Jurgen R. Haanstra / Managing Director AIMMS, Lecturer and researcher

Current roles at the VU

  • Assistant professor in the Systems Biology Lab
  • Managing Director of the Amsterdam Institute of Molecular and Life Sciences (AIMMS)
  • Master coordinator Biomolecular Sciences

Current research projects

  1. Together with bachelor and master students, I try to understand how the integration of metabolism and signalling is altered in liver cancer cells compared to the healthy liver.
  2. Together with bachelor and master students, I have several computational and experimental projects on energy metabolism in parasites (see also list of students below)

Background and previous projects

Jurgen Haanstra studied Biomedical Sciences at Utrecht University, with one internship on the impact of stress on food-intake regulating neuropeptides and another on the downstream effects of MAP kinase signalling. He graduated in 2002 and started as a PhD student at VU University in the lab of Dr. Barbara Bakker and Prof. dr. Hans Westerhoff on network-based drug design against glycolysis in the tropical parasite Trypanosoma brucei. In this project he combined mathematical modelling and wet lab experimentation. During this time, he spend 6 months in Heidelberg to study the control and regulation of trypanosome gene expression.

After his PhD, Haanstra was a post-doctoral researcher in the Hematology department of the Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, where he focussed on elucidating the molecular mechanism of leukemogenesis after bone marrow failure. In 2011, he returned to trypanosomes and again combined mathematical modelling with wet lab experiments. He divided his time between his post-doc position at the UMCG Groningen and his position as a guest researcher in the department of Molecular Cell Physiology at VU University Amsterdam and worked on redox metabolism of T. brucei and differential-based drug design. In the latter part of his work he aimed to find drug targets within metabolism that, when targeted, affect the parasite more than the mammalian host. Three times he has hosted the AIMMS-sponsored annual microsymposium on ‘Parasite/Trypanosmatid Metabolism, Drug Design and Glycosomes’ at the VU.


