With this series of interviews, we want to help VPHi's members get to know one another and involve more and more students in this group, contributing significantly to the Institute's life and the in silico community!
1. Tell us something about yourself!
My name is Christian and I am currently a 3rd year PhD candidate at the Computational Science Lab of the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands where I am working in the field of Computational Biomedicine. I was born in Germany and obtained my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Biomedical Engineering at the Aachen University of Applied Sciences in Aachen, Germany. In my free time I enjoy bouldering, live music and the outdoors.
2. How did you first get involved with the VPHi? What is the most significant added value of being a VPHi student member?
Since my supervisor Prof. Alfons Hoekstra is a director of the VPHi and many other lab colleagues are members, I was introduced to the institute early on during my PhD.
I have found that as a VPHi student member you become part of a community of like-minded researchers in the field of in silico medicine. The many events organized by the institute, such as the VPHi summer school, the VPHi conference and multiple keynote webinars, have enabled me to broaden my knowledge on in silico applications as well as offered an opportunity to build my network.
3. Can you describe your PhD research work in 3 sentences?
My research revolves around the accurate simulation of cellular blood flow in the microvasculature. Due to its composition of plasma and cells, blood is a very complex fluid with unique behavior that enables vital processes such as blood clotting. The simulations I perform offer a more in-depth view on flow behavior and cell interactions than traditional blood experiments, which can help to unravel some of the phenomena occurring in blood flow that are yet to be understood.
4. What is the expected outcome you would like to achieve?
One important topic I am working on is to find differentiating factors between the unwanted clotting behavior that can cause heart attacks and strokes, known as thrombosis, and hemostasis, which is the body’s natural response to stop a bleeding. Both processes rely on similar components within blood, but have vastly different outcomes. I hope my research can help the advancement of anti-thrombotic agents, which are developed to prevent thrombosis and its severe consequences without inhibiting hemostasis.
5. Have you already published any papers as part of your research work? Or have you reached any results that make you proud?
Last year we published this work, investigating blood flow through a curved, U-shaped channel, where we were able to draw parallels between the findings of our simulations and interesting clotting behavior at the inner arc of a curvature:
Spieker, C.J., Závodszky, G., Mouriaux, C. et al. The Effects of Micro-vessel Curvature Induced Elongational Flows on Platelet Adhesion. Ann Biomed Eng 49, 3609–3620 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10439-021-02870-4