projects.

The EU Funding Academy Team, all Horizon Europe information in one location!

In order to provide you with a one stop shop for all your Horizon Europe needs, the RSO has launched the EU Funding Academy Team. This open team environment is accessible for everybody with an UMCU email address. You can join by clicking on the Teams tab in your personal Team environment. Click the ‘join a team – button’ and use code 416mm67 to become a member. Planning to prepare a HEU proposal? Contact Rita Santos, A.R.MachadodosSantos@umcutrecht.nl , for support.

Personalized funding opportunities

To raise the awareness and interest for the new Horizon Europe funding opportunities, the RSO has conducted an experiment together with the people from Impacter. Based on the publications linked to your Pure profile, an algorithm is used to find the overlap of keywords in your abstracts and words present in the call descriptions of the new Horizon Europe workprogrammes.

These results can be used to generate a table with potentially interesting topics from the new EU funding programme ‘Horizon Europe’ that has started in the beginning of 2021. In order to provide all researchers a personal list of funding opportunities based on their publication records, we urge you to update your PURE account with an ORCID-ISNI or DAI code.

Update your PURE account with an ORCID-ISNI or DAI code for personalized funding opportunities!

Want to know more about funding or valorization opportunities? Feel free to contact the RSO team at RSO@umcutrecht.nl. You can also subscribe to the UMC Research News.

Rita Santos new grant advisor UMCU Brain Center

Rita Santos is a Grant Advisor at the UMC Utrecht Research Support Office, where she helps researchers to prepare competitive applications to obtain funding for their scientific research and/or technological development projects. She has a PhD in Aging and Chronic Diseases, with specialization in Neurosciences. She has +5 years of academic experience, where she was involved in R&D projects on the interplay between neuro-gliogenesis in depression.

Since 2018, Rita has been primarily engaged in innovation projects within the health / IT domains, being responsible for, or playing a key role in the development of several innovation projects, specializing particularly in large H2020 projects (>€12M in EU funding).

Non-coding RNA webinar welcomes 300 participants

May 11th almost 300 people took part in the Neuronline SfN webinar on non-coding (nc)RNA in the brain, hosted by Jeroen Pasterkamp. Thousands of ncRNAs have been identified with functions in processes, such as translation regulation and RNA processing. Different classes of ncRNAs exist, including microRNAs, circRNAs and tRNAs, some of which are enriched in the nervous system and neural cells.

Speakers like David Henshall, Noora Puhakka, and Gerhard Schratt talked about some of these functions of ncRNAs in the developing and adult brain and highlighted how their deregulation contributes to brain trauma and disease. If you are also interested in ncRNA in the brain and you were unable to attend, you can (if registered as SfN or FENS member) still watch the webinar on demand at https://bit.ly/3hicYIT.

Three new Associate Professors

Three researchers from the Brain Center have been appointed as associate professors: Martijn Pisters, Irene van der Schaaf en Kevin Kenna.

Martijn Pisters

Martijn Pisters

Martijn is trained as a physiotherapist, clinical epidemiologist and physiotherapy scientist. For the last eight years he worked at the department of Rehabilitation, Physiotherapy Science and Sport.

His research aims to contribute to getting a better insight in patients’ health and movement behaviour patterns, associated long-term health consequences, and development of successful strategies to empower patients towards sustainable health and movement behavioural change. In the last years he received several research grants for projects in which new innovative and blended intervention using monitoring and eCoaching technology (e.g. in patients with stroke) are developed and evaluated. 

The success of health care, especially in physiotherapy, depends largely on patient’s adherence to self-management recommendations on how to cope with their complaints or disease, and their ability to change health behaviour patterns. Especially for preventive purposes and long-term effectiveness of interventions the establishment of sustainable health and movement behavioural change is therefore essential.”

He combines his work as a researcher with teaching and the coordination of the educational MSc program Physiotherapy Science and being professor (lector) empowering healthy behaviour at Fontys University of Applied Science. Currently, Martijn supervises eleven PhD students and coordinates several research projects conducted in large consortia (e.g. interdisciplinary, public-private partners and in collaboration with several international universities).

Martijn: “The open culture and supportive environment I experienced at UMC Utrecht allowed me to establish a successful structural collaboration between UMC Utrecht, HU, Fontys and the Leidsche Rijn Julius Gezondheidscentra, called the ‘Academische Werkplaats eerstelijns Fysiotherapie’. This collaboration provides a unique academic environment with primary care and enables interdisciplinary research and innovation for our researchers, clinicians and students. In the coming years it is my mission is to strengthen my research program and expand the impact of our work with the ultimate aim to better empower patients towards sustainable movement behavioural change.”

