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Division 1

Obesity, Diabetes & Cardiovascular Health

Led by:  Patrick Schrauwen
Co-director:  Stef Kremers

Obesity is one of the major risk factors for the development of metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Lifestyle factors, such as exercise, cold exposure and healthy diets can help in preventing the negative consequences of obesity.

In Division 1 of NUTRIM, we try to understand how interventions that improve physical activity, diet and other lifestyle factors can improve metabolic health. To this goal, we have world-unique equipment to study human energy and substrate metabolism in detail. Using invasive and non-invasive techniques, we study how essential organs such as muscle, (brown) adipose tissue, liver and the heart are affected in overweight and type 2 diabetes. By performing human intervention studies, such as exercise training, weight loss or cold exposure, we then study the underlying mechanisms by which lifestyle improves metabolic health.

Our research is also directed at understanding why people are physically inactive and eat unhealthily. We need to answer these questions before we can help them in adopting healthier lifestyles. We develop intervention programmes together with relevant stakeholders and implement them in such a way that they are sustained over time. Think of preventive programs at elementary schools, in families, but also lifestyle coaching of adults with type 2 diabetes. Our goals are to make healthy choices easier, to assist people in changing their lifestyle in order to improve their quality of life and to reduce the public health impact of metabolic diseases.

The unique facilities to study human metabolism gives NUTRIM an optimal setting to perform translational research aimed at understanding the development of metabolic diseases. By translating the fundamental knowledge to the real-world setting, we aim to make the difference for individuals and society. Integrating knowledge from the body and the mind, and applying it to promote public health brings the excitement that drives us.

Division 1: Obesity, Diabetes & Cardiovascular Health
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Division 2

Liver & Digestive Health

Led by:  Steven Olde Damink – Profile page
Co-director:  Ronit Shiri Sverdlov – Profile page

Within Division 2 of NUTRIM, the main research focus is to provide novel insight into the pathophysiological processes of the gut and liver and translate these research findings to the clinic. Central disorders that are investigated within this division include (but are not restricted to) inflammatory bowel disease, liver failure, irritable bowel syndrome, cholestasis and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.

Research performed in this division encompasses human intervention studies, epidemiological and more fundamental in vivo and in vitro research. The availability of patient cohorts combined with research expertise in metabolism, immunity, epidemiology, surgery and microbiology allows us to integrate different perspectives on complex interactions between genetics and environment (such as diet) leading to pathologies. 

While the main research focus lies within the gut-liver axis, a secondary research goal of this division is to extrapolate research findings to related organ systems such as the cardiovascular or central nervous system. Additionally, Interorgan crosstalk (beyond the gut-liver axis) as well as the role of microbiota (derived from different locations of the human body) on physiology and different pathologies are investigated.

The close collaboration between epidemiologists, geneticists, basic scientists and clinicians as well as the proximity of the MUMC and Maastricht University strongly serve this division’s goal to perform translational research aiming to improve the diagnosis and therapy of the patient in the clinic. Our division generates novel approaches for the diagnosis (biomarkers) and treatment of gut-liver disorders.

Division 2: Liver & Digestive Health
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Division 3

Respiratory & Age-related Health

Led by:  Luc van Loon – Profile page
Co-director:  Frederik-Jan van Schooten – Profile page

Division 3 focusses on the ageing process and the related metabolic impairments and chronic diseases with a specific focus on respiratory diseases (COPD and lung cancer). We study the impact of changes experienced during life in lifestyle (smoking, physical (in)activity, (mal)nutrition) and the environment and their interaction with our genetic background. Healthy ageing is within our capacity and we aim to increase our understanding of the human ageing process (from in utero to old age) in various tissues to develop more effective strategies to halt or even reverse chronic disease progression and support healthy ageing.

Part of the research is etiological with the aim to understand the onset of disease with age and aims to identify those people with an enhanced risk for disease and (re-)hospitalization. We perform fundamental research in a clinical setting expanding the barriers for human metabolic research and allowing direct translation to the patient population, lowering both morbidity and mortality. The translational research in this division is truly from bench to bedside, ranging from the study of population cohorts, in vitro cell models to tailored clinical intervention studies within the hospital, in a rehabilitation setting or in the community.

Translating insights from muscle biology to personalized nutrition and exercise interventions is used to reverse or slow down the aging process and increase health and well-being in all disease phases.

Changing habits in diet, smoking and physical activity have been instrumental in the greater incidence and prevalence of chronic diseases. Our belief is that early development of chronic metabolic disorders can be prevented by an active, healthy lifestyle thereby supporting more active, healthy ageing. This knowledge will be applied to develop more effective strategies to add life to our years instead of years to our lives.

Division 3: Respiratory & Age-related Health

NUTRIM research centres around the following divisions

  • Division 1

    Obesity, Diabetes & Cardiovascular Health

    Dit is er niet
  • Division 2

    Liver & Digestive Health

    Dit is er niet
  • Division 3

    Respiratory & Age-related Health

    Dit is er niet