AGEM symposia 2019

AGEM symposium: “Complex genetics of metabolic disease”

March 15th 2019

Pakhuis de Zwijger, Amsterdam

On March 15, the first AGEM symposium of 2019 was held in the Pakhuis de Zwijger, Amsterdam. “Complex genetics of metabolic disease” successfully captured the interest of the audience, stimulating in depth discussions following each talk and along the coffee and lunch breaks.

Dr. Agata van der Klaauw, invited speaker from Cambridge Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, introduced us to the complex genetics of human obesity – how gene problems lead to mixed signals in the brain. Lisa Willemsen, PhD student at Amsterdam UMC, location AMC, talked about how, in diet – induced obesity, the impaired immune response of the peritoneal macrophages can be reversed by subsequent weight loss. Professor Ronald Wanders from Amsterdam UMC, location AMC, underlined the importance of the biochemical testing (including enzymology), and the need of awareness of their role in the (diagnostic of) genetic metabolic diseases, especially in the context of the current “omics era”. Professor Johan Auwerx, invited speaker from École Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne, shared his groups data on system genetics approaches in exploring mitochondria and aging.

PhD student Marte Molenaars from Amsterdam UMC, location AMC, talked about how mitochondrial and cytoplasmic ribosomes stoichiometric balance links two longevity pathways. “Men, microbes and mini-guts” presented by professor Cisca Wijmenga, invited speaker from University of Groningen, opened up the fascinating and complex world of the gut microbiome, the complex correlations with the human genome, and took the audience to the next research level: mini-guts on a chip.  Professor Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen, invited speaker from University of Copenhagen, talked about liver, lipids and cardiovascular disease, highlighting the importance of genetics in illness and the great informative value of biobanks. Antoine Rimbert, postdoctoral research scientist at University of Groningen, presented the path from genetic association studies to molecular mechanisms, with a focus on the locus 2q14. The scientific program was completed by Professor Koos Zwinderman, from Amsterdam UMC, location AMC, who talked about omics and big data: Multi omics-statistics in systems medicine.

AGEM symposium: “Hormones & Digestion”

June 6th 2019

ACTA-building, Amsterdam

On June 6th, 2019, the AGEM symposium “Hormones & Digestion” was held in the ACTA-building in Amsterdam. With a wide range of relevant topics covered, both fundamental and clinical scientific researchers were present. This resulted in interesting and thorough discussions after all given talks. The elaborate interaction between the speakers and the audience resulted in new fruitful ideas for future research and possibly even new collaborations.

The first session kicked off with an interesting talk by Daniel van Raalte on the metabolic effects of sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors. After a thorough discussion, Stan van de Graaf enlightened us on a more fundamental topic: the dynamic signaling of bile acids.
After the break, the focus changed to bone and digestion. Annegreet Veldhuis-Vlug told about the exciting and growing field of bone marrow adipocytes and how this related to disorders such as obesity and anorexia. Next, Stan Ursem presented on the interrelation between the bone-derived FGF23 and glucose metabolism.

In the subsequent section on gender differences in (digestive) disease, Annemieke Heijboer stressed with her presentation the importance of research in both genders in the whole medical research field. Daan van Velzen then showed us the changes in metabolism and body composition after gender affirming hormone therapy.

After the festive AGEM grant award ceremony, the symposium was concluded by the last session on intestinal hormones. First, professor Inge Depoortere gave an excellent key note lecture on the role of gastrointestinal hormones in the regulation of food intake. This was followed by Lotje van Ruiten, who presented her work on GLP-1 and the neuroendocrine control of feeding. Last, but not least, Katy van Galen gave us exciting preliminary results on striatal activity following the intragastric infusion of glucose and lipids. After, everyone had a toast on the successful symposium.

