Noortje Bax appointed as Junior Postdoc

Dr. Noortje Bax is appointed Junior Postdoc by the Dutch Heart Association. The goal of this personal grant within the dr. E. Dekker-program is, to let postdocs who recently received their PhD become an independent researcher. In her research, Bax will look at the regeneration of the heart muscle by using a combination of treatment methods.

Treatment of heart disease
Heart diseases lead to irreversible changes to the organization and composition of the cardiac muscle. Because of that, the heart fails to pump the blood around. Current therapies only focus on the reduction of the problems, but cannot cure the damaged heart. If the pump function deteriorates too much, the only solution would be heart transplantation.

New regenerative treatment methods like. stem cell therapy focus on recovery of the composition of the cardiac muscle by replacing damaged cells. Unfortunately regeneration by this therapy is far from realized. The use of ventricular assist devices, that function as a bridge to transplantation, puts the heart to rest and interestingly shows initial recovery in tissue organization

Combination of assistance and stem cells
Bax receives this grant with the amount of €280.000,- as financial support for four years of research. Her research focusses on the recovery of the composition and organization of the diseased cardiac muscle tissue. She combines bringing the heart to rest with the activation of stem cells that are present in the heart. In patients with heart failure, she will investigate  if cardiac stem cells can be activated by bringing the heart to rest with a ventricular assist device. Besides that, she will use model systems of diseased heart tissue to study if there is a positive healing effect on the recovery and reorganization of cardiac muscle tissue, by putting the the cardiac muscle to rest and the contribution of the cardiac stem cells.

With this project, Bax is creating an important foundation to obtain new insights in structural healing of the heart of patients with heart diseases. This could prevent chronic heart failure and heart transplantations.

The Dr. E. Dekker-program
Research proposals within the dr. E. Dekker-program are evaluated by a selection committee and specialists. A number of candidates is invited for an interview. During this interview, candidates present their research proposals to the selection committee. After that, a discussion takes place. Besides the research proposal, the committee also evaluates the personal qualities of the candidate. The committee was convinced of the innovative approach and strength of Bax’ proposal. Besides, her presentation,  her defense and resume were evaluated as extremely good.