Women's Health Speaker's Profiles

Environmental Portrait, Dr. Noel Bairey Merz, Cedars Sinai by Bruce Hershey 714 544-8917

Professor Noel Bairey-Merz

Noel Bairey Merz holds the Women’s Guild Endowed Chair in Women’s Health and is Director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center, the Linda Joy Pollin Women’s Heart Health Program, and the Preventive Cardiac Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, Los Angeles, CA, USA. She is also Professor of Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Her research interests include women and cardiovascular disease, mental stress and heart disease, the role of exercise and stress management in reversing disease, and the role of nutrition in heart disease. She has an extensive scientific publication record consisting of over 250 scientific publications, more than 250 abstracts, and numerous book chapters. Currently, she is chair of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-sponsored WISE (Women’s Ischemic Syndrome Evaluation) initiative, which is investigating potential methods for more effective diagnosis and evaluation of coronary artery disease in women.

Women’s Guild Endowed Chair in Women’s Health and is Director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center, the Linda Joy Pollin Women’s Heart Health Program, and the Preventive Cardiac Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, Los Angeles, CA, USA. She is also Professor of Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Her research interests include women and cardiovascular disease, mental stress and heart disease, the role of exercise and stress management in reversing disease, and the role of nutrition in heart disease. She has an extensive scientific publication record consisting of over 250 scientific publications, more than 250 abstracts, and numerous book chapters. Currently, she is chair of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-sponsored WISE (Women’s Ischemic Syndrome Evaluation) initiative, which is investigating potential methods for more effective diagnosis and evaluation of coronary artery disease in women.

Dr-Hans-DuvekotDr. Hans Duvekot
Hans Duvekot works as a maternal-fetal medical specialist at Erasmus MC. His career began in 1987 with a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Maastricht University Hospital, during which he wrote his PhD thesis on maternal cardiovascular adaptation to pregnancy. Since 2003 he is the clinical director of the department of Obstetrics at Erasmus MC. His research is centered on maternal hemodynamic disturbances like pre-eclampsia and the follow-up of these patients. He is supervisor of several PhD candidates. He is also the chairman of the Dutch Obstetrical Guidelines Committee.

Professor Pearl Dykstra

Pearl Dykstra has a chair in Empirical Sociology and is Director of Research of the Department of Public Administration and Sociology at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Previously, she had a chair in Kinship Demography at Utrecht University (2002-2009) and was a senior scientist at the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) in The Hague (1990-2009).

Her publications focus on intergenerational solidarity, aging societies, family change, aging and the life course, and late-life well-being. She is an elected member of the Netherlands Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW, 2004) and Vice-President of the KNAW as of 2011, elected Member of the Dutch Social Sciences Council (SWR, 2006), and elected fellow of the Gerontological Society of America (2010). She received an ERC Advanced Investigator Grant in 2012 for the research project “Families in context”, which will focus on the ways in which policy, economic, and cultural contexts structure interdependence in families. In 2015, she was appointed as member of the High Level Group of scientists who will advise the College of European Commissioners.

BartProfessor Bart Fauser

Bart Fauser is professor of Reproductive Medicine and head of the Department of Reproductive Medicine and Gynecology at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands. He currently acts as visiting Professor University of Siena, Italy (2011), University Southampton, UK (2010-), University of Adelaide, Australia (2014-) and holds a post as senior lecturer at the London Women’s Clinic (2015-), honorary fellow Royal College Obstetrics & Gynecology (RCOG 2015 -). He is the former Editor-in-Chief ‘Human Reproduction Update’ (2001-2007), and is currently an editor of RBM Online (2015-).

His major research interest is pathophysiology of human ovarian function. He has around 365 PubMed publications and Hirsch factor of 72. He has served on many international editorial boards, has been active in many international societies, has been referee for all major journals, and his work has been widely covered in the national and international lay press.


