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Overview John van Swieten

John van Swieten

(Early) career
John van Swieten received his PhD in Medicine at the University of Utrecht in 1992 for his thesis “Periventricular leuco-encephalopathy in the elderly: vascular dementia revisited”. He has been a staff member at the department of Neurology of the Erasmus University Medical Center since September 1992. His research has focused on several aspects of dementia, especially frontotemporal dementia (FTD). He has been studying clinical, genetic and pathological aspects of FTD in a large nation-wide cohort of FTD over the last 20 years. He has a longstanding collaboration with the department of Clinical Genetics, with whom he has identified mutations in the MAPT gene in hereditary FTD in 1998. Moreover, he has taken part in an international consortium, which identified hexanucleotide repeat expansions in the C9orf72 gene, as the most common genetic defect in FTD and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He was also involved in the identification of genetic defects in other neurodegenerative disorders as principal or co-investigator (FGF14, DJ-1), and carried out a large number of pathological studies on dementia. He participated in the Rotterdam Study and the GRIP study on epidemiology and determinants of dementia, Parkinson’s disease and white matter lesions. He was the initiator in the establishment of the Alzheimercenter zuidwest Nederland in Erasmus MC and Havenziekenhuis Rotterdam. In July 1, 2011, he was appointed as professor on Presenile Dementia at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam.

Recent fields of interest
He has since been working on identifying additional genetic defects/ factors in dementia and related disorders by whole exome sequencing in a large number of small families. To unravel the pathophysiology of C9orf72-FTD, he has been developing a transgenic mouse model in close collaboration with Dr. R. Willemsen, Clinical Genetics. He is working on a proteomics study on C9orf72 human brains with Prof. A.B. Smit, VU Medical Center. Recently, he has been awarded a Bluefield grant to continue his research examining the presymptomatic stage of FTD. To share some of his expertise, prof. van Swieten has become a member of the Neurology Editorial Board.

Goals and ambitions
Prof. van Swieten aims to enlarge the expertise of the Alzheimercenter zuidwest Nederland and improve on diagnostics on an (inter)national level. His ultimate goal is to contribute to the development of an effective treatment preventing or delaying dementia, in particular bv-FTD and Primary Progressive Aphasias (PPAs).


1992 PhD Neurology, University of Utrecht, the Netherlands
1989 Specialist Neurology, University of Utrecht, the Netherlands
1980 MD Medicine, University of Gent, Belgium

Professional experience and research

1989 – 1992 PhD thesis Vascular Dementia, promoter Prof. dr. J. van Gijn
1992 – 1999 Assistant Professor Neurology, Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam.
1993 – 2010 Genetic-epidemiological, pathological research on neurodegenerative  diseases, FTD, Alzheimer and Parkinson’s disease
1999 – 2010 Associate Professor Neurology, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam
2011   Professor Neurogenetics, VUmc, Amsterdam
2012   Professor Neurology, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam