dr. S.W. (Sander) van der Laan

Assistant Professor

  • Department of Clinical Chemistry and Haematology

dr. S.W. (Sander) van der Laan

Research Programs


I am an assistant professor at the Central Diagnostics Laboratory which is part of the Circulatory Health Program at the University Medical Center Utrecht and University of Utrecht and work with professor dr. Gerard Pasterkamp and professor dr. Folkert W. Asselbergs. My research interest is focused on the genetic and epigenetic causes of carotid and coronary atherosclerosis underlying ischemic stroke (IS) and coronary artery disease (CAD), and their intermediate traits such as carotid intima media thickness (cIMT) and arterial calcification. Large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified hundreds of genetic loci robustly associated to these diseases and traits. With my work I ultimately aim to move from GWAS loci to novel therapeutic targets for cardiovascular diseases through extensive in silico, and in vitro modeling.

As a means to this end, I am currently working on integrating Bayesian fine-mapping methodology, co-localization, causal inference through Mendelian Randomization, expression and methylation quantitative trait loci analyses, GWAS, single-cell RNA sequencing, and plaque characterization based on high-throughput imaging of histological slides and machine learning algorithms. This has resulted in the identification of 28 loci with a substrate in plaques that harbor genes potentially causal to atherosclerosis and amenable to therapy. We are currently pursuing several targets in vitro.

My vision is that this holistic approach will identify the truly viable targets to feed the drug developmental pipeline to combat the cardiovascular disease epidemic. This approach is entirely human-centered and does not involved new in vivo experiments.

I actively contributed to the International Stroke Genetics Consortium. In addition, I made some contributions to international consortia, including GENIUS-CHDGIANTGLGCGoDMC, and various other international consortia.

Since 2011 I am a member of the European Atherosclerosis Society, European Society of Human Genetics, and American Society of Human Genetics. Since 2012 I am a member of the Nederlands Verenging voor Humane Genetica. Since 2017 I am a member of the European Society of Cardiology.

I hold a degree in Biology (BSc) and Medical Biology (MSc) from the Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands. I obtained my PhD in 2016 entitled "The genetics of carotid atherosclerosis - Associations with clinical outcome and histological plaque characteristics" under supervision of professor Gerard Pasterkamp, professor Paul I.W. de Bakker, and doctor Jessica van Setten.

This work is covered through various (inter)national collaborative grant programs: CVON-GENIUS2 funded by the Dutch Heart Foundation (DHF, grant-number: CVON 2017-20), ERA-CVD ‘druggable-MI-targets’ in part funded by the DHF (grant-number: JTC2017-40-2017T096), H2020 'TO_AITION', and Leducq Fondation (PlaqOmics).

Fellowship and Awards

  • I applied and received the following grants.

    2019-09 to 2020-09SIG “DEEP-ENIGMA” | € 5,000.- | Collaborative Grant together with dr. D. Hessen, and dr. A. Bagheri.

    2019-09 to 2020-09SIG “ELSIE” | in kind | Collaborative Grant together with professor dr. Aletta D. Kraneveld, professor dr. D. Oberski, and A. López-Rincón.

    2019-05 to 2020-05SIG “CONVOCALS” | € 5,000.- | Collaborative Grant together with dr. A. Bagheri, and T. van de Kerkhof.

    2020-01 to 2025-01: H2020 (EU) "TO_AITION" | € 473,750.- | Collaborative Grant together with professor dr. G. Pasterkamp, dr. M. Mokry, and dr. I. Höfer.

    2017-09 to 2019-09: ERA-CVD JCT 2017 (EU; JTC2017-40-2017T096) “druggable-MI-genes” | € 250,000.- | Collaborative Grant together with professor dr. Folkert W. Asselbergs.

    2015-06 to 2015-06: Jaap Schouten Foundation (Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands) “Travel Grant” | € 1,500.- | European Society of Human Genetics Conference 2015.

    2013-2014: BBMRI-NL (Leiden, Netherlands) “Genotyping of the Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm-Express Biobank Study” | € 50,000.- | Grant number: CP2013-63.

Research Output (55)

Alternate approach to stroke phenotyping identifies a genetic risk locus for small vessel stroke

von Berg Joanna, van der Laan Sander W, McArdle Patrick F, Malik Rainer, Kittner Steven J, Mitchell Braxton D, Worrall Bradford B, de Ridder Jeroen, Pulit Sara L 11 feb 2020, In: European Journal of Human Genetics. 28 , p. 963-972 10 p.

