Head of section & PI

Dr. Henne Holstege

Assistant Professor, Head of section: Genomics of Neurodegenerative Diseases and Aging, the Department of Human Genetics.
PI 100-plus Study

Henne Holstege majored in biochemistry at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands. During her studies, she spent a year at Harvard University in Boston, where she investigated the molecular mechanisms of satiety. She did her PhD at the Netherlands Cancer Institute where she studied the somatic genetic aberrations associated with the development of breast cancer. After her PhD she applied her knowledge of molecular genetics to study the genetic factors underlying the increased risk of cognitive decline, but also those that increase the chance to maintain high levels of cognitive function while achieving extreme ages.

Currently, Henne Holstege is an assistant professor at the department of Human Genetics of the Amsterdam University Medical Center where she runs an independent research section: Genomics of Neurodegenerative Diseases and Aging. She is a staff-member of the Amsterdam Alzheimer Center and she is affiliated with the Delft Bioinformatics Lab of Technical University Delft.

Senior Researchers

Dr. Sven van der Lee

Research into missing hereditary factors.

Collaborating with EADB consortium (Alzheimer Disease Biobank).

Dr. Sven van der Lee is a medical researcher at the Alzheimer Center in Amsterdam. After becoming a doctor at the LUMC in Leiden, he did his PhD at the ErasmusMC in Rotterdam. With his PhD research, he contributed to the discovery of several hereditary factors that influence the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. He now is continuing this research at the Alzheimer Center in Amsterdam and the Department of Human Genetics. Additionaly, he is trying to apply the findings from genetic research to improve the diagnosis of dementia in daily practice. 

Sponsored by Memorabel ZonMw

Dr. ir. Marc Hulsman

Bioinformatician, faculty member of Department of Human Genetics. 

Collaborating with ADES (Alzheimer’s Disease European Sequencing Consortium).

Marc is motivated by the data science challenges that are often encountered in our research projects. Also, he is interested in revealing and understanding the genetic factors that affect cognitive decline with ageing. He studied computer science at the Technical University of Delft, and majored in bioinformatics. After that, he went on to do a PhD at the Delft Bioinformatics Lab, studying methodologies to normalize and integrate disparate types of data, to allow the extraction of new knowledge. During this time, he developed an expertise in statistics, machine learning, database normalization techniques and database design. After a post-doc in which he studied cellular connectivity in fungi, he joined the 100-plus study early in 2014 as senior researcher at the Department of Human Genetics. Currently, his focus is on the rare variants in Alzheimer’s disease. To this end, he analyses genetic data from a large number of international partners (ADES consortium) at the Dutch national supercomputer, to reveal new genes that play a role in Alzheimer’s disease. 

Technical Support

Sanduni Wijesekera

Genomic sequencing

Sanduni is a Research Assistant at the 100 plus group who is mainly responsible for laboratory operations with PacBio sequencing. Sanduni manages DNA sequencing and optimization of laboratory workflows. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Truman State University, Missouri.  Prior to joining 100 Plus group, Sanduni worked as a Research Assistant II at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital) in Boston, Massachusetts. Along with her experience in personalized medicine and genomic sequencing, Sanduni also has experience in microbiology and immunology from her undergraduate research and  volunteers as science write for non-profit organizations.

Sponsored by VUmc Foundation.

Research Assistants

Kimberley van Vliet

Practical team member

After graduating as a neuropsychologist, Kimberley started to work as a research assistant in the practical team of the 100-plus study. Next to this, she also works as a neuropsychologist at the Alzheimer Center Amsterdam. As a member of the practical team of the 100-plus study she has the honor to visit the centenarians for our research. During these pleasant visits, she collects all the information for our research. She has met a lot of special centenarians, each with their own life lessons en stories. It is striking that all the centenarians have a positive attitude towards life. This makes every visit very interesting and educational! In the future she hopes to meet many more centenarians. In her spare time she likes to meet up with friends, loves to read a good book and also likes cooking.

