Prof. Blanche Schroen graduated in Biological Health Sciences at Maastricht University. Her PhD (2002-2006) at Maastricht University, CARIM, Department of Cardiology, aimed at finding molecular and genetical determinants of heart failure-susceptibility using 'omics' techniques. Subsequently, she performed post-doctoral work on cardiac genetical genomics at Imperial College London, in the lab of Prof. Timothy Aitman (clinical geneticist) and Prof. Stuart Cook (cardiologist), with the support of an NWO Rubicon grant.
In 2008, she returned to the Department of Cardiology at Maastricht University, and started her current research on the role of non-coding RNAs as susceptibility factors for the development of Heart Failure with preserved Ejection Fraction (HFpEF). Personal grants (NWO Veni, Vidi, NHS Dekker senior postdoc) and consortium grants (CVON She-predicts-HF, H2020) allowed to continue studies on cardiac molecular biology and genetics in the context of HFpEF and in close collaboration with Dr Marc van Bilsen (Dept of Physiology) and cardiologist Dr Vanessa van Empel. In particular, research focusses on the role of non-coding RNAs in pathophysiological processes underlying HFpEF, including inflammation, microvascular dysfunction, fibrosis and cardiomyocyte remodeling. Hence the title of her chair is ‘Experimental Cardiology, in particular diastolic dysfunction’.
The laboratory of Experimental Cardiology is part of the Department of Cardiology and of the Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht (CARIM). The lab finds its home base at the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences (FHML) of Maastricht university. Within this lab, the research team that is supervised by Prof. Blanche Schroen, Dr Marc van Bilsen and Dr Vanessa van Empel, aims at the unravelling of the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying heart failure, with a particular focus on heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) and diastolic dysfunction.
The team has a broad scientific interest in cellular and molecular mechanisms in the diseased heart, including the role of immune cells, fibroblasts and the microvasculature in the progression towards HFpEF. In addition, the team has expertise in metabolic determinants of cardiomyocyte function. These cellular aspects of heart failure development are investigated predominantly by focussing on the role of non-coding RNAs within the different cell types. As a basis for the research conducted within the group, the impact of systemic diseases like hypertension, diabetes and obesity on the heart is considered central to the progression towards heart failure and HFpEF.