Oscar-FrancoProfessor Oscar Franco
Oscar Franco is professor of preventive medicine at the department of Epidemiology, Erasmus MC, where he is also the principle investigator of the Cardiovascular Epidemiology group. Furthermore, he is the director of ErasmusAGE, a new intergenerational aging research center looking at the impact of lifestyle on aging across the life course. Oscar is fellow of St Edmunds’ College at the University of Cambridge, UK; fellow of the Faculty of Public Health, UK (FFPH); fellow of the European Society of Cardiology (FESC); fellow of the Higher Education Academy of England (HEA); nucleus member of the European Association of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Rehabilitation (EACPR); member of the English Faculty of Public Health (MFPH); and honorary member of the Colombian Diabetes Federation. His main areas of interest are global public health, cardiovascular disease prevention, and healthy aging.



Dr. Arfan Ikram

Arfan Ikram is associate professor and principal investigator for neurological diseases in the Rotterdam Study and principal investigator of the Rotterdam Scan Study. He is also affiliated with the departments of Radiology and Neurology. His research focuses on investigating the etiology of neurological diseases in the elderly, with a particular focus on dementia, Alzheimer’s, stroke, and Parkinson’s. His main area of interest is to elucidate the earliest signs of brain diseases and to understand how these lead to clinical manifestation of disease, through application of neuropsychological testing, advanced neuroimaging, genome-wide and sequencing technology, and, more recently, electronic gait assessment.




Dr. Maryam Kavousi

Maryam Kavousi (MD, PhD, FESC) is assistant professor in cardiovascular disease epidemiology at the Department of Epidemiology at Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She is a fellow of the European Society of Cardiology (FESC). Her main areas of interest are cardiovascular disease/health in women, risk prediction in cardiovascular disease, subclinical measures of atherosclerosis, and healthy aging. Dr. Kavousi is involved in several large international consortia on subclinical measures of atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease among women, and cardiovascular risk prediction. She has received the AXA research grant, the prestigious L’Oréal-UNESCO Fellowship ‘For Women in Science’ , the prestigious VENI research grant from the Dutch Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw), and ranked fourth place in the ‘VIVA400’ list as one of the inspiring and successful women in the Netherlands for 2015 in the category of smart heads.



Professor Ineke Klinge

Ineke Klinge is professor of Gender Medicine at the Institute of Gender in Medicine (GiM)/Charité, Universitätsmedizin, Berlin. She has combined her training in biomedical sciences (specialization Immunology) with gender research. In winter semester 2008-2009 she was guest professor of Gender Medicine at Göttingen University, Germany. She was member of the scientific steering committee of EUGiM (European Curriculum in Gender Medicine) and associate partner of ENGENDER (Inventory of good practices in Europe for promoting gender equity in health). With Londa Schiebinger she directed the Gendered Innovations project (2011-2012) financed by the European Commission, that aimed to develop methods of sex and gender analysis for basic and applied research. She is currently main partner in EUGenMed (2013-2015), financed by FP7, that will produce a roadmap for the implementation of sex and gender in biomedicine and health research, involving all stakeholders in Gender Medicine in Europe (www.eugenmed.eu). She has been appointed at the European Commission as chair of the Horizon 2020 Advisory Group on Gender.

Ellen-LaanDr. Ellen Laan
Ellen Laan is Associate Professor at the Department of Sexology and Psychosomatic Gynaecology of the Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam. As a registered sexologist and healthcare psychologist, she treats patients with sexual problems and somatically unexplained gynaecological problems. She directs a research program studying the biopsychosocial determinants of sexual health, with a specific focus on women’s sexual problems and pleasure. She has written over 150 peer reviewed papers and book chapters, served as president of the International Academy of Sex Research, and was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from the University of Leuven, Belgium, in 2012.


