PhD Blog

Arno Stellingwerf

Throughout his studies in Biomedical Sciences at Radboud University (Nijmegen), Arno has been fascinated by the role of proteins in disease. His scientific interest started way back in his youth, while watching the Dutch TV-show "Het Klokhuis", where his curiosity and eagerness to learn started blossoming.

Arno's current PhD project covers the role of fluid biomarkers of blood-brain barrier (BBB) dysfunction, under the supervision of professor Marcel Verbeek (Radboud UMC). In his project, he will study which markers reflect BBB damage in patient cohorts (AD, CAA, other dementias), in order to implement biomarker tests in clinical practise and monitor treatments.

As part of Pillar 3, Arno is a PhD student at Radboud UMC (Nijmegen) under the supervision of Marcel Verbeek. He started in March 2023.

"In this project, I'm able to stay in connection with the people for whom I actually started studying Biomedical Sciences in the first place; the patient. The social interaction gives me a lot of energy and stimulates my drive to work on the project goal."

Arno's current challenge is selecting the right proteins from a large protein pool that could be involved in the process of BBB dysfunction. Moreover, he is managing and assisting in the sample collection of CSF and blood serum. 

His next goal is to get started on the first selected potential biomarkers and their corresponding ELISA-kits. In the long term, his first great milestone would be to finish the sampling of his patient cohort and analyzing the selected biomarkers on these samples.

Get to know Arno

Best qualities:

"My resilience, which is driven by my stubbernness, enthusiasm and curiosity"

Scientific goals:

"Learn from others, and hopefully contribute to someone else's learning development at some point."

Room for growth:



Custodia, Antía, et al. "Biomarkers Assessing Endothelial Dysfunction in Alzheimer’s Disease." Cells 12.6 (2023): 962 .

Jannis Heuer

Jannis' scientific career started at Maastricht University, where he got his bachelor's degree in Psychology and wrote his thesis on the impact of machine learning on the diagnosis of AD. He pursued a research master at Maastricht University as well, where he focused on clinical & cognitive neuroscience, with a focus on drug development. For his thesis, he went abroad and perfomed experimental research at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.

Jannis' PhD project aims to discover novel targets for treatment at the neurovascular unit (NVU) at Amsterdam UMC, under the supervision of prof. dr. Elga de Vries. In his project, he will study the underlying molecular pathways and cellular interactions of the NVU, in order to discover novel biomarkers for NVU dysfunction in patients, which may lead to innovative intervention strategies.

"Our goal is to find commonalities by using an open and unbiased approach with a high degree of translatability. We will ensure this translatalibity by generating data from post-mortem brains and validate results in patient-derived in vitro and in vivo models of the BBB". Here, Jannis wants to generate datasets on different types of dementias, such as AD, CAA or FTD. The datasets that are generated attempt to represent the complexity of the disease by combining multiple dimensions of biology (i.e. transcripts, proteins, lipids).

As part of Pillar 3, Jannis is a PhD student at the lab of Elga de Vries at Amsterdam UMC. He started in March 2023.

By learning in detail about the underlying mechanisms of the BBB in neurodegenerative disease and aging, Jannis wants to take inspiration from this knowledge in order to apply it to real world applications. Ultimately, he aims the project to increase the quality of life.

Get to know Jannis

Best qualities:

"My strengths lie in general teamwork and project management. I aspire to be an empathic and motivating leader, where communication is of great importance. "

Scientific goals:

"Building a unique experise around my topic; to identify and characterize new treatment targets which is shared among different dementias. I would love to perform proof of concept studies later on!"

Room for growth:

"I want to build on my existing stkill set, but also build a new expertise as a scientist." 


Brase, Logan, et al. "Single-nucleus RNA-sequencing of autosomal dominant Alzheimer disease and risk variant carriers." Nature communications 14.1 (2023): 2314 

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