Gert Folkerts

Gert Folkerts started his career in 1981 at the Rudolf Magnus Institute for Pharmacology (headed by Prof. David de Wied) at the Medical Faculty of the Utrecht University (UU). He did his thesis on viral infections and asthma at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UU, Promotor Prof. Frans Nijkamp) and was appointed at the Faculty of Science since 1989 (UU). He was visiting scientist at the University of Edmonton (Canada), the Wellcome Research Institute in Beckenham (, UK) and Janssen Research in Beerse (Belgium). In 2003 he was appointed as a full-time professor at the Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences (UIPS, UU). He is editor of The European Journal of Pharmacology and has been the CSO/CEO of the contract research company Curax bv from 1990-2016. From 2010-2016 he was board member of the Scientific Committee of Figon and organizes the yearly symposium of animal models of respiratory diseases on behalf of the Lung Foundation Netherlands.

Research

The Research group of Gert Folkerts focusses on translational research Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). NCDs are not passed from person to person and kill 38 million people each year. They are of long duration and generally have a slow progression. The 4 main types of NCDs are cardiovascular diseases (like heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructed pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma) and diabetes. In 2006, we had a hall mark publication on the pathophysiology of COPD in Nature Medicine on which an NWO-Mozaiek application was granted. In collaboration with Bayer we now further explore this research line with NCE in in vivo experiments and clinical settings. In collaboration with Chiesi, we perform research on regeneration of the lungs with a high technology approach in premature rats with lung damage. Moreover, we have an intensive collaboration with Nutricia Research and based on joint research in animal models of allergy over 20 years, medical nutritional concepts were patented, clinically confirmed and marketed. Moreover, (human milk) oligosaccharides and probiotics were successfully tested in models of diabetes and COPD. Grants from Top Institute Pharma, the Carbohydrate Competence Center and NWO were received on Pharma and Food concepts. Moreover, with grants of the Chinese Research Council and Nutricia, we recently were able to appoint 3 PhD-students on research on to NCDs, like lung and cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Besides physical and mental fitness, high priority should be given to immune fitness to cope with NCDs.

Selected publications

1.     Verheijden KA, Willemsen LE, Braber S, Leusink-Muis T, Jeurink PV, Garssen J, Kraneveld AD, Folkerts G. The development of allergic inflammation in a murine house dust mite asthma model is suppressed by synbiotic mixtures of non-digestible oligosaccharides and Bifidobacterium breve M-16V. Eur J Nutr. 2016 Apr;55(3):1141-51. doi: 10.1007/s00394-015-0928-8.

2.     Abdul Roda M, Fernstrand AM, Redegeld FA, Blalock JE, Gaggar A, Folkerts G. The matrikine PGP as a potential biomarker in COPD. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2015 Jun 1;308(11):L1095-101. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00040.2015.

3.     Bezemer GF, Sagar S, van Bergenhenegouwen J, Georgiou NA, Garssen J, Kraneveld AD, Folkerts G. Dual role of Toll-like receptors in asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Pharmacol Rev. 2012 Apr;64(2):337-58. doi:10.1124/pr.111.004622.

More information can be found on his staff page