8 July 2020

Recently, on the first of July, Werner Koopman, theme Metabolic diseases, celebrated his 25th anniversary at the Radboudumc. After his training to become a biochemical engineer, he studied chemistry at the former ‘Catholic University Nijmegen’, followed by a PhD in Cellular Animal Physiology at the same university. During his PhD, he became fascinated by the biochemistry of the living cell and the possibilities to visualize this using a microscope. In the following 25 years, he has expanded this research with great effort at the department of Biochemistry at the Radboudumc.

All these years his creed had been ‘from images to numbers’: microscopy images from biochemical processes in single cells are only informative when you are able to obtain quantitative information from these images, which you can subsequently analyze statistically for large numbers of cells. An excellent description of his approach can be found in his publication in the New England Journal of Medicine (N Engl J Med 2012; 366:1132-1141): a unique approach for which he received great (inter)national recognition, leading to numerous collaborations and participation in large (European) projects.

One of the key points of his research is (dys)function of mitochondria, the powerhouses of our cells. This research has contributed to the establishment of the company Khondrion, which aims to develop therapies to combat mitochondrial diseases. Because of his specific expertise, he was recently given a part-time appointment at the Department of Human and Animal Physiology at Wageningen University and Research, which is an important contribution to the collaboration between both universities.​ ~ Peter Willems


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