dr. S.W. (Sander) van der Laan

dr. S.W. (Sander) van der Laan

Assistant Professor
dr. S.W. (Sander) van der Laan
  • CDL Research

Research Programs

Circulatory Health



I am an assistant professor at the Central Diagnostics Laboratory which is part of the Circulatory Health Program at the University Medical Center Utrecht and University of Utrecht and work with professor dr. Gerard Pasterkamp and professor dr. Folkert W. Asselbergs. My research interest is focused on the genetic and epigenetic causes of carotid and coronary atherosclerosis underlying ischemic stroke (IS) and coronary artery disease (CAD), and their intermediate traits such as carotid intima media thickness (cIMT) and arterial calcification. Large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified hundreds of genetic loci robustly associated to these diseases and traits. With my work I ultimately aim to move from GWAS loci to novel therapeutic targets for cardiovascular diseases through extensive in silico, and in vitro modeling.

As a means to this end, I am currently working on integrating Bayesian fine-mapping methodology, co-localization, causal inference through Mendelian Randomization, expression and methylation quantitative trait loci analyses, GWAS, single-cell RNA sequencing, and plaque characterization based on high-throughput imaging of histological slides and machine learning algorithms. This has resulted in the identification of 28 loci with a substrate in plaques that harbor genes potentially causal to atherosclerosis and amenable to therapy. We are currently pursuing several targets in vitro.

My vision is that this holistic approach will identify the truly viable targets to feed the drug developmental pipeline to combat the cardiovascular disease epidemic. This approach is entirely human-centered and does not involved new in vivo experiments.

I actively contributed to the International Stroke Genetics Consortium. In addition, I made some contributions to international consortia, including GENIUS-CHDGIANTGLGCGoDMC, and various other international consortia.

Since 2011 I am (or was) a member of the European Atherosclerosis Society, European Society of Human Genetics, American Society of Human Genetics, the Nederlands Verenging voor Humane Genetica, and the European Society of Cardiology.

I support and promote principles of Open Science by letting values of quality and integrity, science for the benefit of all, fairness, equity, diversity and inclusiveness guide my work. I value transparency, reproducibility, and critique, accountability, responsibility, and collaboration. The Future of Science is Open, as is my Science.

I hold a degree in Biology (BSc) and Medical Biology (MSc) from the Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands. I obtained my PhD in 2016 entitled "The genetics of carotid atherosclerosis - Associations with clinical outcome and histological plaque characteristics" under supervision of professor Gerard Pasterkamp, professor Paul I.W. de Bakker, and doctor Jessica van Setten.

This work is covered through various (inter)national collaborative grant programs: CVON-GENIUS2 funded by the Dutch Heart Foundation (DHF, grant-number: CVON 2017-20), ERA-CVD ‘druggable-MI-targets’ in part funded by the DHF (grant-number: JTC2017-40-2017T096), H2020 'TO_AITION', EWUU-Alliance, HealthHolland-TKI, and Leducq Fondation (PlaqOmics).

Fellowship and Awards

I applied and received the following grants.

2019-09 to 2020-09SIG “DEEP-ENIGMA” | € 5,000.- | Collaborative Grant together with dr. D. Hessen, and dr. A. Bagheri.

2019-09 to 2020-09SIG “ELSIE” | in kind | Collaborative Grant together with professor dr. Aletta D. Kraneveld, professor dr. D. Oberski, and A. López-Rincón.

2019-05 to 2020-05SIG “CONVOCALS” | € 5,000.- | Collaborative Grant together with dr. A. Bagheri, and T. van de Kerkhof.

2020-01 to 2025-01: H2020 (EU) "TO_AITION" | € 473,750.- | Collaborative Grant together with professor dr. G. Pasterkamp, dr. M. Mokry, and dr. I. Höfer.

2017-09 to 2019-09: ERA-CVD JCT 2017 (EU; JTC2017-40-2017T096) “druggable-MI-genes” | € 250,000.- | Collaborative Grant together with professor dr. Folkert W. Asselbergs.

2015-06 to 2015-06: Jaap Schouten Foundation (Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands) “Travel Grant” | € 1,500.- | European Society of Human Genetics Conference 2015.

2013-2014: BBMRI-NL (Leiden, Netherlands) “Genotyping of the Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm-Express Biobank Study” | € 50,000.- | Grant number: CP2013-63.

Research Output (91)

Effect of tissue-grouped regulatory variants associated to type 2 diabetes in related secondary outcomes

Hemerich Daiane, Smit Roelof A J, Preuss Michael, Stalbow Lauren, van der Laan Sander W, Asselbergs Folkert W, van Setten Jessica, Tragante Vinicius Dec 2023, In: Scientific Reports. 13

The accumulation of erythrocytes quantified and visualized by Glycophorin C in carotid atherosclerotic plaque reflects intraplaque hemorrhage and pre-procedural neurological symptoms

Mekke Joost M, Sakkers Tim R, Verwer Maarten C, van den Dungen Noortje A M, Song Yipei, Miller Clint L, Finn Aloke V, Pasterkamp Gerard, Mokry Michal, den Ruijter Hester M, Vink Aryan, de Kleijn Dominique P V, de Borst Gert J, Haitjema Saskia, van der Laan Sander W Dec 2023, In: Scientific Reports. 13 15 p.

