As the principal investigator of the Image-Guided Surgery group (LUMC Image Guided Healthcare and Training Center: Light-Center), I focus on preclinical and clinical studies on intraoperative near-infrared (NIR) fluorescence imaging. The goal of our research is to validate image-guided surgery using clinically available tracers and to clinically translate novel agents in close collaboration with industry or academia (e.g. John Frangioni at Harvard / Curadel, Sam Ghambir, Chair of Radiology at Stanford). To facilitate clinical translation of novel developed probes, my group has a very strong collaboration with the Centre for Human Drug Research (CHDR) and Ph.D. students are appointed both at LUMC and CHDR. Successful clinical translation using the unique resources (including GMP facility and Division of Image Processing) available at LUMC has already been achieved for five novel fluorescent imaging agents. In addition, we aim at disseminating this technique to collaborating hospitals all over the world. Part of this strategy is initiating several multicenter trials with both academic and non-academic hospitals, for example the Erasmus Medical Center (Rotterdam) and Catharina hospital (Eindhoven). Our research contributes to the LUMC research profile areas Cancer Pathogenesis and Therapy (CPT), Innovation in Health Strategy and Quality of care and Biomedical Imaging.
Since 2010 I have supervised 24 Ph.D. students of which 12 have already completed their Ph.D. thesis, including one defense with honors. Furthermore, 3 post-docs / co-investigators of our team have received either a Bas Mulder award (Alpes d’HuZes) or a KWF young investigator award for further clinical implementation of targeted fluorescence-guided surgery. Up to date, the total number of publications is over 148 (h-index of 33). I was awarded with a clinical cancer research award from the Dutch Cancer Society to implement image-guided surgery in daily clinical practice, and involved in several large research projects, including projects funded by the European Union, National Institute of Health, Dutch Cancer Society and in the past the Center for Translational Molecular Imaging (CTMM). To promote valorization of the developed technology at LUMC, I am a founding member and past chairperson of the Study Group “Intra-Operative Imaging” from the European Society of Molecular Imaging (ESMI) and a member of the International Advisory Committee of the International Society for Fluorescence-Guided Surgery (ISFGS).As part of my role in ISFGS, I am a faculty member of the Foregut Meeting (CME courses) organized yearly by The Cleveland Clinics. I am also a member of the program committee and co-chair (2019) and speaker of the yearly organized SPIE Photonics West BiOS conference in San Francisco entitled: Molecular-Guided Surgery: Molecules, Devices, and Applications. BiOS is the world’s largest international biomedical optics conference, encompassing clinical, translational, and fundamental research and development in the field of biomedical optics and photonics.
Over the next 5 years, the type and number of imaging agents as well as imaging devises studied at LUMC will be increased with the singular goal of improving patient care.