Thomas Hankemeier is full professor of Analytical Biosciences, chair of the Division of Systems Biomedicine and Pharmacology at the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR), and he leads the Analytical Biosciences and Metabolomics group (www.analyticalbiosciences.nl) at the LACDR. He became appointed as Medical Delta professor for Translational Epidemiology at Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, in 2016.
He is recognized worldwide for his research to develop analytical tools for metabolomics-driven systems biology in personalized medicine. His research focusses on improving the coverage of 100’s to 1000’s of metabolites and to obtain quantitative metabolomics data. He developed several innovative analytical and lab-on-a-chip methods to enrich and separate charged compounds to miniaturize metabolomics methods and to make metabolomics methods high throughput.
He has he has established the Metabolomics Facility at Leiden University (www.bmfl.nl), in which more than 2000 metabolites and lipids are measured routinely according to a quality system in more than 30,000 samples/year.
In collaboration with clinicians, biomedical researchers, biostatisticians and other –omics researchers he works on better (early) diagnosis and interventions for (cardio)vascular and metabolic diseases and neurodegenerative diseases. In a systems pharmacology approach he is aiming to identify treatment and prevention options based on these findings. For example, in the H2020 SysMedPD project together with a multidisciplinary team of eight partners he aims to improve the understanding and detection of PD with mitochondrial dysfunction, and to discover and develop novel drug candidates, specifically tailored to patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease with overt mitochondrial dysfunction.
He developed methods to create and manipulate in-vitro 3D cell models of different types of organs. This organ-on-a-chip platform uses a unique microfluidic liquid handling technique called phaseguides and allows to perfuse 3D co-cultures and to create 96 3D tissues that are individually perfused. He can create blood vessels and can co-culture neurons and astrocytes with such systems. He is cofounder of Mimetas, the worldwide first organ-on-a-chip company, which develop predictive microfluidic 3D cell culture models with organotypic properties for better and more reliable customised medicines.
As he is convinced that multidisciplinary networks and consortia are important to achieve breakthroughs, he has been initiator and scientific director of the Netherlands Metabolomics Centre to translate metabolomics research into industrial and clinical applications, a 27 M€ public-private research program from 2008-2013. He is leading the metabolomics research program of X-omics initiative, aiming to improve and integrate metabolomics, proteomics and genomics, that recently received 17 M€ funding from the NWO National Roadmap for Large-Scale Infrastructure.