Sponsored by VUmc Foundation.

Marieke Graat

Practical team member

After graduating from her research master in Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience at Maastricht University, Marieke spent a few years working as a software engineer. Wanting to return to her field of interest, she has now joined the 100-plus study as a research assistant. Her main focus is the data collection, for which she visits the centenarians at home, as well as other supporting tasks relating to the study. In her spare time she likes to swim and play the piano.

Chandeny Bennewitz

Practical team member - Master student

Chandeny has a bachelor’s degree in Psychobiology and is currently obtaining her master’s degree in Neurobiology at the University of Amsterdam. She will be joining the practical team as an intern. For the upcoming months she will be involved with data collection during the house visits, supporting administrative tasks and she will be writing a research report. She is interested in the consequences of aging on the brain and cognitive functioning. For her research project she will be focusing on the association between blood-based Alzheimer’s Disease specific biomarkers, cognition and pathology in cognitively healthy centenarians. 

Postdocs

Alex Salazar

Comparison of long read sequences from Alzheimer's disease patients and cognitively healthy centenarians. 

Collaborating with Prof. Dr. Ir. M.J.T. (Marcel) Reinders at the Delft Bioinformatics Lab at the Technical University Delft and PacBio.

Alex is interested in understanding how structural variation influences human neurodegenerative diseases. He previously worked at TU Delft as a PhD student using long-read sequencing technology to characterize the genomes of industrial yeast strains. Afterwards, he moved to Copenhagen, Denmark, and joined a start-up company, SNIPR BIOME, as a Bioinformatic Scientist aiming to develop CRISPR-based technology to modulate human microbiomes. Given his strong background in microbial genomics, he hopes to one day incorporate microbiome data to better understand how both genetics and the human gut influences brain development.

Sponsored by AD-REPEAT (TKI PPP grant), Amsterdam Neuroscience

PhD students

Niccoló Tesi

Genetic factors that are associated with becoming a cognitively healthy centenarians in the context of Alzheimer's disease and human longevity. 

Collaborating with Prof. Dr. Ir. M.J.T. (Marcel) Reinders at the Delft Bioinformatics Lab at the Technical University Delft and Prof. Dr. W.M. (Wiesje) van der Flier at the Amsterdam Alzheimer Center.

Niccolò was born in Florence, grew in a little village in the beautiful tuscanian countryside before moving, first to Spain, then to the UK, and finally to The Netherlands, increasing his international view without forgetting where he came from, which is still the best place in the world. Nicco is curious and always eager to learn something new. Genetics really fascinates him, it is amazing how a tiny molecule can influence the way we look like, behave, age and react to sicknesses. He is very interested in the tech-world: computer, photography, videography, data analysis and machine learning. And because modern times can be stressful, he likes to escape this busyness by listening to some good-old records or going around with the skateboard.

Sponsored by VUmc Foundation.

Andrea Ganz

Molecular analysis of the post-mortem brain tissue from the 100-plus Study participants.

Collaborating with Dr. J.J.M. (Jeroen) Hoozemans, department of pathology of Amsterdam UMC and Prof. Dr. A.B. (Guus) Smit, VU University: Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research . 

Andrea Ganz is from Mainz, Germany and studied biosciences and molecular neurobiology at the TU Kaiserslautern before moving to Amsterdam to start her PhD with the 100-plus Study in a collaboration with the CNCR and the pathology department of the Amsterdam UMC. Andrea investigates how the brains of the 100-plussers differ from those of people who get dementia. She is analyzing this both on a molecular level and using neuropathology. By comparing the proteins in the healthy 100-plussers with those seen in Dementia patients or younger healthy individuals, she identified proteins that are specifically tied to dementia or aging and was able to identify a few proteins that characterize healthy aging as in the 100-plussers in particular. She hopes that this information will help to better understand what healthy aging in the brain really is and that this will ultimately be useful for the treatment of people who do get dementia. Andrea will finish her PhD in 2021.