Professor-Joop-LavenProfessor Joop Laven
Joop Laven is professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology. He is the head of the Division of Reproductive Medicine of the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Erasmus MC, the president of the Dutch Society of Reproductive Medicine, and a member of ESHRE, ASRM, the Endocrine Society, the Society of Gynecological Investigation and the Royal Dutch College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. His particular interest is the management of polycystic ovary syndrome; covering the full spectrum of the disease from its effects during adolescence and adult life on the menstrual cycle, fertility and body weight to its cosmetic aspects. Over the last decade, his research has been focused on more fundamental effects of PCOS on quality of life and long-term health risks as well as the genetic basis of the disease. He has recently been involved in Genome Wide Association Studies exploring the genetic basis of PCOS, premature ovarian insufficiency, menarche and menopause. His clinical work is focused on women’s health in particular reproductive endocrinology and menopause as well as on infertility treatment and ART and pregnancy outcome in infertile couples especially women with PCOS. He is also in charge of the Erasmus MC Reproductive Medicine Unit, which performs approximately 2400 IVF cycles per year.

Professor-Angela-MaasProfessor Angela Maas
Angela Maas has worked as a cardiologist for more than 25 years and is specialized in heart disease in women. Since 2003 she runs specific female outpatient cardiology programs. Her main focus is the early recognition of high risk women, menopausal symptoms and recurrent chest pain in women at middle-age. Since May 2012 she works as a full professor of cardiology for women at the Radboud UMC in Nijmegen. She has initiated several multicenter collaborative projects with other disciplines (gynecologists, vascular imaging, epidemiologists, oncologists, primary care, etc) to improve healthy ageing in women. She is currently establishing a tertiary expertise center for microvascular coronary disease and is involved in many educational programs for students and doctors. She received several awards for her work and is listed in the Opzij as top 10 of most powerful women in Dutch healthcare.


Antoinette-Maassen-vd-BrinkDr. Antoinette Maassen van den Brink
Antoinette Maassen van den Brink is an associate professor of pharmacology at the vascular medicine and pharmacology division of the department of Internal Medicine, Erasmus MC. She studied biomedical sciences at Leiden University, followed by a PhD at Erasmus MC, where she investigated the coronary side effects of anti-migraine drugs. Her main area of interest is neurovascular migraine research with a special focus on the influence of female sex hormones on the pathophysiology of migraine. For this research she received the ‘Migraine and Women’s Health Research Award’ from the American Headache Society (twice), and prestigious VENI and VIDI grants from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). She has published over 70 articles in peer-reviewed journals.


Dr-Francesco-Mattace-RasoDr. Francesco Mattace Raso
Francesco Mattace Raso is head of the Section of Geriatric Medicine of Erasmus MC, Rotterdam. He received his PhD on “Age-related structural and functional changes” in 2005. He is involved in several inter-national collaborations as well as in the development of guidelines. He currently leads a research group including 5 PhD candidates. Biomarkers of healthy and diseased aging are his main topics of research.



Annemarie MuldersDr. Annemarie Mulders

Annemarie Mulders works as a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Erasmus MC, University Medical Center, Rotterdam, where she is the head of the Early Pregnancy Unit. Her career began in 2004 with a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Erasmus MC. Before her residency she wrote her thesis on polycystic ovary syndrome. Her broad training as a general obstetrician was followed by expert training in perinatal medicine at Erasmus MC.

In her clinical work she has also special attention for periconceptional care for women with maternal diseases and previous complicated obstetric history. Her research focuses on the effects of maternal disease and embryonic development. Additionally, she is performing research on the implementation of 3D virtual reality ultrasound techniques in daily clinical obstetric practice. Dr. Mulders is the chair of the Dutch Working Group on Early Pregnancy Care.


Margare-ReesProfessor Margaret Rees
Margaret Rees has an international reputation of leadership in women’s midlife health, having undertaken both clinical and laboratory research for over 20 years with national and international collaborations, resulting in over 250 publications. This expertise has been recognized nationally and internationally, including not only a readership in reproductive medicine at Oxford University but also visiting professorships at Glasgow University, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and in the departments of obstetrics and gynecology at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and the University of Turku in Finland. Professor Rees has been editor-in-chief of Maturitas since 2008 and council member of the Committee of Publication Ethics (COPE) since 2005. Her areas of research and clinical interest are menopause and menstrual disorders.


Jeanine-Roeters-van-LennepDr. Jeanine Roeters van Lennep
Jeanine Roeters van Lennep works as an internist, sub-specialized in vascular medicine, at Erasmus MC. She trained in Leiden where she completed her PhD on gender and cardiovascular disease. She supervises the outpatient clinic for cardiovascular genetics and coordinates several projects that promote cardiovascular health in women at high risk of cardiovascular disease.





