Academic Rank:
Assistant Professor, UBC
Investigator, BC Children’s Hospital
Affiliation(s):
BC Children’s and Women’s Hospital

Academic background

  • PhD. Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.  2014
  • BSc.  Saxion Hogeschool Ijselland, Deventer,The Netherlands. 2002

Research Interest

My research program aims to better understand how the immune system can be used to treat childhood diseases. In children with cancer, the immune system is no longer able to rid the body of cancerous cells. In children with autoimmune diseases the immune system gets rid of healthy cells of the body. We are particularly interested in the metabolism of immune cells. Metabolism consists of all the chemical processes that occur within a living organism that maintain life. In immune cells this means that building blocks (metabolites) need to be brought in to allow the duplication of a cell by making all crucial parts of new cells. In fast growing immune cells this is especially demanding, since they need to duplicate themselves very rapidly to protect against attacks on the normal function of our bodies by, for instance, infections or cancer. This requires a variety of building blocks, and a lot of energy. For this process, cells can acquire these building blocks from their environment, or make them via intricate biochemical pathways. When the right building blocks are not available, immune cells fail to increase in numbers and cannot perform their job.

We use biochemical and metabolomic techniques to understand what fuel is needed for immune cell function, and how immune cells sense the fuel that is available in their environment.

By closely collaborating with Clinicians and Clinician scientists at BCCHR we are aiming to apply the findings to design better treatments for children with immune related diseases.