Group Visseren

I study the relation between insulin resistance (the inability to regulate blood sugar levels), metabolic syndromes (conditions including excess fat around the waist, high blood pressure and high blood sugar) and diabetes. In particular, I’m interested in the role of intra-abdominal fat and why obesity leads to vascular disease. My group is gaining increasing interest in prediction of vascular risk in various groups of patients and prediction of treatment effects in individual patients. This a next step towards precision medicine by treating the right patient with the right medication. We can now predict the gain in healthy life in individual patients by controlling blood pressure and cholesterol. 

Clinical Trials

Obesity and diabetes: it’s not about how much fat you have

For a long time, it was thought that excess fat led to metabolic dysfunction and obesity, which in turn, led to vascular disease. In 2008, we introduced the concept of fat tissue dysfunction and its relationship to vascular risk factors and disease. Being obese is no longer about how much fat someone has, but about the quality and function of fat (we use fat for energy and insulation). Fat cells that become functionally flawed can contribute to disease by the production of adipokines, inflammation and coagulation factors. Also, obese people are at higher risk for diabetes by the same process of adipokine production as a result of adipose tissue dysfunction.

Personalizing treatment for prevention of vascular diseases by predicting individual treatment effects

Patients with high risk for first or recurrent vascular events, such as patients with vascular disease and patients with diabetes receive medication that lowers blood pressure, lowers cholesterol and anticoagulants. However, not every patient will respond in the same way to the medication. We’re using data from large randomized clinical trials and from various cohorts to make prediction models for risk and for treatment effects in individual patients. We can now even predict lifetime risk and from there, also lifetime benefit from blood pressure lowering or cholesterol lowering therapy or from anticoagulants in terms of vascular disease-free life years gained. This information can be used to discuss with a patient (‘shared decision making’) whether or not to start or intensify treatment. 

Vaatrisico app and U-Prevent website/app

Many patients fall into the gray zone of risk – they may be at risk – and they often ask me why they need to take medication. Several years ago, we developed the vaatrisico app, available free of charge in App and Android stores. With the risk calculators in these apps, an individual’s vascular risk can be calculated, and this information can be easily communicated to patients.
Based on research in collaboration with various research groups world-wide, we’ve created U-Prevent, a website and app to calculate individual lifetime benefit of cholesterol lowering and blood pressure lowering and anticoagulant therapy. This is a real paradigm shift.  U-Prevent helps patients and their doctors to choose wisely with shared decision-making based on data from big data research. We have the ambition to further improve the prediction algorithms and tools in close collaboration with our colleagues from Harvard Medical School in Boston.  

Research team

Principal Investigator

Frank Visseren, MD, PhD

Research staff

Wilko Spiering, MD, PhD 
Jan Westerink, MD, PhD
Stan Janssen, MD

Research fellows

Jannick Dorresteijn, MD, MSc, PhD


Administrative staff

Margie Pinas

PhD students

Nicole Jaspers, MD
Monique van Kleef, MD
Cilie van het klooster, MD
Tamar de Vries, MD
Jean-Paul Vendeville, MD
Britt Heideman, MD
Steven Hageman, MD

Research nurses

Corina Joosten
Inge Klaassen
Ilona Heijnen

Nursing specialists

Corien Flint
Judith Wierdsma