Paediatric Neuroscience

Focus of research

Jaap Oosterlaan (1962) is full professor in Paediatric Neuroscience at the Emma Children's Hospital AMC and department of Pediatrics VU Medical Center. He acts as director of the Follow Me program that is currently developed in the two hospitals. This ambitious program aims to establish follow-up programs for all tertiary care paediatric patients with the ambition to enhance clinical follow-up. Oosterlaan has a background in health sciences, finished his PhD in psychology and became full professor in Paediatric Neuropsychology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam where he continues to have a chair and research group. Oosterlaan is on the board of directors of the institute for postgraduate mental health care education for North Netherlands (RINO) and is permanent member of the Dutch Health Counsel. He has published more than 280 international peer-reviewed papers, with an accompanying h-index of 52 (Web of Science).

Follow Me
The Emma Children's Hospital AMC and department of Pediatrics VU Medical Center have joined forces to set-up an ambitious follow-up program for all tertiary care paediatric patients. Currently the first steps are being taken to implement this follow-up program in the two hospitals for children that have been admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit and children with congenital malformations requiring surgical correction. The program aims to enhance clinical follow-up, fuel scientific research to improve clinical care, and support professional training. Clinical follow-up targets early detection and treatment using a one-stop outpatient approach. Follow Me acts as academic workplace in which clinical practice and research are closely linked. Main aim of the scientific work is routine outcome monitoring: the systematic evaluation of (long-term) effects of disease and treatment with the goal to further optimize clinical care. Finally, Follow Me acts as a platform for clinical training and research training for those disciplines involved in the treatment and care of children and their parents. Please see pour Dutch website for more information on Follow Me.

Oosterlaan’s research program concentrates on two lines of research. One line of research focuses on medical conditions affecting the central nervous system, such as premature birth and traumatic brain injury. This line of research is hosted at the department of Paediatrics of the Emma Children’s Hospital Amsterdam Medical Centre and is carried out in close collaboration with dr. Marsh Konigs. The other line of research targets childhood disruptive behaviour disorders, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and antisocial behaviour. This research is hosted at the section of Clinical Neuropsychology of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and carried out in close collaboration with dr. Marjolein Luman and dr. Hanneke van Ewijk.
The research program targets several aims: (1) to provide a new ways to assess and diagnose brain functioning; (2) to elucidate underlying mechanisms of dysfunction (brain functioning measures are closer to the genetic underpinnings of a disorder, and less influenced by environmental factors than the behavioural manifestation of a disorder); and (3) to develop new treatment approaches to enhance brain function (e.g., training of cognitive and motor functions, physical exercise). The research program employs a broad array of measures including measures of behavioural, cognitive, motor, academic and brain functioning, with special emphasis on measures of brain functioning. Measures include a variety of sophisticated computer based paradigms assessing a broad array of brain functions varying from basic motor skills to higher order cognitive processes. These measures are currently integrated in a battery of tests; the Emma's Toolbox. Brain functioning is assessed using imaging techniques including high density EEG and MRI-based techniques including structural and functional MRI and diffusion tensor imaging.