• PhD, Nutritional modulation of DNA repair, Maastricht University, The Netherlands
• Recognized Toxicologist within Europe, via The Netherlands Society of Toxicology (NVT)
• MSc, Biomedical Sciences/ Biological Health Sciences, trans national University of Limburg (tUL = a collaboration between Hasselt University in Belgium and Maastricht University in The Netherlands).
• Member of NuGO (a European-funded Network of Excellence, the full title of which is 'The European Nutrigenomics Organisation: linking genomics, nutrition and health research')
• Member of The Netherlands Society of Toxicology (NVT)
Awarded ECETOC Young Scientist Award Prize, for toxicological research into mechanisms and risk assessment, at the EUROTOX 2006/6 CTDC Congress.
Poster title: “Redox-dependent regulation of nucleotide excision repair.”
Awarded the NUGO exchange grant for an exchange project of three months to the University of Oslo in the summer 2006.
Awarded the Mutagenesis – Oxford University Press poster prize at the 35th Annual Meeting of the European Environmental Mutagen Society, July 2005, Kos island, Greece.
Poster title: “The role of Lys63-linked polyubiquitin chains in repair and mutagenicity of benzo[a]pyrene-diol-epoxide DNA adducts.”
Awarded the poster prize at the AIO/OIO days June 2005 of the Dutch Society for Toxicology (NVT). Poster title: “A modified comet-assay to assess nucleotide excision repair.”
Awarded the distinction Cum Laude for the Master’s degree.
Awarded the prize for the best graduation research report within Molecular Life Sciences Translational University Limburg, academic year 2003-2004 Project title: “The role of polyubiquitin chains in repair and mutagenicity of benzo[a]pyrene induced DNA damage.”
Dietary habits are recognized as an important exogenous factor that may influence human ageing and vitality in various ways. Therefore, I am interested in;
• Nutritional modulation of DNA repair. Effect of nutrition on an individual’s base excision (BER) and nucleotide excision repair (NER) capacity.
• Nutrient-gene interactions. Investigations into the joint effect of genetic and dietary factors on phenotypic responses will be helpful in the assessment of susceptible groups and selection of subgroups among the general population that will benefit more from specific interventions.
• Nutritional and epigenetic alterations. Modifying methylation of CpG islands (short stretches of DNA that contain a high frequency of the CG sequence) in a gene’s promoter regions can alter gene expression and lead to changes in an individual’s phenotype. Folate as a methyl donor can alter DNA methylation and thereby influence gene expression. Other dietary compounds like vitamin C, zinc and Se were reported to alter DNA methylation as well.
Exposure to xenobiotic agents or specific dietary compounds early in live can build in susceptibility to pathological diseases later in life. Moreover, epigenetic changes in DNA methylation influence both gene transcription and the DNA repair capacity, and thus imprint susceptibility to DNA damage.
Therefore, current research includes nutrition and ageing studies;
• Focusing on the modulation of DNA repair in the ageing brain and trying to translate this to the pathology of late onset Alzheimer’s disease.
• Studying the effect of nutrition on DNA methylation and DNA repair capacity; in the brain of piglets and mice (from birth till older age), as well as in other human and animal tissues.
• Looking at the interaction between DNA methylation and oxidative stress/DNA damage. Does DNA repair have a role in this interaction?
Active member of the scientific staff of the Human Nutrition Research Centre, Newcastle University.
Guiding and supervision of students within the lab.