Research theme: Cell Biology and Genetics
Genetics and Cell Biology are central topics for translational and fundamental research and for clinical innovation at Maastricht UMC+.
The research has a central role in:
Innovating the field of personalized diagnostics.
Providing an improvement in identifying and understanding personalized factors and mechanisms underlying individual risk for developing mental ill-health and mental and neurodegenerative disorders.
Forming an academic engine to improve treatment and preventative strategies in a personalized manner.
The state-of-the art facilities at the school for Mental Health and Neuroscience and across its divisions, departments and affiliated institutes allow us to innovate and make use of the top-notch facilities and expertise:
Genetic analyses including (single cell) sequencing methodology.
Experimental neuroscience, molecular epidemiology and system biology approaches including genomics, pharmacology, epigenomics, immunological mediators e.g. antibodies. transcriptomics, proteomics, lipidomics and metabolomics, using liquid biopsies (circulating, bound and exosome-based molecules), (in vivo) brain biopsies and post-mortem brain analyses from unprecedented human cohorts.
Experimental systems including:
- In vivo animal models with a wide behavioral and physiological testing site enabling deep phenotyping in animals (rodents, sheep, and zebrafish).
- In vitro human cell models (incl. inducible pluripotent stem cell technologies, cell-type specific immunological profiling, modelling blood-brain barrier, brain-on-a-chip, and ex vivo human neuronal cells from brain-biopsies), and
- In silico models (using computational modelling, system biology analyses and machine learning).
The research team comprise over 90 PhD students and staff members from a wide range of departments.
Our research is closely aligned with the clinical research themes of MHeNS. We have active research projects related to all our clinical pillars, with a particular track record in:
Mono-/oligogenic variants in neurology(e.g. epilepsy), pain medicine (small fiber neuropathy) and psychiatry (e.g. 22q1.1 del syndrome).
Polygenic and epigenetic contribution on psychosis, Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic pain.
Experimental neuro-psychopharmacology of depression, anxiety and cognition
Auto-immunity and immunological disturbances in neurological and psychiatric disorders.
preclinical evaluation of novel treatment strategies for autoimmune disorders of the central nervous system.
Genetic moderation and biological mediation of sensitivity to environmental risk (trauma, hypoxia, cannabis) factors in psychiatry.
Blood-barrier dysfunction in neurodegenerative disorders.
genetics of treatment response (e.g. pharmacogenetics in psychiatry).
Lipid changes associated to neurodegenerative diseases and treatments targeting lipids.
Research and Impact
The work of our researchers is embedded in national and international efforts to:
- Improve fundamental knowledge of factors and mechanisms underlying onset and course of illness.
- Increase fundamental knowledge on basis mechanism underlying brain function and dysfunction, and
- Improve the translation cycle from bed to bench, and vice versa from bench to bed.
- Improve and maintain well-being of patients and individuals at risk.
- Improve personalized medicine in relation to prevention, prediction, diagnosis and treatment.