Initially trained in clinical chemistry and hematology at the University of Applied Science, Prof. Leon Schurgers obtained his PhD at the Department of Biochemistry within CARIM on the role of vitamin K1 and K2 on bone metabolism and cardiovascular disease. He worked as post-doc on a Dutch Heart Foundation grant on the role of matrix Gla-protein synthesized by vascular smooth muscle cell and calcification in collaboration with the group of Prof. Catherine Shanahan (Cambridge, UK).
In 2009, he was appointed on a tenured position at the Department of Biochemistry. After entering the Toptalent programme (Maastricht UMC+) in 2016, he was appointed as Professor of Biochemistry of Vascular Calcification in 2017. He is vice-chair of the department of Biochemistry.
The focus of his current work is elucidating the molecular mechanisms of vitamin K-dependent proteins (VKDP) by which vascular calcification is initiated and propagated. Key cellular events include activation and apoptosis of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) and the formation of extracellular vesicles containing VKDP. The regulation of VKDP biosynthesis, its sites of action and its putative relationship with VSMC phenotypic switching is insufficient to understand the pathogenesis of vascular calcification at a level that allows the development of novel diagnostic tools and therapeutic strategies for VKDP. Importantly, our work will help to understand the paradoxal observation that patients with low vitamin K-status during oral anticoagulant treatment develop enhanced vascular calcification and our results might provide new insights in prognostic and preventive measures.
He is Chairman of the steering scientific board on the world-wide quality assurance scheme for vitamin K detection and member of the scientific advisory boards of the Dutch Kidney foundation, the Dutch Thrombosis society and NWO Life Science and Health.