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Day 2 // Opening session

Keynote 5:

Ron Heeren

10:15 - Chemical microscopy in the Molecular operating theatre of the future

Ron Heeren

Maastricht University, NL

Director M4I

Curriculum vitae

Prof. Dr. Ron M.A. Heeren obtained a PhD degree in technical physics in 1992 at the University of Amsterdam on plasma-surface interactions. He was the research group leader at FOM-AMOLF for macromolecular ion physics and biomolecular imaging mass spectrometry. In 2001 he was appointed professor at the chemistry faculty of Utrecht University lecturing on the physical aspects of biomolecular mass spectrometry. In the period 1995-2015 he has been developing new approaches towards high spatial resolution and high throughput molecular imaging mass spectrometry using Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry and Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption and Ionization. He was the research director for emerging technologies within the Netherlands Proteomics Centre from 2008-2013. In 2012 he co-founded Omics2Image B.V., a company focused on bringing innovative ion detector technology to the analytical market. In 2014 he was appointed as distinguished professor and Limburg Chair at the University of Maastricht where he now is the co-director jointly with Prof. Peter Peters of M4I, , the Maastricht MultiModal Molecular Imaging institute and heads the division of imaging MS. He is the elected treasurer and executive board member of the international mass spectrometry foundation and serves on various editorial boards of peer-reviewed journals. He is and has been active in many professional societies to advance mass spectrometric research, education and professionalization. He is an executive board member of the Indian society of mass spectrometry ISMAS. His publication record encompasses an excess of 200 peer-reviewed publications and his H-index is 37.

His academic research interests are the fundamental studies of the energetics of macromolecular systems, conformational studies of non-covalently bound protein complexes, translational imaging research, high-throughput bioinformatics and the development and validation of new mass spectrometry based proteomic imaging techniques for the life sciences.


Translating basic research into clinical practice, also known as translational research is a crucial step in clinical innovation. In the new Maastricht institute M4I this is done in the form of translational molecular pathology and chemical microscopy. This research is centered around a new generation molecular imaging techniques that provide a direct insight into the molecular complexity of cells and tissues. Imaging techniques are widely used in clinical practice. Everyone has heard of the CT, MRI, ultrasound ultrasound and microscopic techniques used by a pathologist. All of these techniques visualize abnormal structures, such as, for example, tumors in the body. M4I researchers have developed groundbreaking microscopic imaging techniques. Techniques that pinpoint the localtion and identity of the molecules  which are a cause or consequence of a specific disease and/or abnormal tissue structures. The molecular weight distributions are mapped with advanced techniques in cells and tissues. This gives direct insight into tumor heterogeneity and rapidly develops as a diagnostic tool for "precision medicine". The knowledge thus generated can subsequently be applied during an operation in the operating theatre of the future. In this future OR a surgeon can get a direct insight into patient during surgery and tissue-specific information that helps him to make more informed decisions during a procedure. This translational approach will result in improved and more precise patient care and treatment and ultimately will reduce the cost of health care.

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