Searching for resilience: balans en het biopsychosociale model

Drs. Joost Mertens

In the last decennia, the focus on stress-related disorders has made a switch from a focus on the disorder – i.e. on the consequences of stress – to the focus on resilience, resistance: on factors that are protecting us against it. Why are some people able to maintain their balance, whereas others are not? An important thing in this issue is the complex and non-hierarchical mix of biological and psychological factors, which brings us to the biopsychosocial model. This model provides insight in both the complexity of causal factors, as well as on the many possibilities regarding prevention and recovery. Therefore, the biopsychosocial model is of key importance in the De Velse/GGZ institution.


Conservation drones to monitor wildlife and its habitat  

Prof. dr. Serge Wich

Land-cover change and hunting are leading to major declines in tropical biodiversity. The fast changes occurring in the tropics place an urgent need on rapid and affordable techniques to monitor wildlife and its habitats. Recently the use of drones in conservation has increased markedly. Drones allow for the acquisition of very-high resolution imagery in a flexible low-cost system. A variety of sensors can be used to obtain images that can be used to determine the distribution and density of animals and allow for land-cover mapping and change detection. In this talk I will go over some recent examples of how drones have been applied to conservation. These will include the counting of orangutan and chimpanzee nests to determine their distribution and density, automatic detection of species, land-cover classification and change monitoring, and some thoughts on the future of technology and conservation.


Balancing salt and water for a healthy brain (White matter diseases caused by disturbed brain ion and water homeostasis)

Dr. Rogier Min, vu mc

Electrical activity in the brain is the basis of all our thoughts and actions. This electricity is generated by movement of positively and negatively charged ions between intracellular and extracellular compartments, accompanied by movement of water through osmosis. Brain function therefore crucially depends on maintaining a correct balance of ions and water. Astrocytes, abundant but understudied brain cells, are critical for ion and water homeostasis. Defects in this process leads to chronic white matter swelling. Affected children become spastic, ataxic and wheelchair bound. Cognitive disabilities and epilepsy are common, and life expectancy is shortened. In my presentation I will outline how we are using electrophysiology and life-cell imaging approaches to understand astrocyte dysfunction in the white matter disease ‘Megalencephalic leukoencephalopathy with subcortical cysts’ (MLC).


Breaking the balance towards immunity or tolerance

Prof. dr. Rik Scheper, vu mc

The immune system with all its different white blood cells and lymphoid organs, has evolved to protect us against microbial threats. Meanwhile it also helps us to clean up undesirable cellular and tissue waste. Of course, it should leave alone our healthy body components. Unfortunately, several factors can break the subtle balance between immunity and tolerance. Multiple diseases may follow, depending on whether systemic or organ-specific targets are affected most. Thus, undesired immune effector functions play critical roles in e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and multiple sclerosis, whereas lack of such roles may facilitate recurrent infections or tumor growth. Several therapeutic pathways are currently explored to restore the benefits of balance.


Good times, bad times …. Impact of the circadian clock on health and disease

Prof. dr. Bert van der Horst

Like most organisms, we have developed an internal time keeping system that drives daily rhythms in metabolism, physiology and behavior, and allows us to optimally anticipate to the momentum of the day. At the basis of circadian timekeeping lies an intracellular molecular oscillator in which a set of clock genes cyclically regulate their own expression with an approximate (circa) 24-hour (dies) periodicity. The mammalian circadian system consists of a light-entrainable master clock in the neurons of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the brain, and light-irresponsive peripheral clocks in the cells of virtually all other tissues. As the circadian clock drives rhythmic expression of up to 10 % of the active genes (thereby conferring rhythmicity to a wide range of cellular processes such as, but certainly not limited to, energy metabolism, metabolic activation of drugs, detoxification, hormone synthesis, DNA repair and cell cycle control), it may not come as a surprise that disruption of the circadian system is associated with disease. Indeed, genetic disruption of the circadian system in rodent models by inactivation of clock genes has been found to increase tumor growth, accelerate aging, and disrupt metabolism. On the other hand, our 24/7 economy requires many people to work at “non-standard” times. Recently, epidemiological and experimental animal studies have revealed a relation between disturbance of our body clock by repeated shift-work and an increased risk for developing pathologies such as cancer, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.
This presentation will address the mechanism and biological/medical importance of the circadian clock, with special emphasis on its impact on the etiology, treatment and prevention of disease.