"I am interested to unravel fundamental mechanisms underlying the biology and the diseases of the nervous system, and to translate these discoveries into novel, high-impact therapeutics for neurological disorders."
After completing a PhD degree in Cell Biology and a postdoc in Neurobiology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), I focused my research on molecular neuroscience - first at the Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam and then as Professor and Chair of Cell Biology at Utrecht University. My laboratory has made pioneering contributions to our basic understanding of how cytoskeleton organization and intracellular trafficking underlies neuronal development and synapse function.
I came to Genentech in January 2017 to do science at the highest possible level and to collaborate with scientists within a high-quality research environment with deep technical knowledge and a cutting-edge infrastructure to bridge basic neurobiology and drug discovery. I am interested to unravel fundamental mechanisms underlying the biology and the diseases of the nervous system, and to translate these discoveries into novel, high-impact therapeutics for neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
I have mentored many Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows over the last 10 years and always chosen to address the most challenging questions in the field. While the main expertise of my laboratory is in cell biology and molecular neuroscience, mentoring geneticists, biochemists and biophysicists allows me to work in an interdisciplinary team to push the frontiers of basic and translational neuroscience. The postdoc program at Genentech provides a highly interactive research environment with some of the world's most well-known scientists and gives endless opportunity to do high quality research. Postdocs at Genentech have the best of both worlds - they can do basic science in an academic environment and gain valuable exposure to the drug development process.
My group has a long interest in understanding of how basic molecular and cellular mechanisms control the ‘building’ and ‘wiring’ of the brain. We have been particularly focused on the molecular and cellular events that control neuronal development and synapse function. Through innovative biophysical tools and imaging techniques, my lab has shown how cytoskeleton based mechanisms control synaptic plasticity and discovered novel axon and dendritic sorting mechanisms. We have also reported novel mechanistic insight into the critical role of motor proteins and regulatory trafficking factors during neuronal polarity and differentiation. More recently, we have been focusing on understanding how defects in cellular architecture and trafficking-related processes underly the pathogenesis of neurological diseases.
In addition to supervising research in my laboratory, I am also Senior Director of the Neuroscience Department and in that role I oversee Neuroscience research and collaborate with multiple groups both within and outside of Neuroscience.