Dr. Judith Sluimer works in Maastricht University medical Center since 2010. Her research is focussed non-invasive imaging of vulnerable plaques and the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, specifically: 1. Cellular oxygen and lipid metabolism, 2. Angiogenesis, and 3. Autophagy. She combines experimental in vivo and in vitro models with studies involving human subjects and tissue samples. In addition to research and teaching, she is member of the Strategic Board of the cardiovascular research institute Maastricht (CARIM) and the Dutch Endothelial cell Biology Society (DEBS).
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Judith Sluimer defended her PhD thesis at Maastricht University in 2008, under supervision of professor Mat Daemen. She established the first proof of hypoxia in human and murine atherosclerosis and investigated the hypoxia-dependent formation and leaky phenotype of atherosclerotic plaque angiogenesis. After her PhD defence, she joined the lab of Prof. Ira Tabas (Columbia University, NYC, USA) in 2008 as a post-doctoral fellow to further her expertise in macrophage apoptosis, efferocytosis and autophagy (funded by the Netherlands Scientific Organisation (NWO, Rubicon), the international atherosclerosis society (IAS), and Maastricht University). Since 2010, Judith has established an independent research line focusing on the functional role and imaging potential of hypoxia, oxygen sensors and leaky angiogenesis in atherosclerosis and diet-induced obesity in the department of Pathology of Maastricht University Medical Centre. In 2010 she acquired the VENI grant from NWO to investigate pharmaceutical and genetic strategies to improve plaque oxygen levels and their impact on atherogenesis. Specifically, mice deficient in oxygen sensors prolyl hydroxylase 1 (PHD1) and PDH2 show very exciting phenotypes in atherosclerosis, conveying a favourable metabolic profile. In addition, a possible causal role of leaky angiogenesis in atherosclerosis will be determined by genetic, adenoviral and antibody-mediated interventions to alter quantity and quality of angiogenesis in the adventitia underlying murine atherosclerotic plaques. Her expertise in both fundamental and clinical research, will allow her to easily translate basic findings to a clinical setting. Indeed, she has shown proof-of-concept of non-invasive imaging of human plaque hypoxia, in the CTMM funded “plaque at risk” (PARISK) initiative, is developing a new cholesterol lowering compound (Bayer target4grants), and co-founded a program for personalized health and study advise on smartphone applications (eNOVUM). In 2013, the cardiovascular research institute Maastricht (CARIM) consolidated her tenure track, showing their support for Judith’s future within this excellent research institute. From 2016, she will continue research on cellular O2 metabolism and autophagy as network member of the highly competitive (3% success rate) Leducq grant scheme for transatlantic networks of excellence, and as 2016 recipient of the dr. Dekker senior postdoc fellowship from the Heart Foundation.