Beyond GWAS in Atrial Fibrillation Genetics

van der Laan Sander W, Asselbergs Folkert W 31 jan 2020, In: Circulation research. 126 , p. 361-363 3 p.

PCSK6 Is a Key Protease in the Control of Smooth Muscle Cell Function in Vascular Remodeling

Rykaczewska Urszula, Suur Bianca E, Röhl Samuel, Razuvaev Anton, Lengquist Mariette, Sabater-Lleal Maria, van der Laan Sander W, Miller Clint L, Wirka Robert C, Kronqvist Malin, Gonzalez Diez Maria, Vesterlund Mattias, Gillgren Peter, Odeberg Jacob, Lindeman Jan Hn, Veglia Fabrizio, Humphries Steve E, de Faire Ulf, Baldassarre Damiano, Tremoli Elena, Lehtiö Janne, Hansson Göran K, Paulsson-Berne Gabrielle, Pasterkamp Gerard, Quertermous Thomas, Hamsten Anders, Eriksson Per, Hedin Ulf, Matic Ljubica 2 jan 2020, In: Circulation research. 126 , p. 571-585 15 p.

Family history and polygenic risk of cardiovascular disease:Independent factors associated with secondary cardiovascular events in patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy

Timmerman Nathalie, de Kleijn Dominique P.V., de Borst Gert J., den Ruijter Hester M., Asselbergs Folkert W., Pasterkamp Gerard, Haitjema Saskia, van der Laan Sander W. 1 jan 2020, In: Atherosclerosis. 307 , p. 121-129 9 p.

Polygenic Susceptibility of Aortic Aneurysms Associates to the Diameter of the Aneurysm Sac:the Aneurysm-Express Biobank Cohort

van Laarhoven Constance J.H.C.M., van Setten Jessica, van Herwaarden Joost A., Pasterkamp Gerard, de Kleijn Dominique P.V., de Borst Gert J., van der Laan Sander W. 27 dec 2019, In: Scientific Reports. 9

Associations of autozygosity with a broad range of human phenotypes

Clark David W et al. 1 dec 2019, In: Nature Communications. 10

Platelet RNA modules point to coronary calcification in asymptomatic women with former preeclampsia

Hartman Robin J.G., Korporaal Suzanne J.A., Mokry Michal, de Jager Saskia C.A., Meeuwsen John A.L., van der Laan Sander W., Lansu Nico R., Zoet Gerbrand A., Pasterkamp Gerard, Urbanus Rolf T., Hoefer Imo E., Franx Arie, Velthuis Birgitta K., van Rijn Bas B., den Ruijter Hester M., 1 dec 2019, In: Atherosclerosis. 291 , p. 114-121 8 p.

Multiancestry genome-wide association study of 520,000 subjects identifies 32 loci associated with stroke and stroke subtypes (vol 50, pg 524, 2018):Multiancestry genome-wide association study of 520,000 subjects identifies 32 loci associated with stroke and stroke subtypes (Nature Genetics, (2018), 50, 4, (524-537), 10.1038/s41588-018-0058-3)

Malik Rainer, Chauhan Ganesh, Traylor Matthew, Sargurupremraj Muralidharan, Okada Yukinori, Mishra Aniket, Rutten-Jacobs Loes, Giese Anne-Katrin, van der Laan Sander W, Gretarsdottir Solveig, Anderson Christopher D, Chong Michael, Adams Hieab H H, Ago Tetsuro, Almgren Peter, Amouyel Philippe, Ay Hakan, Bartz Traci M, Benavente Oscar R, Bevan Steve, Boncoraglio Giorgio B, Brown Robert D, Butterworth Adam S, Carrera Caty, Carty Cara L, Chasman Daniel I, Chen Wei-Min, Cole John W, Correa Adolfo, Cotlarciuc Ioana, Cruchaga Carlos, Danesh John, de Bakker Paul I W, DeStefano Anita L, den Hoed Marcel, Duan Qing, Engelter Stefan T, Falcone Guido J, Gottesman Rebecca F, Grewal Raji P, Gudnason Vilmundur, Gustafsson Stefan, Haessler Jeffrey, Harris Tamara B, Hassan Ahamad, Havulinna Aki S, Heckbert Susan R, Holliday Elizabeth G, Howard George, Pulit Sara L, 3 jun 2019, In: Nature Genetics. 51 , p. 1192-1193 2 p.

Subsequent Event Risk in Individuals with Established Coronary Heart Disease:Design and Rationale of the GENIUS-CHD Consortium

Patel Riyaz S. et al. 21 mrt 2019, In: Circulation. Genomic and precision medicine. 12

All Research Output (55)