Speakers at the Dutch Neuroanatomy Championships

Hans J. ten Donkelaar

Hans J. ten Donkelaar (1946) studied Medicine at the University of Nijmegen (The Netherlands), where he received his M.D. (1974) and Ph.D. (1975). In 1978, he was appointed Associate Professor of Neuroanatomy at the Department of Anatomy and Embryology of that University, where he taught Gross Anatomy and Neuroanatomy.

In 1984, as Vice-President of the Nederlandse Anatomenvereniging, he and Bernard Wood, then Secretary of the Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland, organized the first Joint Meeting of both anatomical associations in Nijmegen. His research interests are developmental and comparative aspects of motor systems, developmental disorders of the CNS and neurodegenerative diseases.

With Rudolf Nieuwenhuys and Charles Nicholson he published The Central Nervous System of Vertebrates (1998, Springer) and with the late Anthony Lohman an anatomy and embryology textbook in Dutch, which is now in its fourth edition (ten Donkelaar HJ, Oostra R-J 2014 Klinische Anatomie en Embryologie. Springer Media/Houten/NL). In 1994, he organized the first European Conference on Comparative Neurobiology in Doorwerth, The Netherlands, the start of a series, the last (ECCN9) was held in Murcia 2019, the next one (ECCN10) will be held in Prague.

In 1998, he came to the Department of Neurology of the Radboud University Medical Centre in Nijmegen to do research on developmental and neurodegenerative diseases. In 2006, he published with Martin Lammens and Akira Hori Clinical Neuroembryology: Development and developmental disorders of the human central nervous system (Springer), which is in its second edition now (2014), and in 2011 Clinical Neuroanatomy: Brain circuitry and its disorders (Springer; a second edition is in preparation). Since 2012, he is Coordinator of the Working Group Neuroanatomy of the Federative International Programme for Anatomical Terminology (FIPAT) of the International Federation of Anatomical Associations (IFAA) and responsible for the Terminologia Neuroanatomica (TNA) published online February 23, 2017 (FIPAT.library.dal.ca/TNA). To promote the TNA, an illustrated version will be published with David Kachlík and R. Shane Tubbs as An Illustrated Terminologia Neuroanatomica: A concise encyclopedia of human neuroanatomy (ten Donkelaar HJ, Kachlík D, Tubbs RS; Springer, Heidelberg, 2018, Heidelberg).

Martijn van den Heuvel

Martijn van den Heuvel was born on the 24th of July 1980 in Gouda, The Netherlands. In 1999 he started his study Cognitive Artificial Intelligence (CKI) at the University of Utrecht. After completing his thesis in 2009 (cum laude), Martijn became fascinated by the emerging field of brain connectomics. Inspired by the view that brain function does not merely result from single regions but emerges from interactions between brain regions, he started an independent research line on MRI brain connectomics. With his expertise he bridges several disciplines, such as mathematics, informatics, psychology and medicine. He currently heads the Dutch Connectome Lab at the Complex Traits Genetics Lab at the VU in Amsterdam supervising a group of enthusiastic PhD and MSc students.

Martijn's goal is to find natural rules that drive the efficient organization of brain networks and to understand how brain complexity is associated with brain functioning in health and disease. Martijn published first work on the rich-club organization of the human connectome, describing a central backbone hub network in the mammalian brain that is not only well-connected to other parts of the brain but also amongst itself. Martijn hypothesizes this anatomical club to play an important role in global communication and integration.

Martijn's current work is on bridging micro- and macroscale features of neural connectivity in health and disease (J Neuroscience 2013, 2015, Biological Psychiatry 2015), linking nanoscale genetics and macroscale connectomics (Biological Psychiatry 2016), examination of rules wiring across species (TiCS 2016) and the examination of principal features of brain organization in the early developing brain (Cerebral Cortex 2015).

Martijn is passionately involved in the dissemination of neuroscience. He enjoys taking part in general science events (e.g. Festival de Beschaving, hersencongres, kopfestival, MAX television Geef om je hersenen) and to be involved in public dissemination of science, for which he made a popular science movie. He is actively involved in teaching connectomics to the next generation of enthusiastic neuroscientists (MSc and PhD level) and always looking for new ways to spread the connectome message (e.g. yearly summerschool, youtube video lectures, online courses).

Martijn published several papers on brain connectomics in health and disease (e.g. PNAS, J Neuroscience, TICS,JAMA Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry). His work is sponsored by grants of MQ (http://www.joinmq.org), Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, Dutch Brain Foundation, Neuroscience Cognition Utrecht and the Dutch Council of Research (NWO). In 2016 he received an NWO-VIDI, in 2015 an international MQ Fellowship (take a look at www.joingmq.org !), in 2013 the Dutch Brain Trophy of the Dutch Brain Foundation and in 2012 an NWO-VENI grant.

Paul Govaert

Paul Govaert stresses the importance of brain anatomy knowledge, when performing brain imaging. He combines his clinical expertise, with profound knowledge of brain structures and elaborate experience in brain imaging using cranial ultrasound. These qualities make him an incredibly interesting speaker for both those interested in the clinic and those interested in the more fundamental aspects of the neonatal brain. In his own words: “At this moment we have just scratched the surface of relating morphological change of the brain to outcome. The junior brain imaging specialist has to become an expert in brain anatomy, including development of brain gyri, if (s)he wants to explore this field in the near future. On top of structure of the parenchyma, vascular anatomy is relatively easily accessible with ultrasound and its development and change with injury are inherent to brain imaging. Only the best neuro-anatomist, with a strong clinical touch and with an eagerness to study texture physics and perfusion will become a future cranial ultrasound champion.”

Tom Ruigrok

Tom Ruigrok started his academic life as a biology student in Leiden, where he was caught by the beautiful world of the nervous system. Starting with a study project on the blowfly brain, followed by a project monitoring regeneration of the goldfish optic nerve (both of which resulted in publications), he did a subsequent PhD study in Utrecht working on a thesis studying the anatomy of the turtle spinal cord. So, after climbing the nervous ladder from insects to fishes and reptiles, it was time for the mammalian brain. First as a postdoc in the lab of Rodolfo Llinás at New York University, where he became acquainted with the anatomy and physiology of the mammalian cerebellum, as well as with one of the sharpest human brains he had yet encountered. His real and long-life mentor in neuroanatomy, however, has been prof. Jan Voogd, who moved from Leiden to become head of the department of Anatomy at the Erasmus University (now Erasmus MC), and graciously offered Tom a research and teaching job in Rotterdam. In Rotterdam, together with Jan, they did many anatomical studies on the organization of input and output connections of the cerebellum. Initially in cats, later rats and, nowadays, mostly mice. The first PhD student Tom was asked to guide through his study turned out to be Chris de Zeeuw, nowadays head of the department of Neuroscience at Erasmus MC and vice-director of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN) in Amsterdam.

Neuroanatomy is a beautiful, intricate and a somewhat undervalued part of the huge neuroscience field. Many scientists believe that, like the anatomy of the human body, the connections within the nervous system are all clear and well described. PhD students and postdocs, regularly knock on my door to ask about certain connections and frequently Tom has to admit that the answer to their query essentially is not known. The basics are typically there, but as usual, the devil is in the details, which are required to really understand what is going on. Luckily, these days there is a really huge wealth of unbelievably clever and beautiful techniques available to study the intricate connections in the brain. Nevertheless, common sense and controls are vital in order to come to relevant conclusions.