  1. Nilsson, A, Haanstra, JR, Engqvist, M, Gerding, A, Bakker, BM, Klingmüller, U et al.. Quantitative analysis of amino acid metabolism in liver cancer links glutamate excretion to nucleotide synthesis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020;117 (19):10294-10304. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1919250117. PubMed PMID:32341162 PubMed Central PMC7229649.
  2. Nilsson, A, Haanstra, JR, Teusink, B, Nielsen, J. Metabolite Depletion Affects Flux Profiling of Cell Lines. Trends Biochem Sci. 2018;43 (6):395-397. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2018.03.009. PubMed PMID:29656822 .
  3. Bosdriesz, E, Wortel, MT, Haanstra, JR, Wagner, MJ, de la Torre Cortés, P, Teusink, B et al.. Low affinity uniporter carrier proteins can increase net substrate uptake rate by reducing efflux. Sci Rep. 2018;8 (1):5576. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-23528-7. PubMed PMID:29615663 PubMed Central PMC5883050.
  4. Haanstra, JR, Gerding, A, Dolga, AM, Sorgdrager, FJH, Buist-Homan, M, du Toit, F et al.. Targeting pathogen metabolism without collateral damage to the host. Sci Rep. 2017;7 :40406. doi: 10.1038/srep40406. PubMed PMID:28084422 PubMed Central PMC5234033.
  5. Antwi, EB, Haanstra, JR, Ramasamy, G, Jensen, B, Droll, D, Rojas, F et al.. Integrative analysis of the Trypanosoma brucei gene expression cascade predicts differential regulation of mRNA processing and unusual control of ribosomal protein expression. BMC Genomics. 2016;17 :306. doi: 10.1186/s12864-016-2624-3. PubMed PMID:27118143 PubMed Central PMC4845500.
  6. Haanstra, JR, Bakker, BM. Drug target identification through systems biology. Drug Discov Today Technol. 2015;15 :17-22. doi: 10.1016/j.ddtec.2015.06.002. PubMed PMID:26464086 .
  7. Haanstra, JR, González-Marcano, EB, Gualdrón-López, M, Michels, PA. Biogenesis, maintenance and dynamics of glycosomes in trypanosomatid parasites. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016;1863 (5):1038-48. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2015.09.015. PubMed PMID:26384872 .
  8. Alemdehy, MF, Haanstra, JR, de Looper, HW, van Strien, PM, Verhagen-Oldenampsen, J, Caljouw, Y et al.. ICL-induced miR139-3p and miR199a-3p have opposite roles in hematopoietic cell expansion and leukemic transformation. Blood. 2015;125 (25):3937-48. doi: 10.1182/blood-2014-11-612507. PubMed PMID:25778535 .
  9. Haanstra, JR, Bakker, BM, Michels, PA. In or out? On the tightness of glycosomal compartmentalization of metabolites and enzymes in Trypanosoma brucei. Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2014;198 (1):18-28. doi: 10.1016/j.molbiopara.2014.11.004. PubMed PMID:25476771 .
  10. Szöör, B, Haanstra, JR, Gualdrón-López, M, Michels, PA. Evolution, dynamics and specialized functions of glycosomes in metabolism and development of trypanosomatids. Curr Opin Microbiol. 2014;22 :79-87. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2014.09.006. PubMed PMID:25460800 .
  11. Fadda, A, Ryten, M, Droll, D, Rojas, F, Färber, V, Haanstra, JR et al.. Transcriptome-wide analysis of trypanosome mRNA decay reveals complex degradation kinetics and suggests a role for co-transcriptional degradation in determining mRNA levels. Mol Microbiol. 2014;94 (2):307-26. doi: 10.1111/mmi.12764. PubMed PMID:25145465 PubMed Central PMC4285177.
  12. Achcar, F, Fadda, A, Haanstra, JR, Kerkhoven, EJ, Kim, DH, Leroux, AE et al.. The silicon trypanosome: a test case of iterative model extension in systems biology. Adv Microb Physiol. 2014;64 :115-43. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-800143-1.00003-8. PubMed PMID:24797926 PubMed Central PMC4773886.
  13. Leroux, AE, Haanstra, JR, Bakker, BM, Krauth-Siegel, RL. Dissecting the catalytic mechanism of Trypanosoma brucei trypanothione synthetase by kinetic analysis and computational modeling. J Biol Chem. 2013;288 (33):23751-64. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.483289. PubMed PMID:23814051 PubMed Central PMC3745322.
  14. Pieretti, S, Haanstra, JR, Mazet, M, Perozzo, R, Bergamini, C, Prati, F et al.. Naphthoquinone derivatives exert their antitrypanosomal activity via a multi-target mechanism. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2013;7 (1):e2012. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0002012. PubMed PMID:23350008 PubMed Central PMC3547856.
  15. Verhagen-Oldenampsen, JH, Haanstra, JR, van Strien, PM, Valkhof, M, Touw, IP, von Lindern, M et al.. Loss of ercc1 results in a time- and dose-dependent reduction of proliferating early hematopoietic progenitors. Anemia. 2012;2012 :783068. doi: 10.1155/2012/783068. PubMed PMID:22701168 PubMed Central PMC3371671.
  16. Haanstra, JR, van Tuijl, A, van Dam, J, van Winden, W, Tielens, AG, van Hellemond, JJ et al.. Proliferating bloodstream-form Trypanosoma brucei use a negligible part of consumed glucose for anabolic processes. Int J Parasitol. 2012;42 (7):667-73. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2012.04.009. PubMed PMID:22580731 .
  17. Bindels, EM, Havermans, M, Lugthart, S, Erpelinck, C, Wocjtowicz, E, Krivtsov, AV et al.. EVI1 is critical for the pathogenesis of a subset of MLL-AF9-rearranged AMLs. Blood. 2012;119 (24):5838-49. doi: 10.1182/blood-2011-11-393827. PubMed PMID:22553314 PubMed Central PMC3382941.
  18. Beekman, R, Valkhof, MG, Sanders, MA, van Strien, PM, Haanstra, JR, Broeders, L et al.. Sequential gain of mutations in severe congenital neutropenia progressing to acute myeloid leukemia. Blood. 2012;119 (22):5071-7. doi: 10.1182/blood-2012-01-406116. PubMed PMID:22371884 .
  19. Haanstra, JR, Kerkhoven, EJ, van Tuijl, A, Blits, M, Wurst, M, van Nuland, R et al.. A domino effect in drug action: from metabolic assault towards parasite differentiation. Mol Microbiol. 2011;79 (1):94-108. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2010.07435.x. PubMed PMID:21166896 .
  20. Wölfler, A, Danen-van Oorschot, AA, Haanstra, JR, Valkhof, M, Bodner, C, Vroegindeweij, E et al.. Lineage-instructive function of C/EBPα in multipotent hematopoietic cells and early thymic progenitors. Blood. 2010;116 (20):4116-25. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-03-275404. PubMed PMID:20807890 .
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Supervision of students

