Marelise Eekhoff is an internist-endocrinologist, associate professor, working as a staff member at the Department of Internal Medicine, Department of Endocrinology of the University Medical Centers Amsterdam, location VU (VUmc), Amsterdam, the Netherlands since 2002.
She completed her internal medical education at the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), Leiden, the Netherlands. She then worked for more than a year in the Intensive Care Unit, followed by her endocrinology studies at the Endocrinology Department of the LUMC in Leiden. In the same period, she conducted her thesis “Paget’s bone disease in the Netherlands: epidemiology, genetics and treatment” (PhD 2004).
Since 2002 she has been working as an internist-endocrinologist in endocrine disorders (diabetes, adrenal gland disorders), in addition to a specific focus on rare bone diseases. Her work encompasses outpatient care, education and research. Her expertise in rare bone diseases includes fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) since 2012. Marelise and her team from Amsterdam UMC – VU are officially recognized as a national center of expertise in FOP (in addition to expertise in osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), fibrous dysplasia (FD, skull), X-linked/genetic osteoporosis and Camurati Engelmann; all part of the Amsterdam Bone Center (ABC).
Marelise and her team are focusing their research on an integrated approach with patients, other researchers and companies to find new diagnostic tools and new treatment methods for FOP (/ rare bone diseases), with treatment for prevention and recovery as the main goal.
Since the establishment of a multidisciplinary team for the care of rare bone diseases at Amsterdam UMC – VU, more than 15 different specialists have been involved, all of whom are committed to FOP and rare bone diseases at Amsterdam UMC, in addition to more than 4 research laboratories. An outpatient follow-up day is organized annually in collaboration with the patients. The Amsterdam Rare Bone disease Center is now known as an international reference center for diagnosis and treatment of FOP, of unknown heterotopic ossifications (HO) and other rare bone diseases. In addition, intensive national and international cooperation has been set up at FOP in the fields of care, imaging, trials and preclinical research.
Several grants have been awarded, including national, international and EU grants, and several doctoral students are involved.
Two preclinical in vitro research models have been developed since 2012, (using a few millimeters of skin and / or extracted teeth when left) to investigate FOP disease activity and
support the understanding of the disease, the different manifestations between patients and to support future (personalized) treatment for patients with FOP. In collaboration with the large imaging center in Amsterdam, it was demonstrated that a targeted imaging tool, 18F NaF PET / CT, was the first tool to assess the biological activity of the disease and to distinguish ossifying from non-ossifying flare-ups. This imaging tool has demonstrated a new understanding of the course of the disease, distinguishing different stages of FOP, and is now used in several clinical studies.
Various international trials for FOP and other rare bone diseases are being conducted in Amsterdam.
Marelise is member of the International Clinical Council on FOP (chair Prof Kaplan, US), chair of the Clinical Trial Committee of the ICC on FOP, member of the international IFOPA FOP Registry Medical Advisory Board, representative of the European FOP consortium and involved in several other boards, such as the organization of the annual Dutch FOP symposia and international workshops on FOP.
She participates in European and international patient consultations about FOP.
Website: VUmc.com – FOP research Amsterdam UMC