prof. dr. M.J.N.L. (Manon) Benders

Full Professor

  • Birth Center Neonatology - Medical

prof. dr. M.J.N.L. (Manon) Benders

Research Programs


Manon Benders is professor in Neonatology of the Wilhelmina Children's hospital, UMC Utrecht. Currently she is head of the Department and director of research of the Division of Woman&Baby.
She obtained her PhD degree in Leiden (1999, Prof. Margot van der Bor). She was qualified as a Pediatrician-Neonatologist since 2006 (prof. Frank van Bel). thereafter she did a fellowship in Neonatal Neurology (prof. Linda de Vries.
She has been a consultant neonatologist in the Wilhelmina Children’s hospital of the University Medical Center in Utrecht, the Netherlands since 2006. Since april 2014 she was working part-time as a senior clinical lecturer, King’s college London and honary consultant in Neonatology at Guy’s and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust.
Before she did a junior research fellowship on cerebral ultrasound (Prof. dr. F. Walther) in UCLA in 1997, USA and a senior neonatal neurology research fellowship on neonatal neuro-imaging at University of Geneva (Prof. dr. P.S. Hüppi) in 2006-2007 as part of her fellowship Neonatal Neurology. 
Manon is supervising in total 12 PhD students and 4 clinical research fellows/postdocs, working on national and international research projects, focusing on perinatal neuro-imaging evaluating brain development and neuro-protective and -regenerative strategies.


2008 finished fellowship Neonatal Neurology (Prof dr. Linda de Vries)
2006 Pediatrician- Neonatologist (prof. dr. Frank van Bel)
1999 PhD, Leiden University, the Netherlands (prof. dr. Margot van de Bor)
1996 Bachelor of Medicine, Leiden University, the Netherlands


Research line

Her research focuses on neonatal neuro-imaging. These techniques appear to give the opportunity to detect subtle differences, which are helpful in predicting neurodevelopmental outcome and evaluating of neuroprotective/neuroregenerative strategies to reduce brain injury, which is the other part of her research. She is supervising several PhD students and clinical research fellows, working in different national and international research projects, focusing on neonatal neuro-imaging and neuro-protective and regenerative strategies.


Most recent key publications

1: Benders M, Palmu K, Menache C, Borradori-Tolsa C, Lazeyras F, Sizonenko S, Dubois J, Vanhatalo S, Hüppi PS. Early Brain Activity Relates to Subsequent Brain Growth in Premature Infants. Cereb Cortex. 2014 May 27. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 24867393.
2: van den Heuvel MP, Kersbergen KJ, de Reus MA, Keunen K, Kahn RS, Groenendaal F, de Vries LS, Benders M. The Neonatal Connectome During Preterm Brain Development. Cereb Cortex. 2014 May 15. pii: bhu095. [Epub ahead of print] PubMedPMID: 24833018.
3: Benders M, van der Aa NE, Roks M, van Straaten HL, Isgum I, Viergever MA, Groenendaal F, de Vries LS, van Bel F. Feasibility and safety of erythropoietin for neuroprotection after perinatal arterial ischemic stroke. J Pediatr. 2014 Mar;164(3):481-486.
4: Benders M, van der Aa NE, Roks M, van Straaten HL, Isgum I, Viergever MA, Groenendaal F, de Vries LS, van Bel F. Feasibility and safety of erythropoietin for neuroprotection after perinatal arterial ischemic stroke. J Pediatr. 2014 Mar;164(3):481-486.
5: Dubois J, Benders M, Cachia A, Lazeyras F, Ha-Vinh Leuchter R, Sizonenko SV, Borradori-Tolsa C, Mangin JF, Hüppi PS. Mapping the early cortical foldingprocess in the preterm newborn brain. Cereb Cortex. 2008 Jun;18(6):1444-54

Side Activities

  • Member of the Core team Brain, research theme UMC Utrecht

    Member of the Core Team Child Helath, research theme UMC Utrecht

    Member of the Programma Committee Dynamics of Youth, representative UMC Utrecht

    Figurelead of the foundation 'Gezond Geboren'

    Member of the Dutch/Flemish Society of Neonatal Neurology, former Chair from 2012-2016

    Member Society of Pediatric Research                                                                                       

    Member European Society of Pediatric Research    

    Member of the section Council Brain and Development, from 2014 to 2019                                                 

    Member Dutch society of Pediatrics  (NVK): Neonatology; neonatal neurology, neonatal hemodynamics                                  

    Member of the European Neonatal Brain Club

    Former Member of the committee Dutch Ministry of Health Committee: ‘Pregnancy and delivery: a good start’.

