A major focus of our group is on musculoskeletal health and disorders, including osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and musculoskeletal traits such as height, bone geometry, and chronic pain.  Our approach is multidisciplinary, combining epidemiology with large-scale genetics and genomics. A large part of our research is embedded the Rotterdam Study and Generation R, but we also study small mendelian families with extreme musculoskeletal traits, and are part of intervention studies. Much of our genetic research is operating within large collaborative international consortia, such as GEFOS (Osteoporosis), TREAT-OA (osteoarthritis), GIANT (Anthropometric Traits), and CHARGE (Aging Research).


We study:

-- Clinical osteoporosis and Diseases of Calcium and Bone metabolism

-- The (genetic) background of atypical femur fractures related to the use of bisphoshonates

-- The pleiotropic effects of Vitamin D

-- The relation between osteoporosis and other common and endocrine diseases (lobesity, sarcopenia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease,

    acromegaly, Pompe disease)

-- The effects of calcium intake on bone and general health

-- Genomic Epidemiologic Osteoporosis (Fernando Rivadeneira)

-- Clinical Osteoporosis and Disease in families (Carola Zillikens & Annemieke Verkerk)

-- Intervention studies (NvdV, Carola Zillikens, Joyce van Meurs)


OSTEOARTHRITIS - Joyce van Meurs

Osteoarthritis is the most common degenerative disease of the joints among the elderly and a leading cause of chronic pain and disability in the elderly population. Dr Joyce van Meurs is leading osteoarthritis research within the Rotterdam Study (a large longitudinal cohort study of >15.000 individuals). Her research is focussed on genetic and clinical epidemiology of osteoarthritis and chronic pain. In addition, elucidating biological mechanism behind the genetic associations we found in the large genome wide association scans on osteoarthritis is one of the main aims. Recent focus is also on integrative genomics in population cohorts, where multiple genomic levels (variation in DNA/RNA/methylation) are combined.


REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH - Linda Broer & André Uitterlinden

Reproductive lifespan in women is the time between menarche and menopause, and the risk for many diseases has been associated with shorter or longer reproductive lifespan (e.g., later menarche is associated with risk for diabetes at older age, while earlier menopausal age is associated with higher risk for osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease). Later menarche and earlier menopause also have an effect on fertility, which in the modern western world is a major problem because women tend to have children at much later age compared to five to six decades ago. Understanding the biology behind these processes will increase our knowledge not only on the reproductive lifespan, but also the effects of menarche and menopause on health at later age.


MICROBIOME - Robert Kraaij

Next Generation Sequencing techniques have allowed detailed profiling of the bacterial community that resides inside the intestine – the so-called microbiome. The microbiome functions to protect the host but is also considered to be involved in disease. The recent advances in microbiome profiling have increased the scientific interest in the function of the microbiome in health and disease. We are profiling microbiome samples from the Rotterdam Study and Generation R cohorts in order to study the association of genetic background, diet, quantitative traits, and diseases with microbiome composition.


MENDELIAN DISEASE - Annemieke Verkerk & Carola Zillikens

Osteoporosis is a main problem in the aging population. However, also in families different forms of osteoporosis segregate as a Mendelian disease. We try to identify genes for these special forms of osteoporosis, that are not caused by mutations in the known COL1A1 and COL1A2 genes, using linkage analysis and exome sequencing.

Also unexplained genetic forms of disturbances in calcium and phosphate metabolism are studied.


CHILDREN SKELETAL HEALTH - Fernando Rivadeneira Ramirez