Fellowship for research talents 

Lof der Geneeskunde Fellows 2017
Fellowship for (f.l.t.r.) Dr. Wendy Koster, Dr. Rebekka Schneider and Dr. Stefan Barakat. Dr. Laura Zwaan was in the USA for her research.

During In Praise of Medicine on Friday, 6 October in De Doelen in Rotterdam, four researchers were placed in the spotlight. Dean Prof. Hans van Leeuwen of the Board of Directors: "I was very pleased to give out four fellowships to these young, talented scientists. Their proposals are selected on bases of scientific quality, international experience and relevance for people and society."

The Erasmus MC program offers young, promising researchers who have gained their PhDs a four-year research Fellowship with a total budget of  € 400,000, consisting of € 200,000 subsidy and € 200,000 matching. The program is meant for clinicians as well as for non-clinical researchers. See the winners below.

Pregnancy, heart
Dr. Wendy Koster, of the department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, studies pregnancies that are a test to the heart and blood vessels of the mother. Already in the first week of the pregnancy, the body is adapting. There are complication in one out of ten pregnancies, such as high blood pressure, eclampsia and growth retardation of the unborn baby. Koster wants to get more insight in why this happens and what the role is of heart and blood vessels.  She will monitor the health of a number of pregnant women and follow the development of the placenta with a three dimensional echoscope and virtual reality techniques.

Development of the brain
Dr. Stefan Barakat, of the department of Clinical Genetics, focuses in his research on the genes that are involved in the development of the brain. If there is a disturbance in the development of the brain, it can usually be explained in 50% of the cases only. Barakat is looking at other parts of the genome, not genes, to see if they play a role. He developed a technique to locate these regulating elements. He will rear stem cells into brain cells and make chunks of these cells to grow a sort of mini brain. With this technique he can discover which elements are disturbing the development of the brain.

Dr. Laura Zwaan, of Research & Education, studies the art of diagnostics. She says: "It is quite remarkable that after asking the patient a few questions, the doctor usually knows what it is. Many times, such a quick diagnosis is accurate, sometimes it is not. According to some, doctors should think slower so they can include all information and make less mistakes, but Zwaan doesn't agree. "Also without this crucial information, a doctor can come to a correct diagnosis. She wants to compare the process of selecting information resulting in correct and incorrect diagnoses. Zwaan is affiliated to the Erasmus-intituut iMERR which conducts research into improving the medical curriculum. Her fellowship is funded by the Erasmus MC Friends Foundation.

Bone marrow disease
Dr. Rebekka Schneider, of the department of Hematology, conducts research on primary myelofibrosis (PMF). Schneider and her colleagues recently identified Gli1+ cells as the fibrosis-driving cells in bone marrow fibrosis. In her follow-up research, Schneider wants to analyze the underlying mechanisms by conducting research into the interactions of these cells with mutated blood stem cells. This should result into more insight in the step-wise transformation of the cells that are responsible for the fibrosis influenced by these mutated blood stem cells.

Fellowships 2017

Date published: 11 October 2017