Sponsored by Dioraphte and Scientific Excellence Program of the Neuroscience Campus Amsterdam (AD Protectomics).

Meng Zhang

100-plus brain proteomics data analysis.

Collaborating with Prof. Dr. Ir. M.J.T. (Marcel) Reinders at the Delft Bioinformatics Lab at the Technical University Delft

Meng was born in Nanjing China. He is a PhD student studying at the Delft Bioinformatics Lab at Technical University Delft. His main aim is to increase the understanding of the building blocks of human beings. With a background in computer science, he uses and designs bioinformatics solutions to reach his aim. 

Rita Guimarães

Structural variants as genetic drivers of Alzheimer’s disease.

Collaborating with Dr. F.M.J. (Frank) Jacobs at University of Amsterdam. Visit the Frank Jacobs Lab.

Rita is a PhD candidate in the 100plus Study and in the evolutionary neurogenomics lab at the University of Amsterdam. She did her bachelors’ degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology and her masters’ degree in Molecular Genetics and Biomedicine, at the NOVA University of Lisbon, in Portugal. She came to Amsterdam during the masters’ degree for an internship, which allowed me to dive into the previously known as “junk” DNA. This repetitive type of DNA, overlooked for so many years, is now the focus for complex disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease. She investigates how the variation in repetitive DNA might be associated to an increased risk to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Sponsored by Alzheimer Nederland.

Linda Lorenz

The association between fluid biomarkers and cognition in cognitively healthy centenarians and their family members. 

Collaborating with Dr. S. (Sietske) Sikkes and Prof. Dr. Ir. C.E. (Charlotte) Teunissen, Neurochemistry Laboratory at Amsterdam UMC.

Linda Lorenz studied Neuropsychology in Amsterdam and currently is a PhD student with the 100-plus Study. She is part of the practical team, which means she gets to visit the centenarians in their homes and administer a neuropsychological assessment and several questionnaires. The practical team find meeting the centenarians the most fun part of their job. As for the study, besides the cognitive testing, we also ask the participants for a blood donation and if they would be willing to donate their brain to the study after passing away. Linda’s current project entails measuring the association between cognition and fluid biomarkers such as Aβ42, Aβ40, pTau-181, NfL and GFAP in both the blood and cerebrospinal fluid of cognitively healthy centenarians and their family members.

The neuropsychology of centenarians will be put in the context of aging in collaboration with ANDI-NORMS. 

Sponsored by BrightFocus Foundation and Memorabel ZonMW.

Susan Rohde

Neuropathology and Functional Characteristics of the Centenarian Brain.

Collaborating with Dr. J.J.M. (Jeroen) Hoozemans, department of pathology of Amsterdam UMC. 

Susan obtained her bachelor’s degree in Psychobiology (2018) and master’s degree in Neurobiology (2020) at the University of Amsterdam. In November 2020, Susan has started her PhD project at the 100-plus Study. She will investigate the neuropathological and functional characteristics of the centenarian brain. Susan is especially interested in a rare genetic mutation that is enriched in our cohort of cognitively healthy centenarians. This genetic mutation protects against multiple types of dementia and increases the likelihood to reach extreme ages. We hope to understand how this genetic mutation delays the onset of dementia and alters brain processes. This knowledge may identify promising therapeutic targets for AD.

Sponsored by VUmc Research B.V.

Matthijs de Waal

Identifying and treating SORL1-associated Alzheimer's disease

Collaborating with Prof. Dr. Ir. C.E. (Charlotte) Teunissen, Neurochemistry Laboratory at Amsterdam UMC.