Jolien-Roos-HesselinkProfessor Jolien Roos-Hesselink
Jolien Roos-Hesselink is director of the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program at the department of Cardiology, Erasmus MC. Furthermore she has a special interest in pregnancy and heart disease. She is a leading expert in this field and is involved in the development of several international guidelines. She is chair of the international registry on pregnancy and heart disease and president of the Thorax Foundation at Erasmus MC.


PHanneke Takkenbergrofessor Hanneke Takkenberg

Hanneke Takkenberg is a professor of Clinical Decision Making in Cardio-Thoracic Interventions. She obtained her MD at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam (’94), and subsequently discovered her passion for clinical research in heart surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, LA (’94-’96). Subsequently she joined Erasmus MC, where she obtained her MSc in Clinical Epidemiology and PhD and started building her research line at the Department of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery. Her research group focuses on prognostication and optimization of clinical decision making, in particular shared decision making, in patients who require heart or lung interventions. Hanneke is also founder and past president of the Erasmus MC Network for female academics VENA, current president of the Erasmus University Network for Female Professors (ENVH), and Chief Diversity Officer at the Erasmus University.

henningtiemeierProfessor Henning Tiemeier

Henning Tiemeier is professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology at the Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus University Medical Center. He is the principle investigator of the psychiatric epidemiology line of the Rotterdam Study and also the principle investigator of child psychiatric and cognitive research line in the Generation R Birth Cohort. He has published more than 200 peer reviewed articles. His main areas of interest are the etiology of common psychiatric disorders with a particular focus on neurodevelopment and neurodegeneration. Other areas of interest are methodological issues in psychiatric epidemiology, the biology of sleep, cortisol day rhythm and supression, genome-wide association analyses, and relation of psychological problems with mortality.

Cherian VargheseDr. Cherian Varghese

Cherian Varghese is coordinator for management of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) at the Department of  Management of NCDs, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention in WHO, Geneva. He was trained in medicine and radiation oncology in India. Additional training obtained with Masters in Epidemiology from Cambridge, UK and Ph.D. from Tampere, Finland. He worked as radiation oncologist and cancer epidemiologist in India, joined WHO in 2001 in India country office, worked in Western Pacific Regional Office in Manila and in the Division of Pacific Technical Support in Fiji in NCD prevention and control before moving to Geneva in 2015. His current responsibilities are in the area of management of CVDs, Cancer, Diabetes and Chronic Respiratory Diseases. He has  published over 60 articles in the field of NCDs.

Petra VerdonkDr. Petra Verdonk

Petra Verdonk is an assistant professor of psychology at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam. She also holds a PhD in gender mainstreaming in medical education and coordinates a learning pathway Interculturalization and Diversity in medical education, as part of professional development training at VU. She has longstanding experience of research and teaching for gender and diversity in medical education. In her research at the Department of Medical Humanities, she focuses on gender and diversity in medical education and in public health.

Dr. Verdonk has developed an instrument for measuring gender awareness in medical students that is currently used in several international research projects. She participated in the Erasmus Long Life Learning programme EUGiM project to develop a curriculum for a flexible Master module in Gender Medicine (2009-2011), and in the Erasmus LLP Culturally Competent Teachers and Medical Education (C2ME) project (2013-2015), aiming towards integrating diversity in medical education and in teach-the-teacher training.

Carola-ZillikensDr. Carola Zillikens
Carola Zillikens is assistant professor of endocrinology at the department of Internal Medicine and head of the calcium and bone outpatient clinic at Erasmus MC. She is president of the Dutch Society for Calcium and Bone Metabolism (NVCB). She is considered an international expert in the field of osteoporosis. She is actively involved in large international consortia aimed at elucidating the genetic background of complex diseases such as osteoporosis and obesity and gene-environment interactions. She is the principle investigator in several multi-center trials on the treatment of osteoporosis.