Master student research projects Department of Nephrology VUmc

1. Decline in kidney function and cardiovascular disease risk

Dr. ir. A.J. van Ballegooijen

The life span of individuals with chronic kidney disease is strongly reduced, and cardiovascular disease accounts for approximately half the deaths. In chronic kidney disease patients, the toxic uremic environment leads to disturbances in multiple interrelated hormones that regulate bone and mineral metabolism.

In our group, we study disturbances of vitamin D metabolism and phosphate homeostasis in relation to cardiovascular health with a specific focus on vascular calcification using observational and clinical invention studies. Further, we study nutritional determinants, novel biomarkers, different dialysis modalities to gain insight into cardiovascular disease mechanisms to discover novel therapies. A better understanding of these relationships may help to promote cardiovascular health and optimize care for chronic kidney disease patients.

Techniques: vitamin D metabolism, hyperphosphatemia, clinical studies, human observational studies, repeated echocardiography, long term follow-up; diabetes status, novel biomarkers, albuminuria.


Master student Research Projects department of Physiology VUmc

2. Perivascular adipose tissue in control

Assoc. prof. Etto Eringa

We study impairment of muscle and myocardial blood flow in obesity and their consequences for risk of type 2 diabetes and heart failure. Focal point of our research is the role of altered communication between perivascular adipose tissue and vascular endothelium.

Techniques: clinical studies, endothelium-specific transgenic mice, hypercaloric diet (man and mice), renal failure (mice), protein/RNA analysis of adipose and vascular tissue, glucose clamp (man and mice), contrast ultrasonography (man and mice), superresolution microscopy.

3. Vascular integrity and endothelial cells

Peter Hordijk / Igor Kovacevic

We study the molecular basis of vascular integrity. The research focus is on endothelial cells, the cells that line all blood vessels, and the machinery which controls their cell-cell contacts. This relates to control of cytoskeletal dynamics and protein degradation. Key proteins we are interested in are RhoGTPases and the enzymes that regulate their function. Our research combines biochemical and biophysical techniques with protein expression studies and high-resolution imaging of live endothelial cells.

Techniques: Endothelial cell isolation and culture; Western blotting; immunoprecipitation; cell transfection; siRNA studies; confocal microscopy; superresolution imaging; live cell imaging; expression of fluorescent proteins; biochemical assays for protein ubiquitylation; assays for endothelial integrity and vascular leakage; 2D and 3D flow models.

4. Long non-coding RNAs in cardiovascular disease

Reinier Boon

Most of the genome is transcribed in RNA, but only a fraction actually codes for protein. Our group studies the role of the so-called non-coding RNAs in cardiovascular biology. We particularly focus on long non-coding RNAs that are regulated during aging. We aim to unravel how individual non-coding RNAs regulate cardiovascular function, with the aim to identify non-coding RNAs that can be targeted therapeutically.

Techniques: Quantitative (real-time) PCR, RNA pulldown, RNA immunoprecipitation, cloning, deep sequencing analysis, advanced microscopy, siRNA transfection, gapmeR transfection, lentiviral overexpression, CRISPR-dCas9 overexpression tools.


Master student research projects Department of Pathology VUmc

Viral myocarditis and sudden death

Dr. Paul AJ Krijnen

Viral myocarditis (VM) is an inflammatory disease of the heart that is associated with acute and chronic heart failure and also with sudden death and arrhythmias. Previous studies have shown that the myocardial inflammatory infiltrate associates with sudden death. In mouse models of VM as well as patient material we want to investigate how the local (heart) and systemic (blood, spleen and bone marrow) inflammatory responses associate with sudden death through cardiac arrhythmias and myocardial infarction.

Techniques: Echocardiography of heart function and ECG of conscious in VM mice; Tissue analysis via (immuno)histochemistry immunofluorescence, Tissue/cell culture, Flow cytometry.