Coming from a biomedical background, Matthijs always had interest in genetic and neurological research. After his Bachelor Biomedical Labresearch at the appplied university of Inholland, he went to the VU University to study Neurosciences. For his master thesis he moved to New York to study common and rare risk variants in Schizophrenia. Matthijs’ search to combine both neuroscience and genetics led him eventually to our lab. He started his PhD project where he will investigate the SORL1-gene in more depth. The challenge is to identify which of the variants of this gene are causative or risk-increasing and which are benign. Hopefully, this knowledge would help both counseling and finding treatment for patients with these variants. 

Oscar van der Meer

Oscar started his career studying notary law at the University of Utrecht after which he worked within notary and accountancy. Finding his true passion, he switched careers. He holds a joint bachelors degree in Life Science & Technology from Leiden University and TU Delft and a masters degree in Computer Science: Bioinformatics from Leiden University. Using novel computer science techniques such as deep learning and applying these on complex life science data while doing something meaningful for society is his dream. Furthermore, he has a passion for practicing mixed martial arts, playing drums and volunteering at summer camps for kids.

Annieck Diks

In 2017, Annieck started as a PhD candidate in the Immune Monitoring group at the department of Immunology at Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC). In their group they are interested in understanding the human immune response generated upon vaccination.

In addition to her position at the LUMC, she works as an external PhD candidate in the team of dr. H. Holstege since May 2018. Together we investigate the immune system of individuals carrying a specific variant of the PLCG2 gene. This PLCG2 variant is considered protective; it correlates with decreased risk of developing certain types of dementia and with an increased chance of longevity. As the immune system plays an important role in aging and age-related diseases, we are very interested in understanding the impact of this protective PLCG2 variant on the immune system.

Master students

Francesca Lucas

Variable Number Tandem Repeats related to Alzheimer's disease.

Collaborating with Prof. Dr. Ir. M.J.T. (Marcel) Reinders at the Delft Bioinformatics Lab at the Technical University Delft. 

Francesca is a master student at the Delft Bioinformatics Lab (TU Delft). She is comparing the genetic material of people with Alzheimer’s disease to cognitively healthy individuals. She is looking into a specific type of difference: Variable Number Tandem Repeats associated with Alzheimer’s, which she tries to detect using a short read sequencing data and algorithms. Francesca is very enthusiastic about doing here thesis at the 100-plus group and for having a chance to contribute to unravelling the mysteries of Alzheimer’s disease. 

Bachelor students

Quirine Stoopendaal

Microglial functions in centenarian brain tissue.

Quirine is studying Biological and Medical Laboratory Research at the University of applied science in Leiden. During her study, she became interested and specialized in pathology and immunology. In September 2021, Quirine has started her internship at the 100-plus study and the pathology department. She will investigate brain material donated by cognitive healthy centenarians, with a focus on microglia and pathology. Quirine is eager to learn and contribute to the ongoing 100-plus Study. In her spare time Quirine likes to read books and go on walks.

 

Project Manager

Mayca Thijssen

Mayca studied the research master Cognitive Neuroscience at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. After graduating, she spend some years working as the Research Manager of a neuromarketing company. Applying neuroscience and neuroimaging techniques in a more practical way was what she really enjoyed doing. However, she wanted to do something more meaningful for society. Therefore, she started working at the 100-plus Study. She is really excited to work with this special group of centenarians and to see what further insights this research will bring us. 

Sponsored by Hans und Ilse Breuer-Stiftung.

External collaborators and co-supervisors

Neuropathology

Amsterdam UMC: Department of Pathology.

Neuropsychology

VU University: Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences, Clinical Neuropsycholgy. 

VU

Amsterdam Neuroscience, Alzheimer Center Amsterdam

Amsterdam Neuroscience, Alzheimer Center Amsterdam

Neuroimmunology

Amsterdam Neuroscience, MS Center Amsterdam

Brain proteomics

VU University: Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research.

VU

Bioinformatics

TU Delft: Bioinformatics lab.

TUDelft

Evolutionary Neurogenomics

University of Amsterdam, Frank Jacobs lab.

UVA