dr.ir. Erik van Akker

Senior researcher

  • Tel.: +31 (0) 71 526 9734

  • e.b.van_den_akker@lumc.nl

  • Department of Molecular Epidemiology
    postzone S05-P
    P.O. Box 9600
    2300 RC LEIDEN

Throughout my scientific career I have developed a keen interest in studying the ageing haematopoietic system and its effects on immune-capacity and health. I performed most of my (post)doctoral training within (inter)national collaborative projects NCHA, IDEAL and BBMRI that aimed to elucidate the determinants contributing to healthy ageing. I undertook various omics studies (genetics, transcriptomics, epigenetics, metabolomics) assayed in various human tissues and animal models, leading to a strong analytical background, a broad experience in cross-disciplinary research, and an extensive (international) network. During this period, I specialized on developing methods for the integrative analysis of omics datasets to further our understanding of the molecular aspects of ageing. This resulted in several (co-)authorships in Aging Cell, top ranking journal of my field, including a paper describing a novel framework for meta-analyzing networks of co-expressed genes that jointly change their expression with age in blood (Van den Akker et al. 2014). During this time I started studying the relation between the ageing hematopoietic system, its age-related pre-conditioning to evolve to leukemia, i.e. ‘age-related clonal hematopoiesis’, and its effect on the immune system, as highlighted by various papers, including my most recent publication in Leukemia (van den Akker et al. 20201). In parallel, I initiated collaborations with internationally renowned wetlab-oriented groups that perform (pre-)clinical research in ageing and immunology and thus perfectly complement my computational profile and research interests. This strategy has given me ample opportunity to develop a computational research line on systems immunology, illustrated by various senior authorships (including Cordes et al. Bioinformatics 2019, Melsen et al. J. Immunol 2020), and personal and joint grants. I’m currently funded by the Dutch Research Council on a prestigious early career personal grant (ZonMW-Veni), further supporting the development of an independent research line on systems immunology. Lastly, I have recently joined the management team of the Leiden Center for Computational Oncology to spearhead the development of novel computational tools that provide more insights into tumor heterogeneity and tumor evolution under therapeutic pressure in acute myeloid leukemia.