AGEM symposium: “Imagine the Image”

November 20th 2019

De Nieuwe Liefde, Amsterdam

On a brand new location in the heart of Amsterdam at De Nieuwe Liefde, the AGEM Symposium “Imagine the Image” was held on November 20th, 2019. Enlightening its attendees on the wide array of possibilities of imaging in gastroenterology and metabolism. The symposium was kicked off by Dr Karin Horsthuis (Abdominal radiologist, Department of Radiology, Amsterdam UMC, Amsterdam) who gave us a brief history of the development of radiology from the laborious beginnings to the state of the art specialism it has become today. Dr. Ir. Bram Coolen (Assistant professor, Preclinical & Translational MRI, Department of Biomedical Engineerings & Physics, Amsterdam UMC, Amsterdam) took over and told us more about the mechanism of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and about his preclinical studies on the cardiovascular system in mice using MRI. The third presentation was given by dr. Anouk Schrantee (Assistant professor, Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, Amsterdam UMC, Amsterdam), who has shown the attendees the multiple ways of using functional MRI in metabolic studies. The best studies stand or fall with a good study protocol; if you are interested in the effects of high caloric food on the reward system, should you use placebo or low caloric food as a control? She also demonstrated the multiple MRI facilities available, and the door is always open for researchers that would like to collaborate.

After the lunchbreak there was no time for an after-dinner dip to kick in as the enthusiastic dr. Luca Marciani, Assistant professor in Gastrointestinal MRI, Nottingham Digestive Diseases Centre took us on a trip to the University of Nottingham campus. As an authority in fMRI studies on fluids, food and gastrointestinal functions he taught us that aeriated drinks can increase gastric distension and decrease the hunger feeling, that patients about to undergo surgery should have a meal two hours before surgery to ensure optimal patient health and a stomach that is emptied sufficiently and that two kiwis a day might keep constipation away (since they are high in fibres as well as fluid), all demonstrated using MRI. Dr. Marciani also elaborated on a new technique to study bowel motility with MRI using small pills that patients have to swallow whole and which are easily visible because of their water and lipid properties. Prof. dr. Ivana Isgum (Professor AI and Medical Imaging, Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine Amsterdam UMC, Amsterdam) led us into the world of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and deep learning. In last technique the classifier is trained to learn and create meaningful representations from raw pixels of MRI, using each voxel. So far these techniques have made it possible to perform high quality CT-scans while reducing radiation dose and performing high quality MRIs while reducing the scan time. In endoscopy AI is already able to recognize small non obvious polyps better than endoscopists.  Prof. dr. Jan Booij (Nuclear Medicine Physician, Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, Amsterdam UMC, Amsterdam) talked about the research he and his team performed on Parkinson’s disease, using SPECT and PET to visualize the synaptic transmission and post-synaptic receptors of dopaministic cells in the striatum and substantia nigra. In a trial investigating deep brain stimulation (DBS) in patients with obsessive compulsive disorder a peculiar discovery was made; A patient with OCD and concomitant type 2 diabetes significantly improved after DBS with regards to the diabetes with a significant reduction of daily insulin intake. Following this discovery a new study proposal was set up with  GLP‐1 receptor agonist therapy in Parkinson’s disease, and it was demonstrated that GLP‐1 receptor agonist may slow down disease progression. 

Dr. Maarten Jacobs (gastroenterologist and head of the gastroenterology training program at the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Amsterdam UMC, Amsterdam) taught us about current and new techniques in endoscopy. With a  broad spectrum of pathology in the intestine, colour is used to enhance abnormalities on camera. In the Netherlands, optic filters are used in daily practice with narrow band imaging and flexible spectral imaging colour enhancement, although chromendoscopy (dye based couloring) is also a possibility. Confocal laser endomicroscopy  and endocytoscopy are techniques that permit high resolution assessment of the mucosa. Prof. dr. Frits de Koning (Professor Immunology, principle investigator, Immunohematology and Blood Transfusion LUMC, Leiden) proceeded to imaging the immunological character of intestinal cells. In the last six years, Frits and his group took flow cytometry to the next level with the utilization of mass cytometry by time of flight (CyTOF). The use of metal conjugated antibodies enables  the utilization of over 40 different markers. Hierarchical Stochastic Neighbour Embedding is used illustrate the tremendous amount of data obtained with CyTOF. Dr. Marko Popovic (Scientist for Microscopy and Image Analysis, Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology (MCBI), Amsterdam UMC, Amsterdam) closed the day with a presentation on cutting edge new microscopy techniques offered at the MBCI, which has recently become a Nikon centre of excellence. These new techniques allow for light sheet microscopy and high resolution microscopy with whole slide scanning and scanning of live cells among other things.