DCVA Leadership Program

DCVA Leadership Program

The DCVA Leadership Program creates a network of talented and dedicated people who will become future leaders in cardiovascular health. Every two years a group of 15 participants will start the 2-year program, led by Prof. Leon de Windt (Chair of the DCVA Talent Program). The 15 selected talents represent different expertises within the cardiovascular field: fundamental researchers, clinicians, engineers, data analysts, and patients. 

Participants come from various areas of the cardiovascular field and work together in small groups to solve challenging problems given by DCVA partners. Besides three training days, participants collaborate during a trip within the Netherlands (and sometimes abroad). The program requires approximately 0.1 FTE of participants’ time. The application deadline for the next group has passed, and the next session will start in 2025.

Who can join?

We are looking for individuals who:

  • Have multiple years of experience in cardiovascular work (like healthcare, research, patient care, expertise, or entrepreneurship).
  • Enjoy solving complex problems and challenges.
  • Like working in multidisciplinary teams.
  • Master the Dutch language sufficiently.
  • Are driven to contribute to the aims and goals of the DCVA (reduce the impact of cardiovascular diseases).

To give you an idea of our topics and who we are looking for, you can read all about the selected participants and results of the previous DCVA Leadership Programmes below:

Meet the participant

Fifteen talents have been selected as future leaders in cardiovascular research through the inaugural DCVA Leadership Program, which began in September 2020. Chosen from 59 applicants, they are focusing on key topics identified by DCVA partners: healthcare evaluation, research implementation, data management, patient perspectives, and technology utilization. By June 2021, participants successfully completed their first year, presenting findings and recommendations to DCVA partners. The results adressed:

  1. Patient perspectives on welness 
  2. Registry based randomized clinical trial
  3. Implementation of technological innovations
  4. Animal-free innovations

In the second year, teams continued supporting healthcare initiatives and received training from DCVA experts in valorization and public affairs, along with networking opportunities at international organizations.


Meet the participants

Ilze Bot, PhD

  • Associate Professor at Leiden University's BioTherapeutics department.
  • Focuses on atherosclerosis, specifically studying the role of mast cells in its development.

Matthijs Cluitmans, MD, PhD

  • Assistant Professor at Maastricht University's Cardiovascular Research Institute (CARIM).
  • Also serves as a senior scientist at Philips Research, specializing in heart rhythm disorder diagnosis and therapy.

Hanneke Rhodius-Meester, MD, PhD

  • Clinical Geriatrician at Amsterdam UMC's Geriatric Medicine Section.
  • Conducts research on optimizing memory clinic diagnosis using AI tools to aid clinicians.

Frances de Man, PhD

  • Associate Professor at Amsterdam UMC's Pulmonology department.
  • Focuses on clinical and preclinical research related to right heart failure and pulmonary hypertension.

Erik Klok, MD, PhD

  • Professor of Vascular Medicine at Leiden University Medical Center.
  • Conducts epidemiological studies and clinical trials focused on venous thromboembolism.

Dick H.J. Thijssen, PhD

  • Associate Professor at Radboud University Medical Center.
  • Investigates the impact of physical activity on cardiovascular disease development.

Dayenne Zwaagman

  • Cardiovascular disease experience expert and communication specialist at Amsterdam UMC.
  • Advocates for patients, collects their experiences, and raises funds for rare cardiac disease research.

Mira Staphorst, PhD

  • Policy Advisor at the Dutch Heart Foundation and coordinator of the data-infrastructure pillar at DCVA.
  • Manages projects improving research quality and infrastructure in cardiovascular research.

Jorie Versmissen, MD, PhD

  • Internist specializing in vascular medicine and clinical pharmacology at Erasmus MC.
  • Conducts research on hypertension and cardiovascular complications of anticancer therapies.

Jeroen Schaap, MD, PhD, FESC

  • General cardiologist at Amphia Hospital, Breda.
  • Specializes in non-invasive cardiac imaging and conducts research on this topic.

Joost Lumens, PhD

  • Associate Professor at Maastricht University Medical Center (MUMC+).
  • Uses computer models to study heart and circulation functions.

Geert-Jan Geersing, MD, PhD

  • General practitioner and researcher at UMC Utrecht.
  • Focuses on optimizing diagnostic pathways and care strategies for cardiovascular disease.

Maryam Kavousi, MD, PhD

  • Associate Professor of Cardiometabolic Epidemiology at Erasmus MC.
  • Researches cardiovascular disease prevention from a gender-specific perspective.

Linda van Laake, MD, PhD

  • Clinical cardiologist specializing in heart failure at Utrecht University Medical Center.
  • Investigates heart failure and repair at the Regenerative Medicine Center.

Barend Mees, MD, PhD

  • Consultant Vascular & Endovascular Surgeon at MUMC+ Maastricht.
  • Specializes in endovascular treatment and vascular biology research.

From a pool of 46 applicants, fifteen talents have been selected as future leaders in cardiovascular research for the second edition of the DCVA Leadership Program, which began in June 2021.

These talents tackled five challenging topics identified by DCVA partners: "Responsible, valuable cardiovascular science and innovation", "Utilizing wearable data for patient care", "Hartenbank: donor recruitment and retention", "Cardiac rehabilitation", and "Tailor-made regulations for research". Each talent will focus on one of these topics, working in groups of three based on their preferences throughout the two-year program. The results addressed:

  1. Data wearables
  2. Responsible research
  3. Cardiac rehabilitation
  4. Heart Tissue Bank
  5. Laws and Regulations


Meet the participants

Chahinda Ghossein-Doha

  • Cardiologist in training and postdoc researcher at Maastricht University Medical Center.
  • Focuses on reducing cardiovascular disease burden in women through interdisciplinary cardiology-gynecology concepts.