Fellowship and Awards

  • Funding as Principal Investigator

    1991      Leids Universitair Fonds: International Foundation for Student Research Projects: ‘Cardiac and Cerebral Doppler-sonography in Neonates’. University of California Los Angeles, Verenigde Staten (€20K)

    2005      NSCK reward: Registry ‘Severe Hyperbilirubinemia in Neonates in the Netherlands.’ (NSCK, surveillance) (€10k)

    2006      “Ter Meulen Fonds”, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, The Netherlands, Clinical Research Fellowship. Supervisor: Prof. P.S. Hüppi, University of Geneva, Switzerland (€50k)

    2006      International Pediatric Research Foundation (IPRF): exchange program Young Investigator Fellowship of the ESPR, for Clinical Research fellowship Geneve, Prof. P.S. Hüppi, University Geneva, Switzerland (€20k)

    2009      The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO): program ‘early evaluation of medical innovation’: ‘Perinatal allopurinol trial for reduction of birth asphyxia induced brain damage’. Co-PI with Obstetrician: Dr. J.B. Derks (PhD: Joepe Kaandorp) (€150k +€50K UMCU)

    2009      Alexandre Suerman Stipendium: ‘Reference ranges for the lateral cerebral ventricles of newborn infants’  (PhD: Margaretha Brouwer) (€75k +€50k UMCU)

    2009      Catherijne Foundation: MRI of preterm infants: prediction of neurodevelopmental outcome (€200k)

    2010      Univeristy Medical Center Utrecht / Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital Foundation: ‘Maturation dependent vulnerability of the Brain and Outcome of Preterm Infants assessed by MRI’ (PhD: Karina Kersbergen) (€150k+€50k UMC)

    2011      International Foundation initiated by University Medical Centre Utrecht ‘MRI-biomarkers of Outcome and Perinatal Brain Injury in Neonates with Congenital Heart Disease’ (€50k)

    2013      Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Province and Municipality of Utrecht, Utrecht University and the University Medical Center Utrecht: ‘The Nutri-brain project: a randomised, double-blind, controlled trial to evaluate the effects of a nutritional supplement on brain integrity in preterm infants.  (€2.5m)

    2016 Nutricia research: fetal and neonatal MRI in youth cohort utrecht. 200.000 euro. Elise Turk

    2018    Crucial trial: CeRebrUm and CardIac protection with ALlopurinol in neonates with congenital heart disease requiring neonatal cardiac surgery.zonMW 80-84800-98-42022 (1.6 mljn). National RCT. Prinicipal investigator.


    Funding as Co-Investigator

    2008-2010     European project Framework VI: ‘NEOBRAIN Neonatal estimation of brain damage risk and identification of neuroprotectants’ LSHM-CT-2006-036534, contract Nr 036534. Member of the MRI workpackage. (€2.3m)

    2009                Ministero della Salute – Direzione Generale della Ricerca Scientifica e Tecnologica. ‘Early identification of newborns at high risk of brain injury through a valida- ted biomarkers profile and specific neuro-imaging patterns. A follow up study of clinical and neurodevelopmental outcome in a large cohort study’. (PI Prof G. Buonocore, University Siena.) Co-applicant, co-supervised 3 PhD students. (€800k)

    2011      European study: ‘SafeBoosC: Safeguarding the brain of our smallest children: randomised, blinded, multinational (10 countries), phase II feasibility clinical trial on near-infrared spectroscopy monitoring combined with defined treatment guidelines versus standard monitoring and treatment as usual in premature infantsconsortium’. Neuro-imaging work package leader. (€1.2m)

    2012 – 2020  The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). ‘Adult mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) to regenerate the neonatal brain’ (Co-PIs Prof Annemieke Kavelaars and Prof Linda de Vries). Co-applicant and neuro-imaging workpackage leader. (€1.7m)

    2012                Grant Health Insurance company: Nuts-Ohra: ‘Neuromonitoring during neonatal surgery, and evaluating brain injury with MRI and long-term outcome’. (PI Petra Lemmers). Co-applicant, supervised PhD student: Lisanne Stolwijk. (€160k+50k)

    2013                Irish Medical Research Council: ‘Automatic analysis of brain injury in MRI of asphyxiated infants’Co-applicant supervised post-doctoral Fellow (Dr Keelin Murphy). (€100k)

    2013                Univeristy Medical Center Utrecht / Wilhelmina Children’s hospital Foundation: ‘White matter injury of the preterm infants’, animal experimental study.’ (PI Dr Cora Nijboer). Supervised PhD student: Erik van Tilborg (€150k +€50k UMCU)

    2014                Univeristy Medical Center Utrecht / Wilhelmina Children’s hospital foundation: Anatomical brain networks and its functional dynamics in neonates : a biomarker for cognitive outcome’. (PI Dr Martijn van de Heuvel). Supervised PhD student: Kristin Keunen (€150k+€50k UMCU)


    2016            IGLOInsuline like growth factor levels and outcome in extreme premature infants: Brain foundation. The Next Step HA2016-02-04. (co-applicant) (480.000)


    2016   Univeristy Medical Center Utrecht / Wilhelmina Children’s hospital foundation: 

    The effects of preterm birth of stressresilience during childhood. WKZ foundation. 


