event_seat Associate Professor
Dr. W. Matthijs Blankesteijn
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, CARIM School for Cardiovascular Diseases, Faculty of Health Medicine and Life Sciences (FHML), Maastricht University, The Netherlands.
Matthijs Blankesteijn studied Biology and Chemistry at the Radboud University Nijmegen. After obtaining his MSci degrees (Biology: June 1988, Chemistry: October 1988), he started a PhD project at the Department of Internal Medicine of the Radboud University Hospital, resulting in a PhD thesis entitled “b-Adrenergic receptor function and regulation in hypertension” (promotores: Prof. Dr. Th. Thien and Prof. Dr. J.J.H.H.M. de Pont; defense date 21-09-1993). He started as a postdoctoral fellow at the Dept. of Pharmacology, Maastricht University in 1993. Ater a postdoctoral fellowship at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston MA, USA in 1997/1998 he obtained a tenured position at Maastricht University, where he currently is Associated Professor of Pharmacology. During his career, he obtained several personal grants, including a NATO travel grant and a ZonMW VIDI grant. He is principal investigator at CARIM and Research portfolio holder at the Dept. of Pharmacology and Toxicology. He currently is a member of the Research Council and the Grants & Incentives team of CARIM.
His main research focus is on signaling mechanisms controlling the remodeling of the heart in response to a pathological stimulus such as pressure overload or ischemia. Together with his research team, he discovered the role of WNT signaling in processes associated with cardiac remodeling such as fibrosis and angiogenesis. Studies from his group and others have shown that pharmacological inhibition of Wnt signaling has a beneficial effect on infarct healing with smaller infarcts and a better preservation of cardiac function. The activation of cardiomyocyte regeneration in the border zone has recently been proposed as a potential mechanism, which is in line with the well-established role for WNT signaling in the control of stem cell differentiation. In the meantime, it has become evident that WNT signaling is essential form embryonic development but becomes relatively dormant in the adult organism. This may explain why interventions in WNT signaling have relatively few side effects and could be further developed towards clinical application.
His teaching activities are mainly focused on the Medical Curriculum, where he is long-term coordinator and tutor in the courses “Circulation and Breathing” of the first and second year. He is also involved in the Master of Biological Sciences program and in the newly developed Bachelor program on Regenerative Medicine and Technology. He is also involved in organizing educational courses for PhD students in CARIM and is member of the Educational Programme Committee of this Research School.