Mireille Sthijns assistant professor at UM campus Venlo

Dear MDR-members,
My name is Mireille Sthijns. In 2014, I started my PhD investigating adaptation processes to antioxidant flavonoids, acrolein and silver nanoparticles in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at Maastricht University. During my PhD, I performed part of the work at the Karolinska Institute (Sweden) and Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine (Germany). To enhance translation of my work, I decided to switch fields and started a post-doc at MERLN supervised by Prof. Vanessa LaPointe, focused at improving current strategies for the development of bioengineered tissues, especially to protect the islets of Langerhans, the functional units of the pancreas. In type 1 diabetes, these islets are damaged and 1% of the people who receive the only current treatment, clinical islet transplantation, need to go back to insulin treatment again within 2 years after transplantation. During, upon and after transplantation, donor islets suffer from stress due to depleted oxygen and nutrient supply. In order to develop a product to protect the islets against these stresses, I proposed to develop a hypoxia-controlling hydrogel to modulate extracellular matrix stiffness. For this project, I received the MDR Young Incentives Talent grant in 2019 and I performed this project both at MERLN and the TU/e in collaboration with Prof. Carlijn Bouten and Prof. Patricia Dankers. This resulted in a newly designed hydrogel, which we are currently characterizing. To enhance the application of my findings even further, I started as an assistant professor in Food Innovation and Health at the Centre of Healthy Eating and Food Innovation at Maastricht University Campus Venlo in September 2020. In Venlo, I will investigate the underlying (metabolic) mechanism of food interventions and innovations and work in close collaboration with clinicians and entrepreneurs. I will determine the clinical effects of these food interventions and innovations on (metabolic) health and disease. My research will focus in particular on muscle functioning, food intake regulation and glucose homeostasis. Hopefully, this will also contribute to enhance clinical application of the hypoxia-controlling hydrogel. In addition, I am very interested in investigating the effects of food innovation on regenerative medicine and the use of tissue engineering to influence food metabolism and optimize health. If you are interested in a collaboration, do not hesitate to contact me by email (
Kind regards,
Mireille Sthijns