Our Research

Our life expectancy has increased significantly over the last two centuries. Yet we spend 25 percent of our life suffering from chronic diseases and discomfort. Age is the major risk factor for most of these diseases and treating the elderly is complicated because of their vulnerability. Elderly patients have multiple diseases simultaneously (multimorbidity) and concomitant multiple medications  (polypharmacy) and often prescibed in suboptimal combinations and dosages. Creating real value for elderly patients also means focusing on the consequences of disease and quality of life.

Longstanding tradition in human ageing research

The LUMC has a longstanding tradition in human ageing research and is leading national and international consortia with the mission to make people live healthier for longer. We envision disease in elderly patients as a holistic problem affecting many tissues simultaneously.

We treat elderly patients according to this perspective and in a process involving not only the clinic but also the living conditions, home care and lifestyle factors.

Multidisciplinary research

Our research profile is multidisciplinary by nature. In clinical and population based epidemiological studies we focus on risk factors of diseases specific for aged individuals and factors determining their response to treatment. Aetiological studies into causality of disease or healthy ageing are performed in humans and animal models by clinical studies, genomic and (cell) biological approaches and lifestyle intervention studies.

Departments collaborating for this mission include gerontology & geriatrics, cardiology, orthopaedic surgery, psychiatry, oncology, public health and primary care and departments applying innovative technology to classify heterogeneous populations of elderly such as radiology and molecular epidemiology.

Focus on three major themes

The musculoskeletal system (mobility) in the elderly

Experimental and epidemiologic research is performed to generate novel possibilities for prevention of functional decline and geriatric rehabilitation of older persons from the community-based population to nursing home, and in the general hospital.

We focus on the causes and consequences of mobility problems, in relation to physiology and pathology of the musculoskeletal system (joints, muscle, bone and neuromotor functions).

The heart-brain axis in the elderly

Experimental and epidemiologic research is performed into the functional status of older people, both in the general hospital and the general population, with respect to the influence of the cardiovascular status on brain MRI-characteristics and brain function (operationalized as cognition, depression, apathy, and other neuropsychiatric symptomatology).

Cancer in the elderly

Older cancer patients are underrepresented in clinical trials and basic cancer research. We aim to integrate epidemiological, clinical and molecular data into evidence based recommendations for the treatment and care for older cancer patients. Retrospective, population based cohort studies coupled to tissue banks as well as protective randomized trials are conducted in close collaboration with researchers and clinicians within the LUMC, national and international.

Key Publications

  • Sabayan B, Wijsman LW, Foster-Dingley JC, Stott DJ, Ford I, Buckley BM, Sattar N, Jukema JW, van Osch MJ, van der Grond J, van Buchem MA, Westendorp RG, de Craen AJ, Mooijaart SP. Association of visit-to-visit variability in blood pressure with cognitive function in old age: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2013 Jul 29;347:f4600.
  • van Rookhuijzen AE, Touwen DP, de Ruijter W, Engberts DP, van der Mast RC. Deliberating Clinical Research with Cognitively Impaired Older People and Their Relatives: An ethical add-on study to the protocol "Effects of Temporary Discontinuation of Antihypertensive Treatment in the Elderly (DANTE) with Cognitive Impairment". Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2014 Nov;22(11):1233-40.
  • van de Water W, Markopoulos C, van de Velde CJ, Seynaeve C, Hasenburg A, Rea D, Putter H, Nortier JW, de Craen AJ, Hille ET, Bastiaannet E, Hadji P, Westendorp RG, Liefers GJ, Jones SE. Association between age at diagnosis and disease-specific mortality among postmenopausal women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. JAMA. 2012 Feb 8;307(6):590-7
  • Deelen J, Beekman M,.., Slagboom PE. Genome-wide association meta-analysis of human longevity identifies a novel locus conferring survival beyond 90 years of age. Hum Mol Genet. 2014 Aug 15;23(16):4420-32.
  • den Hollander W, Y.F.M. Ramos,.., Nelissen R, ..I. Meulenbelt. Knee and hip articular cartilage have distinct epigenomic landscapes: implications for future cartilage regeneration approaches. Ann Rheum Dis. 2014 73(12):2208-12
  • Postmus I, Trompet S,.. , de Craen AJ, .., Westendorp RG, Slagboom PE, ..,  Jukema JW, .., Caulfield MJ. Pharmacogenetic meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of LDL cholesterol response to statins. Nat comm 2014 5, 5068-5073
  • de Glas NA, van de Water W, Engelhardt EG, Bastiaannet E, de Craen AJ, Kroep JR, Putter H, Stiggelbout AM, Weijl NI, van de Velde CJ, Portielje JE, Liefers GJ. Validity of Adjuvant! Online program in older patients with breast cancer: a population-based study. Lancet Oncol. 2014 Jun;15(7):722-9
  • Nieuwenhuijse MJ, Nelissen RG, Schoones JW, Sedrakyan A. Appraisal of evidence base for introduction of new implants in hip and knee replacement: a systematic review of five widely used device technologies. BMJ. 2014 Sep 9;349:g5133.
  • Moonen JE, Foster-Dingley JC, de Ruijter W, van der Grond J, Bertens AS, van Buchem MA, Gussekloo J, Middelkoop HA, Wermer MJ, Westendorp RG, de Craen AJ, van der Mast RC. Effect of discontinuation of antihypertensive treatment in elderly people on cognitive functioning-the DANTE Study Leiden: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med 2015: 175(10):1622-1630
  • van den Akker EB,…,  Beekman M, Reinders MJ, Slagboom PE. Uncompromised ten-year survival of oldest old carrying somatic mutations in DNMT3A and TET2.  Blood. 2016 Mar 17;127(11):1512-5.
  • Smit RA, Trompet S, Sabayan B, le Cessie S, van der Grond J, van Buchem MA, de Craen AJ, Jukema JW. Higher Visit-to-Visit Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Variability Is Associated With Lower Cognitive Performance, Lower Cerebral Blood Flow, and Greater White Matter Hyperintensity Load in Older Subjects. Circulation. 2016 Jul 19;134(3):212-21
  • Stott DJ, Rodondi N, …..,, Gussekloo J; TRUST Study Group. Thyroid Hormone Therapy for Older Adults with Subclinical Hypothyroidism. N Engl J Med. 2017 Jun 29;376(26):2534-2544

Dutch science agenda

The medical research profile Ageing participates in the Nationale Wetenschapsagenda (in Dutch).