                       (co-applicant) €150.000 Femke Lammertink



Research Output (263)

Non-right-handedness in children born extremely preterm:Relation to early neuroimaging and long-term neurodevelopment

van Heerwaarde Alise A, van der Kamp Laura T, van der Aa Niek E, de Vries Linda S, Groenendaal Floris, Jongmans Marian J, Eijsermans Rian J C, Koopman-Esseboom Corine, van Haastert Inge-Lot C, Benders Manon J N L, Dudink Jeroen 6 jul 2020, In: PLoS ONE.

Morphine affects brain activity and volumes in preterms:An observational multi-center study

Tataranno M L, Gui L, Hellström-Westas L, Toet M, Groenendaal F, Claessens N H P, Schuurmans J, Fellman V, Sävman K, de Vries L S, Huppi P, Benders M J N L 7 apr 2020, In: Early Human Development. 144 8 p.

Preterm infants with isolated cerebellar hemorrhage show bilateral cortical alterations at term equivalent age

Dijkshoorn Aicha B C, Turk Elise, Hortensius Lisa M, van der Aa Niek E, Hoebeek Freek E, Groenendaal Floris, Benders Manon J N L, Dudink Jeroen 24 mrt 2020, In: Scientific Reports. 10 12 p.

The development and validation of a cerebral ultrasound scoring system for infants with hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy

Annink Kim V, de Vries Linda S, Groenendaal Floris, Vijlbrief Daniel C, Weeke Lauren C, Roehr Charles C, Lequin Maarten, Reiss Irwin K M, Govaert Paul, Benders Manon J N L, Dudink Jeroen 1 mrt 2020, In: Pediatric Research. 87 , p. 59-66 8 p.

Perinatal thalamic injury: MRI predictors of electrical status epilepticus in sleep and long-term neurodevelopment

van den Munckhof Bart, Zwart Anne F, Weeke Lauren C, Claessens Nathalie H P, Plate Joost D J, Leemans Alexander, Kuijf Hugo J, van Teeseling Heleen C, Leijten Frans S S, Benders Manon J N, Braun Kees P J, de Vries Linda S, Jansen Floor E 25 feb 2020, In: NeuroImage. Clinical. 26 9 p.

Brain temperature of infants with neonatal encephalopathy following perinatal asphyxia calculated using magnetic resonance spectroscopy

Annink Kim, V, Groenendaal Floris, Cohen Daan, van der Aa Niek E., Alderliesten Thomas, Dudink Jeroen, Benders Manon J. N. L., Wijnen Jannie P. 1 jan 2020, In: Pediatric Research. 6 p.

Automatic brain tissue segmentation in fetal MRI using convolutional neural networks

Khalili N., Lessmann N., Turk E., Claessens N., de Heus R., Kolk T., Viergever M. A., Benders M. J. N. L., Isgum I. dec 2019, In: Magnetic Resonance Imaging. 64 , p. 77-89 13 p.

Early prediction of unilateral cerebral palsy in infants at risk:MRI versus the hand assessment for infants

Wagenaar Nienke, Verhage Cornelia H, de Vries Linda S, van Gasselt Bram P L, Koopman-Esseboom Corine, Leemans Alexander, Groenendaal Floris, Benders Manon J N L, van der Aa Niek E 13 nov 2019, In: Pediatric Research. 87 , p. 932-939 8 p.

Functional connectome of the fetal brai

Turk Elise, van den Heuvel Marion I., Benders Manon J., de Heus Roel, Franx Arie, Manning Janessa H., Hect Jasmine L., Hernandez-Andrade Edgar, Hassan Sonia S., Romero Roberto, Kahn René S., Thomason Moriah E., van den Heuvel Martijn P. 4 nov 2019, In: Journal of Neuroscience. 39 , p. 9716-9724 9 p.

Rouwzorg aan ouders die een kind verliezen: belemmerende en bevorderende factoren en ervaren conflicten.

Kochen Eline, Teunissen Saskia C.C.M., Jenken Floor, de Jonge Roos, Benders M, Boelen Paul, Grootenhuis Martha, Kars Marijke C nov 2019,

All Research Output (263)