An increasing number of people in the Netherlands die as a result of a lung disease. Lung diseases are the number one cause of death worldwide and asthma is the most common chronic condition among children. We would like all of them to breathe freely.

We unravel the underlying mechanisms of airway obstruction, allergy and airway hyperresponsiveness, by studying the development, progression and remission, and their relevance to treatment.

Our research focuses on the main challenges of obstructive airway and pulmonary disease. We need to:

  • Identify risk factors for the development, progression and remission of disease;
  • Identify disease-related genes, gene pathways, gene functionality and gene regulation;
  • Unravel the pathophysiology of allergen-, environmental- and smoke- induced disease, in humans, animal models, and in vitro cell systems;
  • Unravel the effects of disease-related inflammation on lung function, hyperresponsiveness and remodeling of large and small airways;
  • Define new targets for drug intervention and evaluation of intervention strategies;
  • Develop noninvasive or less invasive tools to assess severity of disease and effects and side effects of treatment;

These phenomena are important risk factors for the development of asthma and COPD and crucial characteristics in their clinical pictures.

Relevance

Increase quality of life and find a cure

Diseases of the airways and other structures of the lung are not yet curable, however, various forms of treatment can help to control symptoms and increase the quality of life for people with the disease.

We study the mechanisms of these diseases to help:

  • prevent the disease from progressing,
  • improve the quality of life of patients,
  • be able to cure these diseases in future.

Our research interests lie in epidemiology and genomics, molecular medicine and in  clinical medicine.

  • The longstanding expertise in identifying risk factors and the availability of large, prospective, long-term follow up of patient-based and population-based cohorts (such as LifeLines) and the collaboration with the Department of Genetics enables extensive sub-programs, including exposomics, (epi)genome-wide association, genome-wide interactions and transcriptome sequencing studies. This has resulted in identification of numerous novel genetic loci related to asthma and COPD onset and progression.

    Identification of disease susceptibility and progression markers

    Proteomic and lipidomic research has led us to identification of disease susceptibility and progression markers. We have a longstanding collaboration with the proteomics facility (Prof. R.P.H. Bisschof), and recently incorporated our first member from the European Research Institute on the Biology of Ageing (ERIBA dr. V. Guryev), strengthening our focus on bioinformatic analyses of integrated genomic datasets.

  • We are actively engaged in studies linking clinical outcomes to pathophysiology, also on a molecular basis. Often based on outcomes from and also involving omics studies,  we study the functionality of genes and proteins in disease.

    We use molecular approaches:

    • in cells and tissues from patients,
    • in cell lines
    • and in animal models.

    In vivo and in vitro silencing and overexpression of genes are now established techniques that are operational at the UMCG and GRIP, including the development of knock out and transgenic mouse models, and the use of RNA interference and pharmacological modulation of cells and tissue slices.

    Fundamental to this line of research is the exploration of intracellular and intercellular pathways and interactions. This exploration is highly relevant for

    • tissue repair,
    • disease development, progression and remission,
    • as well as for the exploration of novel drug targets.
  • Patient-centered research is at the heart of our research. Our translational research approach includes

    • large-scale clinical management in primary care,
    • clinical and intervention studies in allergy, food allergy, asthma and COPD.

    In 2012 a GRIAC investigator led the first large-scale intervention study of tiotropium in asthma [N Engl J Med. 2012 Sep 27;367(13):1198-207].

    We are slowly moving towards precision medicine in obstructive and pulmonary disease. Our research programme is in an excellent position to incorporate genomic markers in intervention studies. We are actively engaged in the development of clinical questionnaires for disease diagnosis and monitoring of disease control. Pulmonary rehabilitation and novel bronchoscopic intervention techniques are evaluated for the treatment of COPD.

  • Our partner organisations

    • ​​Netherlands Respi​​ratory, together we aim to use basic, clinical, and translational research to reduce the burden and prevent the development of respiratory diseases. This includes all respiratory diseases, both common diseases such as asthma, COPD and lung cancer, as well as rare diseases such as cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension and interstitial lung diseases.
    • Society NRS Roa​dmap​, the National Lung Research Program shows what we need to do for more results in the prevention and treatment of lung diseases.

Contact

Secretariat: Ms Georgette Hoogendijk ​
University Medical Center Groningen
Beatrix Children's Hospital Hanzeplein 1
PO Box 30001
9700 RB Groningen
House postal code CA43
Room X4.304

Fax: +31 50 36 14 235 \