Proteomics & biomarkers
The research area Proteomics & Biomarkers focuses on the discovery of molecules derived from the body, in order to predict adverse events and to provide insight into the aetiology of cardiovascular disease processes. The driving force behind all these developments is the creation of large bio banks of different patient populations with different body samples, including serum and plasma, atherosclerotic plaques, adipocytes and circulating cells.
Driven by recent advances for interrogating the human genome, this research area aims to understand the genetic basis of cardiovascular disease. In addition to the identification of novel gene variants associated with disease, we seek to elucidate the underlying biological mechanisms of disease, and assess the potential for individual prevention.
The main interests of the research area Molecular & Cellular Biology are to unravel acute functional relevance of individual proteins, SNPs-genes, including biomarkers, and elucidate mechanistic insights into their long-term role in signal transduction and gene expression.
In the research area, Metabolism, we focus on the interplay between metabolic organs (e.g. adipose tissue and skeletal muscle) and the cardiovascular system under healthy, obese and diabetic circumstances.
Four important mediators of this interplay are:
- Hormones, chemokines and cytokines (adipokines, myokines).
- Circulating immune cells.
- Extracellular vesicles (exosomes).
- Lipids and other metabolites.
All four mediators link to the alterations in tissue function and tissue-resident immune cell populations observed in obesity and type II diabetes. Thus, playing a role in the systemic low-grade inflammation and/or local inflammatory processes observed in these metabolic disorders.
The main interest of the research area Imaging is to apply high resolution imaging techniques to visualize cellular processes to validate biomarkers (for example). A focus and strength of the group is its ability for obtaining 3D information from MR images and automated image analysis. Using MR, CT and echo it is possible to investigate vessel wall structure, vessels, perfusion, diffusion, and ischemic defects.
Research focuses include:
- The use of MR images as biomarkers.
- High field Magnetic Resonance.
- Imaging and its clinical applications.
- HIFU MR driven drug delivery.
- Nuclear imaging and medicine.
Prevention & public health
The research area Prevention & Public Health centers on the prevention of cardiovascular disease in the general population. Our research projects focus on individual and population-level risk factors as targets for primary prevention (etiology) and developing methods to identify high-risk groups and individuals for early interventions and/or preventive treatment (risk stratification and prediction). Longitudinal cohort studies in adults, elderly and children form the backbone of this research area.
Safety and efficacy of treatment is key in the development process. The research area incorporates modelling strategies to predict patient responses to treatment using the individual’s genetic fingerprint and stretches out to cost-effectiveness analyses. Both therapies to prevent disease as well as therapies to treat cardiovascular diseases are being developed and tested.
The research area Clinical Research Methods focuses on improving existing and developing innovative methodologies for the design, conduct, analysis and reporting of clinical epidemiologic research in the cardiovascular domain. This includes methods for research on the clinical value and cost-effectiveness of diagnostic and prognostic tests and (bio) markers, and of therapeutic and preventive interventions. Also seeking innovative methods for research on etiologic or causal factors for cardiovascular disease, for meta-analytical research, and research on the changing ethical issues regarding the use of new designs for clinical research.
Cardiovascular regenerative medicine
Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine Integrates research (both basic and applied) and patient care for regenerative medicine. We explore strategies to enhance efficacy, including potent cell types, cell less cell therapy approaches (e.g. miRNA, exosomes treatment), the smart use of biomaterials, and novel delivery strategies using state-of-the-art image fusion.
The translational axis drives our work. To this end, we utilize the abundant experience of the UU animal facility with a strong collaboration between the Hubrecht lab and the TU/e (Technical University, Eindhoven, NL). This creates an effective cross-pollination between the strategic programs of the UMC Utrecht namely Circulatory Health and Regenerative Medicine.