Bernard van den Berg

Bernard van den Berg did his PhD in Immunology at the University of Leiden in 1999 to the role of antibodies against virulence factors of Bordetella pertussis in the protection against infection. He next changed to the field of vascular biology as a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Medical Physics at the Academic Medical Center (AMC) in Amsterdam with Hans Vink, the Department of Molecular and Vascular Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), Harvard Medical School in Boston (USA) with William C Aird and Robert D, Rosenberg, and Department of Physiology, Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht (CARIM) at Maastricht University, again with Hans Vink. From 2010 he started at the Division of Nephrology of the Einthoven Laboratory for Vascular and Regenerative Medicine of the Leiden University Medical Center in Leiden with Ton Rabelink and Anton Jan van Zonneveld.

At this position, the role of extracellular matrix and glycobiology of endothelial cells and its significance for interaction with neighboring cells has become the main research topic. As part of the regenerative theme he found that loss of hyaluronan surface expression has a profound effect on endothelial stability in kidney, tumor vessels and in critical limb ischemia. From these studies endothelial metabolism was found to be critical for endothelial health.

With the introduction of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) and various differentiation protocols to rebuild human tissue for therapy, medicinal efficacy testing or disease modeling, substantial challenges remain. For organs as complex as the human kidney, its functional unit, the nephron, is composed of >10 different epithelial cell types with supporting vascular and stromal areas that are composed of an even larger array of different cells, comprehension of this complex organ during development and in health and disease has proven to be intricate. Metabolism has been proposed as driver of cell differentiation during development, where intermediates of glycolysis, oxidative phosphorylation and other biosynthetic pathways have been implicated in epigenetic control. In the healthy adult kidney metabolic pathways vary widely from one cell type to another, with tubular epithelial cells depending on mitochondrial respiration and podocytes relying on glycolysis.

To better understand the role of metabolic differences between various cells but also throughout differentiation from hiPSC to kidney organoids we have recently started to setup to unravel spatial metabolic programs. We developed, in collaboration with the LUMC Center of Proteomics and Metabolomics, a novel approach to characterize cellular metabolism at single cell resolution in association with phenotypic and transcriptomic characteristics using high spatial resolution matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry imaging (MALDI-MSI) to detect metabolites and lipids directly on tissue.