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MODEM Graduate School

November 9th, VU Amsterdam

On November 9th, we had our first edition of the MODEM Graduate School at VU Amsterdam. In this edition, the theme was the Clinical Diagnosis of Dementia. At the Graduate School, we invite speakers for an interactive talk about their work relating to the theme. Every edition, a new theme is highlighted. In this edition, dr. Niek Verwey (MCL), dr. Nina Fransen (AUMC), and dr. Inge Verberk (AUMC) were given the stage.

Helena Durrant (PhD student): "My main takeaway was just how varied the clinical presentation of dementia can be and thus the complexities of determining a diagnosis. Although I will not directly study many of the biomarkers mentioned, it was useful for me to understand the current methods of diagnosis and then consider how, in the context of my project, subtle BBB breakdown may one day be included as an early biomarker in this complex process. Of course, it was great to continue making connections with the other MODEM “graduates” and there were lots of engaging discussions after each presentation. I am thoroughly looking forward to the next graduate school meeting!“

Group picture after the Graduate School, during lunch at LIVING Café, VU

Annual Consortium Meeting

October 19th 2023, Leerhotel het Klooster in Amersfoort

On October 19th, we held our first annual consortium meeting, where we came together at Leerhotel het Klooster in Amersfoort. Our PhD students, more senior reseachers and PIs all came together to discuss our progress so far.

Our PhD students presented their projects, where some have been working on since the kick-off meeting in March this year, and some just have started a few months later. In the afternoon, we had the pleasure to hear presentations from dr. Niek Verwey and dr. Katherine Bassil.

Verwey is a biochemist and practising neurologist at Medical Center Leeuwarden, and has a great interest in both academia and the clinic. Together with Verwey, we are setting up the MODEM Graduate School, a biannual gathering for PhD students with the aim to connect their research to the clinic and the patient. 

Bassil is a postdoctoral researcher at Julius Center Utrecht, where she is specialized in neuroethics. Within MODEM, Bassil will set up the e-MODEM study, where she will investigate the scientific and societal rationale of researchers who work with different models in dementia research.

We look back on a day filled with great discussions, new ideas, and thought-provoking presentations by our colleagues!

Read more about our kick-off meeting on LinkedIn.

Group picture of the MODEM consortium on October 19, 2023, at the consortium meeting.

Veni grant awarded to MODEM researcher Femke Feringa

August 4, 2023

The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded Veni funding to 188 promising researchers, including Femke Feringa (CNCR at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam). This will allow the her to further develop their own research ideas over the next three years.

In the Veni-research project Femke will study how the Alzheimer risk mutation APOE4 contributes to senescence (cell aging) in human astrocytes generated from induced pluripotent stem cells. As senescence might contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, targeting senescent cells in the brain can be a promising therapeutic strategy in the future.

Cell aging in Alzheimer's disease: the key to therapy

"Around 40 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease (AD) worldwide. Fundamental understanding of the origin of this disease is still lacking and hence no curative treatment is currently available. Carriers of the risk mutation APOE4 have a 14-fold increased chance of developing AD. In addition, accumulating senescent (aged) cells have been suggested to contribute to AD development. In this study, I will generate astrocytes from human induced pluripotent stem cells to study how the AD risk mutation APOE4 contributes to senescence in these supportive brain cells. The mechanistic insights obtained can be used to target senescence as a therapeutic strategy for AD."

Senescence is one of the main hallmarks of aging, characterized by irreversible cell cycle exit and a pro-inflammatory secretory phenotype. The term senescence was originally defined in the field of oncology, yet an increase in senescent cells has also been described in the AD brain. Importantly, removal of senescent cells in AD mouse models alleviated AD pathology suggesting a role in disease development. The major AD risk gene APOE4 (Apolipoprotein) alters lipid and immune metabolism in glia, yet it is unknown how this mutation contributes to AD development. The preliminary results of Femke's work hint at the interesting possibility that E4 compared to E3 (the reference allele) contributes to senescence induction in astrocytes.

Read more on the website of Amsterdam Neuroscience

Kick-off meeting MODEM!

March 28, 2023

On March 1st, we had our first annual meeting of MODEM, the kick-off! In this meeting, all researchers, PhD students, postdocs, and other involved staff was gathered at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. On this day, we got together with the different research groups, and presented our work and future projects with our colleagues. It was an inspiring day, with many great things and exiting projects to come!

Read more about our kick-off meeting on LinkedIn, Amsterdam Neuroscience, and CNCR.