Team members


Gert-Jan van Ommen - BBMRI-ERIC


Prof. em. dr. Gert-Jan B. van Ommen has headed the Department of Human Genetics of Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) from 1992-2012. His reseach interests are the application of genomics technology in basic and translational study of rare and common disease. He established the Leiden Genome Technology Center (LGTC, a national genomics facility), the Center for Medical Systems Biology (CMSB, a genomics research/infrastructure consortium), was a founding member in 2007 of the European Biobanking Infrastrucure BBMRI (later to become BBMRI-ERIC ) and in 2009 of BBMRI-NL which he directed from 2009-14.. He has a great interest in ELSI aspects of Genome science and in public and professional communication. He is Editor-in-chief of the European Journal of Human Genetics, was past president of HUGO (1998-2000) and of the European (2003-4) and Dutch (1993-2000) Societies of Human Genetics. He also was National Coordinator or Ophanet, His  group pioneered the exon-skipping approach for therapy of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, currently FDA-approved. He is still active in the biobanking field, has published ca 600 papers and supervised 52 PhD candidates.

Arfan Ikram - WP2

Professor and department head of Epidemiology, and principal investigator of the Rotterdam Study, Erasmus MC Rotterdam

Professor Ikram completed his medical studies in 2005 and obtained an MSc degree in Clinical Epidemiology in 2003. He then embarked on a PhD, which he defended in 2009. After a short postdoc period and a year of clinical work at Radiology, professor Ikram finally made a permanent switch to pursue a full-time career in research at the end of 2010.

Professor Ikram’s interests in epidemiology lie in neurological disorders, especially dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. He is interested in the earliest origins of these diseases and how the brain is affected in structure and function during the preclinical phase. Furthermore, he has a specific methodological interest in questions regarding causality in observational data.

Within BBMRI, professor Ikram is involved in work package 2 and represents the Rotterdam Study.

Eline Slagboom - WP2


Prof. Dr. P. Eline Slagboom, biologist, is head of Molecular Epidemiology at the Leiden University Medical Center. Studies in her group are aimed at the identification of biomarkers and causal pathways for metabolic health, age-related disease and longevity. The section of Molecular Epidemiology  is embedded in the department of Medical Statistics and Bioinformatics. Focus of the research in the past 10 years is on genomic determinants (genetic, genomic, epigenetic), biomarker, functional genomic and intervention studies of healthy/unhealthy aging and longevity in humans. In addition to the focus on ageing, the group has developed expertise specifically in the field of osteoarthritis and epigenetic epidemiology. Slagboom is PI of the Leiden Longevity Study, chair of the Medical Research Profile on Aging at LUMC and has a leading role in large consortia within ageing research. She was co-director of the Netherlands Consortium for Healthy Ageing, in the board of large scale EU collaborative research projects (GEHA) and PI of a large scale collaborative EU project (IDEAL: Integrated research on DEvelopmental determinants of Aging and Longevity).  She is member of various boards and scientific bodies, among which BBMRI.Nl (Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure) in The Netherlands. She organised the infrastructure for national efforts in metabolomics (25 cohorts) in BBMRI together with professors Boomsma and Van Duijn. Furthermore she is chair of DUSRA – Dutch Society for Research on Ageing and Section Editor of Aging Cell.

Aad van der Lugt - WP3 / BBMRI-ERIC

Hoogleraar neuroradiologie en hoofd/halsradiologie bij het Erasmus MC

Prof. Dr. Aad van der Lugt is Professor in Neuroradiology, and Head-Neck Radiology. He graduated at the Erasmus Medical School in 1988. For three years he was a resident in Surgery and Intensive care in Tilburg and Eindhoven, respectively. He received his PhD degree from the Erasmus University in 1996 for the thesis "Intravascular ultrasound: evaluation and clinical application". 

From 1996 till 2002 he was resident at the department of Radiology at the Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam. Van der Lugt heads the neuroradiological research program since 2002 and is member of the research committee of the department of Radiology. He is subspecialised in Neuroradiology and Head and Neck Radiology.

His main clinical interests are neurovascular disease and head and neck oncology. He is active member of the multidisciplinary working group on Head and Neck Cancer in the Erasmus MC. 

His research focuses on vascular imaging (CTA/MRA) with emphasis on the visualization of atherosclerotic disease in the carotid artery with ultrasound, CT and MRI. The main goal is to find imaging characteristics that are related to increased risk of ischemic stroke.

More recently, his research work focuses also on imaging biomarkers in large population-based studies.

Hilleke Hulshoff Pol - WP 3


Prof. Dr. Hilleke E. Hulshoff Pol is Professor of neuroscience at University Medical Center Utrecht. She completed her MS degree in psychophysiology with Rien Verbaten in Utrecht (1987), her internship in neuropsychology and neuroimaging with Nelson Butters at the University of California in San Diego (1988), and subsequently her PhD degree in Utrecht (September 25, 1995) with Jan van Ree (neuropharmacology), Max Viergever (imaging), and Cees Tulleken (neurosurgery). Topic of her thesis was memory processes in the frontal cortex of the human brain. Between 1996 and 2006 she set up and headed the brain imaging research lab at the Department of Psychiatry in Utrecht.