Multi-ancestry genome-wide study identifies effector genes and druggable pathways for coronary artery calcification

Kavousi Maryam et al. 28 Sep 2023, In: Nature Genetics. 55 , p. 1651-1664 14 p.

Proteomic Atlas of Atherosclerosis:The Contribution of Proteoglycans to Sex Differences, Plaque Phenotypes, and Outcomes

Theofilatos Konstantinos, Stojkovic Stefan, Hasman Maria, van der Laan Sander W, Baig Ferheen, Barallobre-Barreiro Javier, Schmidt Lukas, Yin Siqi, Yin Xiaoke, Burnap Sean, Singh Bhawana, Popham Jude, Harkot Olesya, Kampf Stephanie, Nackenhorst Maja Carina, Strassl Andreas, Loewe Christian, Demyanets Svitlana, Neumayer Christoph, Bilban Martin, Hengstenberg Christian, Huber Kurt, Pasterkamp Gerard, Wojta Johann, Mayr Manuel 30 Aug 2023, In: Circulation research. 133 , p. 542-558 17 p.

X chromosome inactivation skewing is common in advanced carotid atherosclerotic lesions in females and predicts secondary peripheral artery events

Buono Michele F, Benavente Ernest Diez, Daniels Mark, Mol Barend M, Mekke Joost M, de Borst Gert J, de Kleijn Dominique P V, van der Laan Sander W, Pasterkamp Gerard, Onland-Moret Charlotte, Mokry Michal, den Ruijter Hester M 5 Jul 2023, In: Biology of Sex Differences. 14 12 p.

Characteristics of peripheral blood cells are independently related to major adverse cardiovascular events after carotid endarterectomy

Overmars L. Malin, Mekke Joost M., van Solinge Wouter W., De Jager Saskia C.A., Hulsbergen-Veelken Cornelia A.R., Hoefer Imo E., de Kleijn Dominique P.V., de Borst Gert J., van der Laan Sander W., Haitjema Saskia Jun 2023, In: Atherosclerosis Plus. 52 , p. 32-40 9 p.

Author Correction:The power of genetic diversity in genome-wide association studies of lipids (Nature, (2021), 600, 7890, (675-679), 10.1038/s41586-021-04064-3)

Graham Sarah E, Clarke Shoa L, Wu Kuan-Han H, Kanoni Stavroula, Zajac Greg J M, Ramdas Shweta, Surakka Ida, Ntalla Ioanna, Vedantam Sailaja, Winkler Thomas W, Locke Adam E, Marouli Eirini, Hwang Mi Yeong, Han Sohee, Narita Akira, Choudhury Ananyo, Bentley Amy R, Ekoru Kenneth, Verma Anurag, Trivedi Bhavi, Martin Hilary C, Hunt Karen A, Hui Qin, Klarin Derek, Zhu Xiang, Thorleifsson Gudmar, Helgadottir Anna, Gudbjartsson Daniel F, Holm Hilma, Olafsson Isleifur, Akiyama Masato, Sakaue Saori, Terao Chikashi, Kanai Masahiro, Zhou Wei, Brumpton Ben M, Rasheed Humaira, Ruotsalainen Sanni E, Havulinna Aki S, van der Laan Sander W, van Setten Jessica, de Kleijn Dominique, de Borst Gert J, Asselbergs Folkert W, Kraaijeveld Adriaan O, Beulens Joline W J, Pasterkamp Gerard, Hoefer Imo E, van der Harst Pim, Holmes Michael V, 26 May 2023, In: Nature. 618 , p. E19-E20

Druggable proteins influencing cardiac structure and function:Implications for heart failure therapies and cancer cardiotoxicity

Schmidt Amand F, Bourfiss Mimount, Alasiri Abdulrahman, Puyol-Anton Esther, Chopade Sandesh, van Vugt Marion, van der Laan Sander W, Gross Christian, Clarkson Chris, Henry Albert, Lumbers Tom R, van der Harst Pim, Franceschini Nora, Bis Joshua C, Velthuis Birgitta K, Te Riele Anneline S J M, Hingorani Aroon D, Ruijsink Bram, Asselbergs Folkert W, van Setten Jessica, Finan Chris 28 Apr 2023, In: Science advances. 9 17 p.

Proteogenomic integration reveals CXCL10 as a potentially downstream causal mediator for IL-6 signaling on atherosclerosis

Prapiadou Savvina, Živković Luka, Thorand Barbara, George Marc J, van der Laan Sander W, Malik Rainer, Herder Christian, Koenig Wolfgang, Ueland Thor, Kleveland Ola, Aukrust Pal, Gullestad Lars, Bernhagen Jürgen, Pasterkamp Gerard, Peters Annette, Hingorani Aroon D, Rosand Jonathan, Dichgans Martin, Anderson Christopher D, Georgakis Marios K 28 Mar 2023,

An automatic entropy method to efficiently mask histology whole-slide images

Song Yipei, Cisternino Francesco, Mekke Joost M, de Borst Gert J, de Kleijn Dominique P V, Pasterkamp Gerard, Vink Aryan, Glastonbury Craig A, van der Laan Sander W, Miller Clint L 15 Mar 2023, In: Scientific Reports. 13

All research output

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