Irene van der Schaaf

Irene van der Schaaf started working in the staff of the Radiology department of the UMC Utrecht as Neuro-interventional Radiologist in 2011.  After her PhD in neurovascular imaging in 2005 she continued doing scientific research and collaborated with the University of Califonia in San Francisco on CT perfusion imaging.

Irene: “The neuro-interventional Radiology is an exciting profession. The continuous innovations and developments enable minimal invasive treatments of different cerebrovascular diseases. For example; we can treat brain aneurysms and ischemic stroke patients without opening the skull. We do this by an endovascular approach. We reach and treat the target in the brain through the blood vessels with specially developed devices.  That is key in image guided treatment: focusing treatment on the diseased part while sparing the surrounding healthy tissue.

I have two main topics in my research projects. First; developing new imaging techniques and using artificial intelligence (AI) in pathogenesis, diagnosis, and prediction of neurovascular diseases. Second; improving peri-procedural patient care. For this project I start the ‘Innovation Poli Image Guided Treatment’ aiming to optimize patient information and safety and evaluate the innovations in image guided treatment. Also new treatment strategies can be evaluated in a randomized way by using the TWICS (trials within cohorts) design.

In my research I collaborate with the department of Neurology, Neurosurgery, Vascular surgery, the department of Epidemiology, the UMC Utrecht Education center, the image science institute group (ISI), and private partners as PIE medical imaging, which has great added value for my clinical, scientific and educational work.”

“I will continue to work on my projects in imaging and image guided treatment in neurovascular diseases. My final goal is to improve outcome in patients with neurovascular diseases. To achieve this I will set up the innovation poli image guided treatment and expand collaborations with other medical centers and research groups.“

Kevin Kenna

I am a life sciences researcher with 10 years working experience on neurological disorders. My most impactful work has been in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease for which I discovered 3 of 15 known disease genes. My career has taken me through top research centers for my field, including 4 years at Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), 3.5 years at UMass Medical School (Boston, USA) and 3.5 years at UMCU. I work with various partners spanning universities, hospitals and pharma in Europe and the US. My ambitions are to help address urgent unmet needs for disease treatments and genetic testing.

At the UMC Utrecht, I have built a team that brings together the state of the art in genetics, multi-omics and AI. We work with some of the largest biological datasets in existence, including genome / exome sequencing of 100K individuals and a variety of omics (RNAseq, ATACseq, other). Right now, our biggest focus is on building reusable data, models, and tools that will help researchers and clinicians relate individual DNA profiles to functional outcomes.

To achieve this, we are performing single cell profiling of human brain and spinal cord tissue, training deep neural networks to learn DNA/RNA regulatory codes and coding user friendly software tools so that our work can easily be redeployed by others. We collaborate with a range of clinical and translational expertise in the UMC Utrecht Brain Center to validate and characterize newly identified disease genes, pathways, and cell types.

“The UHD position is a motivating endorsement of our work. I have benefited hugely from connecting with expertise in the Brain Center, and I hope that this added visibility connect us further. In particular, I would be excited to assist other researchers that might like to incorporate our methods / tools for their own use cases and other brain disorders.”

On the 25th of June Kevin held his UHD-Lecture “Now is the time to work in neurogenetics” (youtube-link).

Cover Story

What is the story behind the thesis cover?
This time: ‘Neurohabilitation for upper limb recovery after stroke’ by Eline van Lieshout

My thesis focuses on a perspective on the understanding and assessments of post-stroke impairment and recovery, and on the potential of non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) techniques, particularly TMS, to improve upper limb performance.

On the cover, created by my friend Hugo Out and myself, you see six small sushi, representing human brains. One of the ‘brains’ has a bleeding/hemorrhage, referring to the statistic that 1 in every 6 people will suffer from a stroke once in their lifetime. The hand reaches for the sushi with the thumb and index finger in a pincer grip, which is an important skill in daily life activities.

Impaired arm function is associated with low health-related quality of life. Therefore, we need to improve our understanding of upper limb recovery processes, develop optimized treatment strategies, and identify factors that predict motor outcomes.

The predicted recovery of motor function influences decision-making regarding goals, type, and duration of rehabilitation for each patient.