Her research focuses on structural and functional brain plasticity throughout life in health and in psychiatric disease, and the influences of genes and environment on brain plasticity. For this purpose she studies patients and healthy individuals and their (twin) family members, using magnetic resonance imaging at (ultra) high field. She has received a VIDI award from the Netherlands Scientific Organization NWO, and a High Potential award from the Utrecht University. Her work was published in over 180 publications.

Wiro Niessen - WP3

Professor in Biomedical Image Analysis at Erasmus MC, Rotterdam Professor at Delft University of Technology

Prof. Dr Wiro Niessen is full professor in Biomedical Image Processing at Erasmus MC, Rotterdam where he leads the Biomedical Imaging Group Rotterdam ( and at Delft University of Technology at the faculty of Applied Sciences.

His interest is in the development, validation and implementation of quantitative image analysis methods in clinical practice and biomedical research, in linking imaging and genetics data, radio(geno)mics, and image guided interventions. Focus areas are improved diagnosis and prognosis of neurodegenerative and cardiovascular disease, and treatment guidance in oncology, by developing and using advanced medical image analysis and machine learning methods.

Wiro Niessen is Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging and Elsevier’s Medical Image Analysis. He served as a Guest Editor on two Special Issues on Model-Based Image Analysis, and Growth and Motion Analysis of the IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging, on a Special Issue on Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention of Medical Image Analysis, and on a special issue on mathematical methods in biomedical image analysis in the International Journal of Computer Vision.

He has (co)-authored over 230 publications, abstracts excluded, in the fields of computer vision, medical image analysis and image guided surgery, of which over 90 are in peer-reviewed international journals, and of which 5 received best paper awards.

In April 2018, Wiro Niessen became Chief Technology Officer of Health-RI, because he firmly believes that a dedicated national infrastructure for biomedical data storage, access, and analysis is instrumental for high quality health research and for achieving innovations in the healthcare domain.

Folkert van Kemenade - WP4 / BBMRI-ERIC

Prof. Dr Folkert J. van Kemenade is professor of Pathology and head of the pathology department at Erasmus University Medical Center. Previously, he was pathologist at the VUmc with special areas of interest endocrinology, cytopathology and orthopedics. He was a coordinating pathologist for cervical cancer screenings in the mid-west region of the Netherlands for more than 12 years. He has been involved with research trials on Human Papilloma Virus at the VUmc and published more than 80 scientific papers.

Gerlof Valk - WP 4


Professor Dr. Gerlof D. Valk is Internist-endocrinologist in the Department of Endrocine Oncology at the University Medical Center Utrecht and professor of endocrinology with emphasis on endocrine tumors. He is head of section endocrinology, program director endocrinology residency.

Endocrinology and endocrine oncology are the main focus of the clinical activities of Gerlof Valk. (Neuro-) endocrine tumors diagnosis, treatment and follow-up, care for patients with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (MEN) and the standardization and continuous improvement of the national care for patients with MEN are his specific areas of expertise. Epidemiologic and translational research within the field of MEN related (pancreatic) neuroendocrine tumors is his main research focus including innovative treatment strategies and personalized cancer care.

He is Scientific director of the Parelsnoer Institute (PSI) and national coordinator of the European Reference Network (ERN) Rare Endocrine Conditions.

Michel Wouters - WP 4


Dr. Michel W.J.M. Wouters is surgeon at the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI) specialized in thoracic oncology and melanoma surgery. He is involved in various quality of care projects to improve cancer treatment on a regional, national and international level:
- President of Dutch Federation of Oncologic Specialties (SONCOS)
- Co-founder and head of the scientific bureau of DICA (Dutch Institute for Clinical Auditing)
- Dutch Lung Surgery Audit: member of scientific committee
- Co-founder of Dutch Melanoma Treatment Registry (DMTR)
- Member of the editorial board of the Journal of Surgical Oncology
- Quality of Cancer Care taskforce: multidisciplinary working group on restructuring Cancer Care in the Netherlands; Koningin Wilhelminafonds (KWF)
- 'Concentration of Esophageal cancer surgery project' Comprehensive Cancer Center Leiden awarded with 'Zorgvernieuwingsprijs Nederland 2007' 

Stefan Willems - WP 4


Dr Stefan M. Willems was trained in medicin (2003 cum laude Catholic University Leuven) with a PhD in molecular pathology (2010, Leiden University) and specialized in pathology (2011, LUMC). After postdoc positions at Harvard Medical School (Gygilab) and NKI  (Bernardslab) he has been working as a pathologist with special interest in molecular pathology and diagnostics. He is co-director of the molecular pathology lab in the University Medical Center Utrecht. He is associate professor in pathology and head of the molecular head and neck cancer line within the UMC Utrecht (1 postdoc, 8 PhDs). He is also affiliated with the department of pathology of the NKI-AvL and performs here translational head and neck research. He is board member of the PALGA Foundation.

