Welcome to my personal webpage!
A bit about me and my clinical & research path
During medical school I realized that while treating patients is of importance to me I was also interested in understanding and exploring the underlying mechanism of a certain disease, symptom or treatment. With this exploration and the subsequent generation of new insights I would than also be able to help patients and possibly provide alternatives or more information. After classes, I started to look into which factors are important in atherosclerosis plaque formation and stability, at the laboratory of experimental cardiology. The role of the immune system in plaque stability intrigued me to further explore the role of the immune system in health and disease and resulted in a final year research project at the laboratory of translational immunology. After graduation I had to great opportunity to do research in the USA (San Diego & Tucson) and for 2.5 years I looked into the mechanism of action of a new therapy for the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Upon return to the Netherlands I started my PhD in translational immunology.
During my PhD I got more and more intrigued by the interaction of the immune system with a pathogen (viruses, bacteria, fungi etc.) and how these interactions are altered in the immune compromised setting. While some people are born with a lesser functioning immune system others acquire this via for instance treatment for their autoimmune disease or cancer (chemotherapy, irradiation e.g.). To further look into the cross-talk between a pathogen, the immune system and how this translates to a patient, I started my medical specialty training in medical microbiology.
Figure. Cross-talk between the immune system, a pathogen (bacteria, viruses, fungi) and the individual.
The state of immune system affects the ability to fight off infections or attack certain tissues of the individual (autoimmune disease; type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis e.g.). A pathogen can cause an infection and make you sick, but can also directly affect the immune system (as with HIV) and make you more susceptible to other infections. A person can use vaccinations to increase protection to certain infections (flu, meningitis e.g.) and certain lifestyles affect the state of your immune system. Most of the time all these factors are balanced, as we carry many bacteria/viruses in and on our body that our immune system tolerates and can even beneficial.
During my medical residency I applied and received a Marie Curie fellowship that allowed me to study the interaction between certain immune cells (T and B cells), important in the generation of proteins (antibodies) that play crucial roles in fighting infections, responding to vaccinations and autoimmune diseases, among others. For this project my wife and I moved to Boston (USA) and I started working as a research fellow at the lab of M.C. Carroll at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical school. In 2020 we will move back to the Netherlands and I’ll continue my clinical residency in medical microbiology as well as this and other research projects.
Figure. When T and B cells interact with each other it can result in the production of antibodies (immunoglobulins) by B cells. Antibodies are important in fighting off and protecting you from new and subsequent infections (normal response), but in some cases antibodies are mistakenly targeted against cells of your own body and this can result in an autoimmune disease (such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Type 1 Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis).