Translational Neuroscience


The 'Translational Neuroscience' research portfolio encompasses some twenty Research Programmes in more than ten departments of the LUMC.

Research Translational Neuroscience

Hallmarks of our research strategy:

  • Complementary; focus on two major theme’s
  • Multidisciplinary strategy; collaboration between departments – integration of clinical and molecular research
  • Translational character, aiming at improved diagnosis, novel intervention and prevention targets
  • International networks

Paroxysmal Cerebral Disorders

Paroxysmal Brain Disorders

Neurogenetics; Migraine, Huntington, Alzheimer, CAA 

Principal investigators: Prof.dr. A.M.J.M. van den Maagdenberg, Prof.dr. S.M. van der Maarel, Dr. W.M.C. van Roon, Dr. E.A. Tolner, Dr. L. van der Weerd | Human Genetics

The perspective to offer reliable diagnostics and ultimately, improved personalized treatment, stimulated the identification of causative genes for severe neurogenetic disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, CAA, Huntington’s disease, and migraine. The recent challenge of functional genomics have stimulated the generation of in vitro and in vivo models, including iPSCs and rodents. We now are able to study these diseases in a truly multidisciplinary and translational manner by molecular, electrophysiological and imaging technologies.

Paroxysmal cerebral disorders

Principal investigators: Prof. dr. M.D. Ferrari, Prof. dr. J.G. van Dijk, Prof. dr. A.M.J.M. van den Maagdenberg, Dr. G.J. Lammers, Dr. G.M. Terwindt, Dr. M.J.H. Wermer, Dr. E.A. Tolner | Neurology

The program consists of translational research lines, studying the diagnosis, clinical aspects, epidemiology, socio-economic-impact, quality of life, structural and functional cerebral consequences, pathophysiology, and prevention and acute precision treatment of several highly disabling and mechanistically related episodic brain disorders that are primarily characterised by recurring attacks of transient dysfunction of disease-specific parts of the brain which may last from several minutes to several days; migraine, epilepsy, narcolepsy and syncope.

Read more: Parosyxmal crebral disorders

Circadian Rhythm and Sleep

Principal investigators: Prof. dr. J.H. Meijer, Dr. S. Michel, Dr. T. de Boer, Dr. J. Rohling, Dr. E. Vreugdenhil | Molecular Cell Biology

A key question in translational neuroscience is how life-style and age-induced deterioration of 24-hour rhythms can lead to metabolic and sleep disorders, depression, and neurodegenerative diseases. Twenty four-hour rhythms are profoundly present in all physiological systems to adapt to recurrent environmental changes, and are deeply embedded in biology. The central pacemaker driving these rhythms, the suprachiasmatic nucleus, is located in the evolutionary old part of the brain, at the base of the hypothalamus. The aim of the program is to understand the physiological bases of circadian rhythms, and to translate these findings in new strategies for prevention and treatment of sleep-related disorders.

Read more: Circadian rhytm and sleep

Genetics of disease, diagnosis and treatment

Principal investigators: Prof. dr. A.M.J.M. van den Maagdenberg, Dr. S.A.M.J. Lesnik-Oberstein, Dr. G.W.E. Santen, Dr. C. Ruivenkamp | Clinical Genetics

The aim of this program is to apply advanced molecular techniques on (rare) neurodevelopmental, neurovascular and neuromuscular disease. The focus is on the identification of causative genes, allowing precision medicine, as well as elucidating the relevant pathophysiological pathways both in vitro and in vivo. The ultimate goal of this program lies in the development of rationale-targeted interventions for these neurogenetic disorders. Examples of disorders for which these approaches are applied are Coffin-Siris syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder, and CADASIL, an adult-onset neurovascular disorder.

Read more: Genetics of disease, diagnosis and treatment

Acute and Chronic Pain

Principal investigators: Prof. dr. A. Dahan, Dr. M. Niesters, Dr. M. van Velzen, and Prof. dr. L. Aarts | Anesthesiology

Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage. Despite the availability of various treatment options, such as opioids and local anaesthetics, a large number of chronic pain syndromes (e.g., neuropathic pain or pain related to nerve damage), are difficult to treat and have a profound impact on the quality of life.

Research on acute and chronic pain focuses on 1) mechanisms involved in pain and its perception, 2) pharmacological treatment of pain, 3) endogenous pain modulation and 4) chronification of pain.

Studies are performed in volunteers, perioperative patients and chronic pain patients, including patients with fibromyalgia, diabetes, and sarcoidosis.

Read more: Acute and chronic pain

Vascular cerebral disorders

Principal investigators: Prof. dr. M.D. Ferrari, Prof. dr. A.M.J.M. van den Maagdenberg, Dr. G.M. Terwindt, Dr. M.J. Wermer | Neurology; Dr. S.A.M.J. Lesnik-Oberstein | Clinical Genetics

This program focuses on the pathogenesis, prevention and acute precision treatment of cerebral ischaemia related to migraine, subarachnoid haemorrhage, and rare monogenic neurovascular disorders. Translational research on vascular cerebral disease combines investigations of patients and relevant animal and cellular models to: 1) identify mechanisms involved in cerebral ischemia, and 2) develop pharmacological treatments of cerebral ischemia.

Read more: Vascular cerebral disorders

Child psychiatry

Principal investigators: Prof. dr. R.R. Vermeiren, Dr. O. Colins, Dr. E.A. Mulder, Dr. C.G. Reichart, Dr. A.M. Fredriks | Child Psychiatry

The main aim of the child psychiatry research program is to develop precision treatment and prevention through optimizing the identification of children in need of psychiatric care and to monitor the effect of intervention longitudinally. Because psychological conditions related to psychiatric disorders may not always be visible or measurable by means of traditional instruments, innovative assessment methods must be developed, including neuro-imaging with focus on social perspective taking and emotion regulation.

Adult psychiatry

Principal investigators: Prof. dr. N.J.A. van der Wee, Prof. dr. R.C. van der Mast, Prof. dr. A.M. van Hemert, Dr. E.J. Giltay, Dr. T. van Veen

The research focusses on symptoms, neurobiology and personalized treatment of mood-anxiety and somatoform disorders across the lifespan and the relation with the emotion regulation system. The program follows a dimensional, developmental, translational and interdisciplinary approach. The research is embedded in the LUMC-broad medical research profiles ‘Translational Neuroscience’, ‘Aging’ and ‘Imaging’ and we participate in the university research theme ‘Health across the human lifecycle’ and the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition.

Read more: Adult psychiatry

Nerve and spine surgery

Principal investigators: Prof. dr. W.C. Peul, Prof. dr. M.J.A. Malessy, Dr. C.L.A. Vleggeert-Lankamp | Neurosurgery

The nerve and spine surgery research programs consist of clinically oriented and basic science research. The clinically oriented research program focuses on efficacy of surgical interventions, effectiveness of new devices, shared decision making in neurosurgery and epidemiology. The basic science program is focussed on the improvement of regeneration of injured nerve tissue by combining refined surgical repair with gene therapy-based, regenerative molecular delivery strategies.

Read more: Nerve and spine surgery


Principal investigators: Prof. dr. M. van Buchem, Prof. dr. S. Rombouts, Prof. dr. B.P.F. Lelieveldt, Prof. dr. A. Webb, Dr. M. Kruit, Dr. J van der Grond, Dr. M. van Osch, Dr. L. van der Weerd | Radiology

The program investigates specific diseases of the central nervous system using state-of-the-art structural and functional imaging technology with an emphasis on MRI. The main aim is to develop and apply technologies to solve biomedical questions. The program is characterized by close interactions between themes with a technological and those with a biomedical focus. Our group hosts experts with various backgrounds, such as medicine, physics, chemistry, biology, biomedical sciences, and neuropsychology.

Read more: Neuroimaging


Principal investigators: Prof. dr. A.A.B. Lycklama à Nijeholt, Dr. P.J. Voorham – van der Zalm, Dr. H.W. Elzevier | Urology

The research in the Pelvic Floor & Sexuality Research Group Leiden focusses on bladder/urethral/pelvic floor (dys) function, sexual (dys) function in men and women and on andrological aspects. With regard to neuro-anatomy and neurophysiology, a close relationship exists between those (dys)functions.

Read more: Neuro-urology

Medical Statistics

Principal investigators: Prof. dr. T. Stijnen, Prof. dr. R. Brand, Prof. dr. J.J. Houwing-Duistermaat, Prof. dr. H. Putter, Dr. S. Böhringer, Dr. S. le Cessie, Dr. B. Mertens, Dr. E.W. van Zwet | Medical Statistics and Bioinformatics

The research of the section Medical Statistics focuses on the development, interpretation, evaluation and implementation of statistical methods and data management for (bio-)medical research. In addition, it provides support for bioinformatics, biosemantics and big-data analysis pipeline development within LUMC. The section participates in numerous LUMC clinical research projects.

Read more: Medical Statistics

Neurological Motor Disorders

Neurological Motor Disorders

Neurological motor disorders

Principal investigators: Prof. dr. R.A.C. Roos, Prof. dr. J.J. van Hilten, Prof. dr. J. Verschuuren, Dr. J. Plomp | Neurology

The program is a collaborative effort of clinical and basic science research groups focusing on rare and common chronic conditions of the motor system from muscle to cortex: Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy, myasthenia gravis and Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome, inclusion body myositis, Parkinson, Huntington’s disease and CRPS. The focus for all these disorders is to elucidate the pathophysiology, including the role of autoimmunity and (neuro)degeneration and to study the efficacy of new drugs or modification of existing treatment strategies in order to improve the course of disease and quality of life. Detailed clinical profiling, study of the natural history, web-based patient databases, and new outcome measures are all used to develop new treatments for these neuromuscular disorders.

Read more: Neurological motor disorders, Neurology Research

Muscular dystrophies

Principal investigators: Prof. dr. S.M. van der Maarel, Prof. Dr. A.M. Aartsma-Rus, Dr. V. Raz | Human Genetics

Muscular dystrophies comprise a heterogeneous group of inherited degenerative muscle disorders, characterized by progressive muscle wasting and weakness with variable distribution and severity. The research focuses on the understanding of the common- and distinct pathophysiological mechanisms underlying this heterogeneous group of genetic diseases as well as exploring new avenues for therapy. Sophisticated cellular and animal models were generated to study pathophysiology and develop modern biological personalized treatments, including genomic (skipping) strategies. The main focus is on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), some of the Limb Girdle muscular dystrophies (LGMDs) and Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD). The FSHD program also entails a strong (developmental) epigenetics research line.

Cochlear implants / oto-biology

Principal investigators: Prof. dr. J.H.M. Frijns, Dr. J.J Briaire, Dr. M.A. Huisman | Otolaryngology

The research on cochlear implants (CIs, electrical prostheses for the deaf) has a strong translational character, by combining computational modelling, imaging, electrophysiology (in animals and humans), psychophysics and clinical trials, and is closely related to the clinical cochlear implant program. The central theme is improving the interface between the CI and the auditory nerve. To this end the oto-biology laboratory investigates autologous cell-based therapy to replace or repair auditory neurons. Neural progenitor cells from hair follicles may serve this purpose. Cell phenotype and fate in vitro and in vivo are monitored using histological techniques and molecular imaging.

Read more: Cochlear implants/ oto-biology