A personal detail: I have chosen a food item representing the brain because I love to eat and talk about food, try out new recipes and restaurants. “

Grants, awards, and prizes

Jaco Zwanenburg received a Vici-grant for his project ‘seismology of the brain’. Zwanenburg will specifically focus on the relation between a heartbeat and the brain. https://www.uu.nl/en/news/ten-utrecht-based-researchers-receive-vici-grant

Ynte Ruigrok is selected for the second edition of the Dutch CardioVascular Alliance (DCVA) Leadership Program. Together with 14 other talents, she will work on the five challenging and complex topics the DCVA partners encounter. DCVA Leadership Participants 2021 (dcvalliance.nl)

Olaf Verschuren is awarded with €10.000 of pilot fund ‘Science communication by scientists: Appreciated!’. This funds supports scientists who are committed to science communication. Olaf received this prize for their efforts to bring sleep, exercise, and nutrition to the attention of rehabilitation professionals and parents. https://www.kcrutrecht.nl/prijs-wetenschapscommunicatie-voor-onderzoek-olaf-verschuren/

Niek van der Aa and Evita Wiegers both received a grant of the WKZ fund (€200.000). Together with Nienke Wagenaar, Niek will use advanced MRI analysis techniques to better link brain damage and clinical outcome after perinetal arerial ischemic infarcts in children and develop an individualized prediction model. This grant is a collaboration with Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, Canada, where these analysis techniques are already in place. With her project, Evita will use the full potential of 7T MRI to study the preterm brain. She aims to elucidate the influence of prematurity on brain perfusion and metabolism at term equivalent age, which may provide us unique information on brain maturation and novel early markers for future neurodevelopmental outcome.

Alexander Leemans is awarded with the Senior ISMRM Fellowship Award  for his impactful contributions in research, education, and public dissemination of diffusion image processing and analysis methods. https://www.ismrm.org/21m/fellows/

Steven Nagtegaal received a stimulation grant for young researchers at the ‘Wetenschappelijke dag van de Landelijke werkgroep neuro-oncologie’ (LWNO). He was awarded for his research into long term effects of radiation of brain tumours and quality of life after radiation treatment of brain metastases.

Joris de Graaf wins the ‘Livit Trophy 2021’. The ‘Livit Trophy’ is awarded annually to an aios rehabilitation medicine or ready-made rehabilitation doctor who has made himself particularly deserving in the scientific field with regard to rehabilitation medicine. https://www.kcrutrecht.nl/joris-de-graaf-wint-livit-trofee-2021/


Vinkers et al. (2021). The methodological quality of 176,620 randomized controlled trials published between 1966 and 2018 reveals a positive trend but also an urgent need for improvement. PLoS Biol. Apr 19;19(4):e3001162. Pubmed

Omrani et al. (2021). Identification of Novel Neurocircuitry Through Which Leptin Targets Multiple Inputs to the Dopamine System to Reduce Food Reward Seeking. Biol Psychiatry. Feb 23;S0006-3223(21)00121-9. Pubmed

Post et al. (2021). Ultra-early tranexamic acid after subarachnoid haemorrhage (ULTRA): a randomised controlled trial. Lancet. Jan 9;397(10269):112-118. Pubmed

Weaver, Kuijf et al. (2021). Strategic infarct locations for post-stroke cognitive impairment: a pooled analysis of individual patient data from 12 acute ischaemic stroke cohorts. Lancet Neurol. Jun;20(6):448-459. Pubmed

Duprey et al. (2021). Opioid Use Increases the Risk of Delirium in Critically Ill Adults Independently of Pain. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. In press. Pubmed

Straathof et al. (2021). Deuterium Metabolic Imaging of the Healthy and Diseased Brain. Neuroscience. 2021 Jan 22:S0306-4522(21)00030-0. Pubmed

Timmins et al. (2021). Comparing methods of detecting and segmenting unruptured intracranial aneurysms on TOF-MRAS: The ADAM challenge. Neuroimage. May 27;238:118216. Pubmed

Eelkman Rooda et al. (2021). Single-pulse stimulation of cerebellar nuclei stops epileptic thalamic activity. Brain Stimul. May 20;14(4):861-872. Pubmed


March 11: Annemarie AkkermansPatient outcome after cerebrovascular interventions: Perioperative respiratory and cardiovascular management

March 18: Margit KooijmanManagement of patients with shoulder pain in primary care: A pause for reflection

March 23: Eline van LieshoutNeurorehabilitation for upper limb recovery after stroke: The use of non-invasive brain stimulation

May 11: Kees van HespenThe Brain at Risk: Detection and Quantification of Cerebrovascular Disease

May 12: Fieke TerstappenCardiorenal disease following fetal growth restriction: Prevention starts in utero

June 10: Arjen LindenholzIntracranial Vessel Wall MR Imaging: From bench to bedside

June 15: Jelle LamsmaRisk factors for violent behavior in people with psychotic disorders

The editors of the Brain Center Bulletin wish you all a very nice summer! The next issue of this Bulletin will be published around october / november 2021. Feel free to mail your contentideas or interesting newsitems to Esther Alberts.

Jeroen Pasterkamp
Marjolein Sneeboer
Esther Alberts