I have a PhD degree in Theoretical / Computational Biology from Utrecht University, the Netherlands, where I also held a postdoctoral postion before moving to Norway in June 2008 to work at the Simula scientific computing department. From June 2008 til December 2009 I worked fulltime as a group leader in Computational Biology at Simula. In December 2009 I moved back to the Netherlands, where I now hold an assistant professor position in the Theoretical Biology and Bioinformatics Group, Faculty of Science of Utrehct University. In addition, I still fulfill a parttime position at Simula.
My main research interests are:
*) Cardiac arrhythmias: the mechanisms behind heart rhythm disturbances, especially those leading to sudden cardiac death. What are the roles of electrophysiological heterogeneity, or anatomical heterogeneity such as fibrotic tissue in arrhythmogenesis and subsequent dynamics? What are the roles of calcium dynamics, adrenergic stimulation etc? Are there distinct mechanisms for arrhythmias occurring under different disease conditions (LQT syndrome, Brugada syndrome, ischemic heart disease, cardiac myopathy)? How well extendable are findings in model organisms to the clinical situation in humans? Can we use models to direct the design of drugs capable of treating arrhythmias? I use detailed quantitative models of human cardiac cells, tissues and the whole heart to investigate these questions. The models I developed are widely used and cited.
*) Evolutionary Biology: how does a species split up into multiple species? Is evolution fully random or partly repeatable and constrained? What is the advantage of sexual reproduction given that you can produce half as many children? How do cells in a multicellular organism during embryological development "know" what cell type to become given that all cells have the same DNA? How did this developmental "algorithm" arise and diversify over evolutionary times? These are among the most fundamental questions in evolutionary biology. Over the last decade it has become clear that apart from changes in the numbers, types and combinations of genes that an organism contains, changes in genome organization and changes in gene regulatory circuits play an important role in the evolutionary process. Incorporating these processes in evolutionary models may play an important role in obtaining answers to the afore mentioned questions. I use stochastic agent based simulation models of evolutionary processes in which agents contain an explicit genome and gene regulatory network architecture that will determine their phenotype and hence fitness to study these questions.