Thijs J. Sluiter, BSc
Cardiovascular diseases, such as coronary or peripheral artery disease, are the leading cause of death worldwide and the number of patients is unfortunately only growing. Concomitantly, the number of vascular procedures has nearly doubled the past decade.
Bypass surgery using a venous graft is the gold standard for most patients with coronary or peripheral artery disease. 50% of the vein grafts that are placed, however, fail within 5 years meaning that most patients have to undergo a new intervention for their problems.
The primary reason for vein graft failure is Vein Graft Disease (VGD). In VGD, the inner layer of the vein graft (the endothelium) as well as the micro-vessels growing into vessel wall itself are dysfunctional. This results in excessive infiltration of immune cells into the vessel causing chronic inflammation of the vessel, leading to loss-of-function of the venous bypass.
We therefore aim to improve vein graft patency by reducing endothelial and micro-vessel dysfunction, thus beneficially modulating the patient’s immune response to surgical injury and leading to decreased number of patients needing re-interventions.
After graduating cum laude from high school, I started Medical School at Leiden University in 2016.
During my bachelor’s degree, I completed the ‘epidemiology and clinical scientific research track of the Leiden University Honors College and I followed a minor on cancer cell biology and research at the University of Edinburgh.
After receiving my bachelor’s degree, I did a scientific internship in Boston in the group of prof. C.K. Ozaki (Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School) and prof. J.R. Mitchell (Harvard T.H. School of Public Health). During this internship, we investigated the potential of pre-operative dietary restriction to improve outcomes of vascular surgery.
Currently, I work as a PhD-candidate under the supervision of dr. M.R. de Vries and prof. dr. P.H.A. Quax, focusing on multiple strategies to improve vascular remodeling, consequently improving outcomes of vascular surgery. We actively collaborate with prof. dr. J.D. van Buul and dr. S. Huveneers from the Amsterdam UMC to study the role of the inner layer of the vessel wall and its interaction with immune cells, whilst also continuing to work on dietary restriction as a therapeutic intervention for (vascular) surgery.