Jan-Willem Boiten - WP5

Program manager Health-RI, TraIT & Data4lifescience at Lygature

Jan-Willem Boiten received his PhD in organic chemistry (computer-aided synthesis methods) at the University of Nijmegen in 1995. Subsequently, he joined the pharmaceutical industry in several project management and other managerial positions within research informatics. In 2011, Jan-Willem joined the Center for Translational Molecular Medicine (CTMM; now Lygature) to become the program manager for the TraIT (Translational research IT) project, a national IT infrastructure for storing, sharing, and analyzing translational research data. Next to his role in TraIT, Jan-Willem is coordinating the research IT collaboration between the Dutch UMCs, Data4LifeSciences, and is part of the management team for the overarching infrastructure for health research in The Netherlands, Health-RI.

Within BBMRI-NL, Jan-Willem is co-leading WP5 (Common Services for IT) with a specific focus on the integration of the BBMRI-NL services into the Health-RI services.

Dr. Jeroen Beliën is a computer scientist (medical informatics) with special interest in image processing and image analysis within the field of cancer research. After obtaining his university degree in medical informatics at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam he completed his PhD on "Image analysis of proliferation related phenomena in pathology" at the department of Pathology of the Vrije Universiteit University Medical Center. He currently pursues his research career at the same department as associate professor. He focuses on bioinformatics and high throughput image processing applications using state of the art imaging equipment.

Besides his research he is involved in the Dutch Pathology network. He is/was (joint) project/co lead for several IT projects locally e.g. setting up a translational research IT infrastructure to facilitate translational research within VUmc, as well as (inter)nationally: CTO of, the Dutch Techcentre for Lifesciences, work package lead of “Harmonisation of IT processes and architecture” of the Data4lifescience program as well as co-lead of the BBMRI-NL2.0 “Common IT services”, the Dutch national facility to collect, manage and reuse biomedical samples, images, and data.

In the first quarter of 2018, ZonMw asked him to analyse current standards and gaps for optimal data management of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) data according to the FAIR principles (in Dutch).
List of recent publications of Jeroen Beliën

Morris Swertz - WP 5


Dr. Morris Swertz is head of the Genomics Coordination Center (GCC) and associate professor at the faculty of medical sciences at the UMCG in Groningen. Morris Swertz was awarded an NWO-VIDI grant for a proposal on “Scalable ‘big data’ methods towards personalized genome diagnostics”.

He advises the BBMRI-NL steering committee, lead of the Dutch biobank catalogue and the EU-BioMedBridges catalogue working group.

Jasper Bovenberg - WP6

Legal Pathways Institute for Health and Bio-Law

Jasper A. Bovenberg, JD, LLM, Ph.D, is a practicing lawyer, admitted to the Bars of The Netherlands and New York; he counsels on all aspects of medicine’s perennial pursuit of cure, care and prevention.  

After twelve years in general and corporate finance practice with major law firms in the US and the Netherlands, handling bankruptcies, mergers, initial public offerings (AFC Ajax N.V.) and pharmaceutical litigation, he took a sabbatical to write his PhD on ownership of DNA. To combine his interest in science and his sense of justice, he has specialised in life sciences law.  

In addition to representing patient organizations, tissue banks, academic medical centres, and industry, in and out of court, Bovenberg acts/acted as legal counsel for the OECD, the Human Genome Organisation (“HUGO”) and Sage BioNetworks (USA) and served on the IRBs of the Dutch Cancer Institute and the Netherlands Pathology Archives.  

He currently serves as legal counsel to Biobanking and Biomolecular Research Infrastructure (BBMRI) Netherlands and as Co-Director of the BBMRI European Research Infrastructure (ERIC) Common Services for Ethical, Social and Legal issues and is an active member of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health.  

He is the founder of the Legal Pathways Institute for Health and Bio-Law, which is a partner in a number of EU tissue and biobanking projects (BBMRI EU, Tiss.EU, BioSHaRE, BBMRI LPC, EU CelLex) and the creator of a number of ‘hands on’ legal apps. He is the author of Property Rights in Blood, Genes & Data: Naturally Yours? and has published in Nature Biotechnology, Science and the British Medical Journal.

Marjanka Schmidt - WP6

Associate Professor (Group Leader), Genetic Epidemiologist, Netherlands Cancer Institute

Dr Schmidt is a genetic epidemiologist. Her research line focuses on the effects of genetic variants on risk of breast cancer subtypes, prognosis and long-term outcome of breast cancer, combining the areas of epidemiological and genetic research. One major promise is that advances in the genetics area will lead to precision prevention and medicine, where preventive and therapeutic interventions for complex diseases can be individually tailored to a person's genetic profile. Dr Schmidt’s group aims to contribute to the genome-based applications in health care practice by elucidating the role of germline variants in breast cancer risk and prognosis by molecular and genetic epidemiological studies, as well as addressing ethical, legal and societal aspects of genomics.

Dr Schmidt is responsible for the ELSI (ethical legal and social issues) component of BBMRI, including the ELSI Servicedesk. Dr Schmidt is also the secretary of the COREON (Committee Regulation Research), a subcommittee of the Federa.