People Dick Thijssen

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Dick Thijssen PhD

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Dick Thijssen associate professor

By setting-up and performing landmark studies on vascular ultrasound, Dick Thijssen has actively contributed to improve our understanding and enhanced the applicability of this technique.

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Dick Thijssen associate professor

During my PhD-work, I have focused on the impact of exercise training in subjects with an increased risk for cerebro-/cardiovascular disease. Subsequently, I received a Rubicon-award to perform post-doctoral research at the Liverpool John Moores University. Through this work, I extended my work on the impact of exercise training into clinical groups (e.g. heart failure). I was privileged to work with world-leading scientists in the area of exercise training (Prof. Green) and physical activity (Prof. Stratton). I have learned various ultrasound-based techniques, including vascular ultrasound. By setting-up and performing landmark studies on vascular ultrasound, I have actively contributed to improve our understanding and enhanced the applicability of this technique. These experiences provided an excellent learning experience to accelerate my research career. Below I have set-out the major areas of my research, specific activities, achievements and plans for the future.

Understanding the impact of exercise

Overwhelming evidence is present to support the benefits of exercise training in the prevention of cardiovascular risk. A significant part of my work relates to understanding the reasons underlying these benefits, especially since traditional cardiovascular risk factors cannot simply explain why exercise leads to health benefits. Specifically I have focused on understanding the hemodynamic factors (pressure, shear stress) that contribute to improvements in vascular health. This work has received significant attention, which is highlighted by recent publication of an invited paper in Physiological Reviews (5-yr IF 35.5) on the impact of hemodynamic factors on vascular adaptation in humans.

Novel techniques in cardiovascular physiology

Making a significant leap in research, developing novel techniques has a major impact. In my previous work, I have gained significant expertise in using the most frequently adopted, non-invasive techniques in cerebro-/cardiovascular physiology. Specifically, I have extensive experience in using the flow-mediated dilation (FMD), which resulted in writing highly cited guidelines for the assessment of FMD, I am currently leading an international working group on reference values for FMD, and I am involved as a lecturer in the international Summerschool on ultrasound/FMD. This indicates that mastering a technique has a major impact. Accordingly, I am developing novel techniques to assess peripheral vascular function (i.e. carotid artery reactivity test) and cardiac function (i.e. deformation-volume loops of the right and left ventricles). These novel techniques allow me to perform state-of-the-art research, request for grants. Moreover these cutting edge techniques show significant clinical potential. This has resulted in the set-up of various clinical follow-up studies in patients.

Novel non-pharmacological interventions

My recent work was strongly focused on manipulating and understanding (hemodynamic) stimuli to enhance the effects of exercise training. Consequently, I have introduced novel strategies to improve the effects of exercise performance, such as (repeated) repeated preconditioning. My role in this area is acknowledged through (invited) reviews and lectures. Moreover, I have also started work on understanding the impact of prolonged sitting and novel strategies to prevent this (including collaboration with industrial partners). These interventions allow my work to have a significant impact on patient’s life, improve health care and prevent future cardiovascular disease.

Personal prizes & awards national & international

  • 2017: Acta Physiologica Rising Star Award - Honourable Mention (awarded for significant career advances and scientific contributions)
  • 2015: Junior Principle Investigator (awarded for the timeframe 2016-2018, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre)
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Personal prizes & awards national & international

  • 2017: Acta Physiologica Rising Star Award - Honourable Mention (awarded for significant career advances and scientific contributions)
  • 2015: Junior Principle Investigator (awarded for the timeframe 2016-2018, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre)
  • 2014: Radboud University Internationalization Prize (awarded for the International Masterclass Cardiovascular Science, collaboration between Radboud University Nijmegen and Liverpool John Moores University)
  • 2012: Honourable Mention at the European Athletics Innovation Award (awarded for the identification of ischemic preconditioning as a tool to improve exercise performance
  • 2012: New Investigator Award from the American College of Sports Medicine (USA)
  • 2012: Junior Principle Investigator (awarded for the timeframe 2013-2015, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre)
  • 2012: Award for outstanding publication track record for 2011 (Dept Physiology, Radboudumc) 
  • 2011: Poster Presentation Award at the international CardioVascularConference (Noordwijkerhout) 
  • 2009: Oded Bar-Or Award for International Scholars from the American College of Sports Medicine (USA)
  • 2008: Young Physiologists Prize for oral presentation at the European College of Sports Science (Estoril, Portugal) 
  • 2004: Young Physiologists Prize for the best oral presentation at the annual Young Physiologists Day 
  • 2003: Annual faculty prize (Biomedical Health Sciences, Radboudumc) for the best MSc-thesis (Department of Biophysics, Prof. Dr. J. Duysens)

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Field of study

Physiology

Research group Cardiovascular physiology and exercise

Dick Thijssen's research group focuses on the field of cardiovascular physiology and physical (in)activity. His work strongly focuses on understanding the impact of exercise training and physical activity on reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

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Radboud Institute for Health Sciences

Ideally, every procedure in clinical practice and public health should take place based on proof, instead of intuition or 'experience'. Our aim is to innovate and personalize healthcare and public health. read more