Another successful PhD on ALS! On Thursday 20th of October Renata Vieira de Sa defended her PhD thesis “Repeat expansions in Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Lessons from patient-derived models” at the Academiegebouw of Utrecht University. In her PhD thesis, Renata studied the contribution of C9orf72 and Ataxin2 repeat expansion to ALS using different patient-derived models including brain organoids and 2D motor neurons. She was supervised by promotors Jeroen Pasterkamp and Leonard van den Berg. This PhD on ALS further solidifies UMC Utrecht Brain Center as a leader in the field. Her work on human organoid models was instrumental in developing the cellular diversity. Renata continues her career as a post doctoral researcher at uniQure B.V. and the OrganoVIR labs in the AMC where she will continue developing advanced human models.
“It was a pleasure to defend my thesis after working on this topic for so long! It was a great way to conclude my time at the brain Center ” Renata
Once again, congratulations!
On Tuesday October 18, Christiaan Huffels successfully defended his PhD thesis, titled “Tracing the signals: Unravelling neuron-glia interactions in Alzheimer’s disease”, at the Academiegebouw of Utrecht University. In his thesis, Christiaan examined the role of astrocytes and microglia in the early development of Alzheimer’s disease using a multidisciplinary approach, combining the use of slice electrophysiology, calcium imaging, immunohistochemistry, behavioral analyses, and pharmacological interventions. He was supervised by promotor Prof. dr. Elly Hol and co-promotor Dr. Jinte Middeldorp. For his next career step, he will continue his work as a postdoc in the lab of Prof. dr. Elly Hol at the University Medical Center Utrecht Brain Center, where he will focus on developing functional assays on human cell culture systems.
“I enjoyed working on this interesting topic for 4.5 years and I am grateful to have ended it in such a great way! It was a great day and I’m happy to continue working in the Hol lab to further develop my skills as a researcher” Christiaan Huffels
The work for his thesis was performed at the Translational Neuroscience department. His output include articles titled “Aß Pathology and Neuron-Glia Interactions: A Synaptocentric View” published at the Neurochemical Research and “Systemic Injection of Aged Blood Plasma in Adult C57BL/6 Mice Induces Neurophysiological Impairments in the Hippocampal CA1” published at Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. We are looking forward to his contribution to the scientific research.
PhD defence is a special occasion celebrating not only the graduation of a student but also the society gaining a new highly trained specialist. Last week, Andreia Duarte and Lieke van de Haar of the Pasterkamp lab have defended their PhD thesis with two in-person PhD defences at the Academiegebouw of the Utrecht University.
In her work “The Road Less Travelled: Exploring the profile and functions of non-coding RNAs in brain disease, Andreia has explored how circRNAs and tRNAs may facilitate the brain’s response in medial Temporal lobe epilepsy. She has started her new position as an R&D scientist at the VectorY.
“It was a great closure of 4.5 years of work with lots of research, learning, travelling, fun, ending in such an unforgettable day.” Andreia
Lieke built her PhD on a combination of wet lab experiments and computational tools. Her thesis titled “Isles of Molecules” defines the Habenula development at a single cell level and a new mechanism of axonal guidance. We wish her best luck in her new position as a postdoc at the Rajewsky lab at MDC, Germany.
“ It was a great day to celebrate 4,5 years of work at the University Medical Center Utrecht. I very much enjoyed the scientific discussions and having colleagues, friends and family around.” Lieke
On 14th of October, Marieke G. Verhagen defended her PhD thesis titled ‘The multifunctional role of Semaphorin6A during brain development and disease. Moving forward with reverse signaling’, UMC Utrecht Brain Center Universiteit Utrecht.
“I am happy and grateful for this experience! In the past 5 years I studied early brain development and the role of axon guidance molecule Semaphorin6A. Without a doubt we have moved forward characterizing the complex functions of this molecule.”
She has recently started her new job as a postdoctoral fellow in the group of Lynette Lim VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research.
“Many thanks to my promotor Jeroen Pasterkamp, co-promotor Geert Ramakers, committee members Joost Verhaagen, Freek Hoebeek, Erik Storkebaum, J. Peter H. Burbach, Manon Benders, and Roger Adan. Paranimfs Suzanne Lemstra, PhD and Anna Aster De Ruiter. “
Photography by Maarten de Kok.