I am Professor and Chair of Epidemiology at the department of Epidemiology, Erasmus MC Rotterdam, the Netherlands. I am also president of the Dutch Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMW), the largest public funder in healthcare in The Netherlands. I am principal investigator of the Rotterdam Study and a key collaborator in the CHARGE (Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology) consortium. My research focuses on investigating the etiology of neurologic diseases in the elderly, with a particular focus on dementia, Alzheimer disease and healthy brain aging. The main areas of research are to elucidate the earliest signs of brain diseases, before clinical symptoms are present, and to understand how these lead to clinical manifestation of disease. Moreover, I am interested in preclinical signs that can be used to identify persons at highest risk of developing disease. More recently, I have expanded my research interests to focus on Healthy Longevity at large and determinants of Health care and Health care utilization.
For my research, I have used data from the large population-based Rotterdam Study and Rotterdam Scan Study that have followed nearly 15,000 persons for a period of nearly 30 years. A main focus on my research has been the use of MRI-imaging to understand brain disease. Also, I have used neuropsychological testing, genome- wide, exome chip, DNA-methylation and sequencing technologies, and recently electronic gait assessments. Not only am I interested in how these pre-clinical markers lead to clinical disease, I also want to disentangle the intricate relationships between these markers.
I am also active in various local and national research infrastructures, including EraCORe (clinic-based COVID- 19 cohort study), BBMRI-NL, Health-RI, X-omics, and Netherlands Cohorts Consortium. I have published over 1,050 international scientific papers (H-index = 103) and currently head a research group of 15 PhD-students, 3 post-docs, 3 MSc-students, and 5 research staff.