Daan Westenbrink

  • Cardiologist and translational scientist specializing in heart failure and cardiac MRI.
  • Completed PhD at University of Groningen and post-doctoral fellowship at University of California San Diego.

Daniel Bos

  • Clinical Epidemiologist and Assistant Professor at Erasmus MC, Rotterdam.
  • Lecturer and visiting scientist at Harvard School of Public Health and guest professor at KU Leuven.

Jasper Brugts

  • Heart failure cardiologist and clinical epidemiologist at Erasmus MC, Rotterdam.
  • Focuses on large-scale patient data analysis, e-health, and heart failure patient journey.

Jelmer Wolterink

  • Assistant Professor at University of Twente, specializing in cardiovascular medical image analysis using machine learning.
  • Researches novel machine learning techniques for cardiovascular imaging.

Jonathan Coutinho

  • Stroke neurologist at Amsterdam University Medical Centers.
  • Focuses on acute ischemic stroke and cerebral venous thrombosis diagnosis and treatment.

Judith Sluimer

  • Professor of cardiovascular pathophysiology at CARIM, Maastricht University.
  • Investigates vascular dysfunction in aging and atherosclerosis at molecular level.

Kak Khee Yeung

  • Vascular surgeon and Principal Investigator at Amsterdam University Medical Centers.
  • Specializes in advanced endovascular treatment and personalized approaches for aortic diseases.

Maaike Roefs

  • Senior analyst at Netherlands Heart Registration (NHR), Eindhoven.
  • Focuses on IT, data registration, and analysis for improving cardiovascular patient outcomes.

Margot van der Salm-Ravensbergen

  • Nurse practitioner in cardiovascular care at Hadoks and HagaZiekenhuis, The Hague.
  • Works on transmural projects and regional agreements for cardiovascular disease care.

Michiel Coppens

  • Internist vascular medicine at Amsterdam University Medical Centers.
  • Researches blood coagulation disorders including venous thromboembolism and bleeding disorders.

Rogier Veltrop

  • Heart transplant recipient and molecular cell biologist at CARIM, Maastricht University.
  • Investigates cellular responses in cardiomyocytes related to cardiac diseases.

Siroon Bekkering

  • Assistant Professor at Radboud university medical center, Nijmegen.
  • Studies trained innate immunity in human atherosclerosis.

Stefan Koudstaal

  • Cardiologist focusing on heart failure at GHZ Hospital, Gouda.
  • Assistant Professor at UMC Utrecht, researching heart failure using big data.

Ynte Ruigrok

  • Vascular neurologist and Associate Professor at UMC Utrecht.
  • Researches intracranial aneurysms and subarachnoid hemorrhage with a translational approach combining genetics, epidemiology, and imaging.

We are thrilled to announce the launch of our newest group of DCVA Leadership Program candidates! Selected from 33 applicants, 16 individuals focus on a preferred topic within collaborative groups, leveraging their unique expertise and enthusiasm over the next two years. 

  •  Alicia Uijl
  • Clinical epidemiologist and assistant professor at Amsterdam UMC.
  • Specializing in personalized medicine for heart failure using big data.

Annette Neele

  • Assistant professor of Medical Biochemistry at Amsterdam UMC.
  • focusing on monocytes and macrophages in atherosclerosis.

Eileen van Warners

  • Nurse practitioner at Amphia and ZorrooPLUS.
  • Specializing in connecting primary and secondary care for patients with atrial fibrillation and heart failure in Oosterhout.

Erik Groot Jebbink

  • Assistant professor at University of Twente and Technical Physician at Rijnstate hospital, Arnhem. 
  • Researching blood flow-stent interactions using in vitro and in vivo measurements.

Franca Bindels

  • Portfolio manager at WCN.
  • Overseeing industry-driven cardiovascular study portfolio.

Germaine Verwoert

  • Cardiologist and clinical epidemiologist at Basalt rehabilitation, Leiden.
  • Focusing on sport cardiology and complex cardiac rehabilitation.

Ilse Verstraaten

  • Policy advisor and patient representative at Harteraad.
  • Specializing in patient participation in scientific research and quality of care projects.

Jeffrey Kroon

  • Assistant professor of Experimental Vascular Medicine at Amsterdam UMC
  • Studying vascular inflammation and metabolism.

Jesper Hjortnaes

  • Cardiothoracic surgeon and academic researcher at Leiden University Medical Center.
  • Focussing on aortic surgery and engineering myocardial tissue.

Job Verdonschot

  • Clinical geneticist and assistant professor at Maastricht University Medical Center.
  • Researching genetic cardiomyopathies and early disease detection.

Lily Jakulj

  • Nephrologist and researcher at Amsterdam UMC.
  • Studying cardiovascular risk in chronic kidney disease.

Magdalena Harakalova

  • Assistant Professor of translational cardiovascular epigenomics at UMC Utrecht. 
  • Focusing on next-generation sequencing in genetic cardiomyopathies.

Ralf Harskamp

  • General practitioner and assistant professor at Amsterdam UMC.
  • Specializing in community-based early detection and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Sanne Peters

  • Epidemiologist at UMC Utrecht and Imperial College London.
  • Studying sex and gender differences in chronic disease outcomes.

Thomas van Sloten

  • Internist at UMC Utrecht.
  • Focusing on cerebrovascular disease and diabetes.

Yvonne Koop

  • Cardiovascular epidemiologist at UMC Utrecht.
  • Specializing in cardio-oncology and data linkage for cancer and cardiac patients.
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