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.

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  • The European Institue of Innovation and and Technology’s (EIT) announces InnoLife as the winner of EIT Health - healthy living and active ageing, a consortium healthy living and active ageing and in which LUMC’s Medical Research Profile Ageing is involved. Read more

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 Medical Profile Ageing includes three major themes for research in the elderly:

  • the musculoskeletal system (mobility)
  • the heart-brain axis
  • cancer

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

  • Beekman M, Nederstigt C, Suchiman HE, Kremer D, van der Breggen R, Lakenberg N, Alemayehu WG, de Craen AJ, Westendorp RG, Boomsma DI, de Geus EJ, Houwing-Duistermaat JJ, Heijmans BT, Slagboom PE. Genome-wide association study (GWAS)-identified disease risk alleles do not compromise human longevity. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Oct 19;107(42):18046-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1003540107
  • Caljouw MA, van den Hout WB, Putter H, Achterberg WP, Cools HJ, Gussekloo J. Effectiveness of cranberry capsules to prevent urinary tract infections in vulnerable older persons: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial in long-term care facilities. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2014 Jan;62(1):103-10. doi: 10.1111/jgs.12593
  • de Glas NA, de Craen AJ, Bastiaannet E, Op 't Land EG, Kiderlen M, van de Water W, Siesling S, Portielje JE, Schuttevaer HM, de Bock GT, van de Velde CJ, Liefers GJ. Effect of implementation of the mass breast cancer screening programme in older women in the Netherlands: population based study. BMJ. 2014 Sep 14;349:g5410. doi: 10.1136/bmj.g5410
  • Heijmans BT, Tobi EW, Stein AD, Putter H, Blauw GJ, Susser ES, Slagboom PE, Lumey LH. Persistent epigenetic differences associated with prenatal exposure to famine in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Nov 4;105(44):17046-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0806560105
  • Meulenbelt I, Min JL, Bos S, Riyazi N, Houwing-Duistermaat JJ, van der Wijk HJ, Kroon HM, Nakajima M, Ikegawa S, Uitterlinden AG, van Meurs JB, van der Deure WM, Visser TJ, Seymour AB, Lakenberg N, van der Breggen R, Kremer D, van Duijn CM, Kloppenburg M, Loughlin J, Slagboom PE. Identification of DIO2 as a new susceptibility locus for symptomatic osteoarthritis. Hum Mol Genet. 2008 Jun 15;17(12):1867-75. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddn082
  • 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. doi: 10.1136/bmj.g5133
  • Postmus I, Trompet S, Deshmukh HA, Barnes MR, Li X, Warren HR, Chasman DI, Zhou K, Arsenault BJ, Donnelly LA, Wiggins KL, Avery CL, Griffin P, Feng Q, Taylor KD, Li G, Evans DS, Smith AV, de Keyser CE, Johnson AD, de Craen AJ,Stott DJ, Buckley BM, Ford I, Westendorp RG, Slagboom PE, Sattar N, Munroe PB, Sever P, Poulter N, Stanton A, Shields DC, O’Brien E, Shaw-Hawkins S, Chen YD, Nickerson DA, Smith JD, Dubé MP, Boekholdt SM, Hovingh GK, Kastelein JJ, McKeigue PM, Betteridge J, Neil A, Durrington PN, Doney A, Carr F, Morris A, McCarthy MI, Groop L, Ahlqvist E, Welcome Trust Case Control Consortium, Bis JC, Rice K, Smith NL, Lumley T, Whitsel EA, Stürmer T, Boerwinkle E, Ngwa JS, O’Donnell CJ, Vasan RS, Wei WQ, Wilke RA, Liu CT, Sun F, Guo X, Heckbert SR, Post W, Sotoodehnia N, Arnold AM, Stafford JM, Ding J, Herrington DM, Kritchevsky SB, Eiriksdottir G, Launer LJ, Harris TB,Chu AY, Giulianini F, MacFadyen JG, Barratt BJ, Nyberg F, Stricker BH, Uitterlinden AG, Hofman A, Rivadeneira F, Emilsson V, Franco AH, Ridker PM, Gudnason V, Liu Y, Denny JC, Ballantyne CM, Rotter JI, Cupples LA, Psaty BM, Palmer CNA, Tardif JC, Colhoun HM, Hitman G, Krauss RM , Jukema JW, Caulfield MJ. Pharmacogenetic meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of LDL cholesterol response to statins. Nature Communications. 2014. doi: 10.1038/ncomms6
  • 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. 2013 Aug 20. pii: S1064-7481(13)00213-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2013.04.005
  • Rostamian S, Mahinrad S, Stijnen T, Sabayan B, de Craen AJ. Cognitive impairment and risk of stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Stroke. 2014 May;45(5):1342-8. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.114.004658
  • Shepherd J, Blauw GJ, Murphy MB, Bollen EL, Buckley BM, Cobbe SM, Ford I, Gaw A, Hyland M, Jukema JW, Kamper AM, Macfarlane PW, Meinders AE, Norrie J, Packard CJ, Perry IJ, Stott DJ, Sweeney BJ, Twomey C, Westendorp RG; PROSPER study group. PROspective Study of Pravastatin in the Elderly at Risk. A Randomised Controlled Trial of Pravastatin in Elderly Individuals at Risk of Vascular Disease (PROSPER) ): A randomised controlled trial. Lancet 2002; 360: 1623-30. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(02)11600-X

Dutch science agenda

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