Dr. Astrid van der Sar

Postal adress

VUMC, dept. MMI

tnv A. van der Sar

De Boelelaan 1107

1081 HZ Amsterdam

O2 gebouw, 06E55

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Personal information

Astrid van der Sar is assistent professor at VU university medical center. After her MSc study in Biology at VU University, she became research associate at the University of Calgary. After this, she completed her PhD in Developmental Biology and Stem Cell Research at the Hubrecht Institute. In 2001, she returned to VU University medical center for a postdoc and subsequently an assistant professor position.

Research interests

My research focuses on the host pathogen interactions during  bacterial infections. In our laboratorium we work with several bacterial pathogens, including gram negative bacteria like salmonella and pseudomona species or gram positive bacteria like staphylococci. Most of all I am interested in studying mycobacterial infections. Pathogenic mycobacteria cause severe diseases such as lepra (Mycobacterium leprae), buruli ulcers (Mycobacterium ulcerans) and tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis).  My main interest is to model tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is world wide a major infectious disease with one third of the human population infected and one and a half million deaths each year. An important characteristic of this disease is the formation of granulomas or tubercles. These structures consist of aggregated cells of the immune system and are believed to protect the host on the one hand, but also to help the bacterium to survive on the other hand. I am particularly interested to understand how these structures are formed and organized. Because granuloma formation is a complex interplay between the mycobacterium and different immune cells, I use a model system, the zebrafish. In zebrafish embryos, innate immune functions are temporally separated from responses mediated by the adaptive immune system that matures only after the larval stage. This feature of zebrafish embryos, together with their external development, optical transparency and genetic tractability, makes them highly useful as an in vivo model for identification of innate host determinants and bacterial virulence factors involved in granuloma formation.