If you are interested in an internship look at our Internships page for the available openings and contact me.

Bachelor (Bsc) and master (Msc) students

Josan YauwThe role of the FBP-activatable LDH in the metabolism of Schistosoma MansoniMsc2015May - October
Lili Cheng Marco SideriusTHT1-expressing yeastBsc2015March - June
Thijs TinneveldLiver (cancer) metabolismBsc2015March - July
Alina Renz Klaas KrabPersonalized Medicine – Modelling of Tumorigenesis
Bsc2015February - June
Jose Gavalda Garcia Meike Wortel
Marijke Wagner
Membrane low affinity transporter increase net substrate uptake in Saccharomyces cerevisiae: an experimental verificationMsc2015February - June
Elena Merino TejeroQuantification of enzyme activity in HepG2 cells in different nutrient conditionsMsc2015-2016September 2015 - March 2016
Dimitri LindijerModelling the redox pathway in Trypanosoma bruceiBsc2015-2016August 2015 - April 2016 (50%)
Mariah Kes
Eva Mooij
Marijke WagnerQuantification of glycogen and urea/ammonia production in liver cancer cell linesBsc (honours programme 2nd year)2016July
Mandy KoomenThe role of Branched-Chain Amino Acids in Metabolism and Proliferation of HepG2 CellsBsc2016February - June
Nicole GeduldThe carbon balance in liver cancer cellsBsc2016-2017Sept 2016 - Feb 2017
Hakan CicigulThe dynamics of glycolytic enzyme activities after growth factor stimulationGuest researcher2016-2017Okt 2016 - Feb 2017
Daan van den AkkerExploration of constraint-based modeling
approaches for the identification of
hepatocellular carcinoma specific
metabolic pathways
Msc (literature thesis UU)2017May - Aug
Maurice VinkThe dynamics of glycolytic enzyme activities after growth factor stimulationBsc2017Feb - June
Gius KersterMarco SideriusThe effect of HIV protease inhibitors on Trypanosoma bruceiBsc2017Feb - June
Olivier MartinThe role of the FBP-activatable LDH in the metabolism of Schistosoma Mansoni Msc2017Feb - June
Stefan WesterinkAmino acid metabolism in liver (cancer) cellsMsc2017 April - Aug
Annabel DekkerThe dynamics of glycolytic enzyme activities after growth factor stimulationMsc2017-2018Sept 2017 - Feb 2018
Joyce IJspelderGlycolysis as potential target pathway for drugs
against Trypanosoma brucei, Trypanosoma cruzi
and Leishmania
Msc (literature thesis)2018January - July
Glenn MollevangerMetabolism of cancer cell lines HBO/University of Applied Sciences2018February - September
Malu SteenwijkMarijke WagnerDevelopment of assays to screen for inhibitors of glucose transport in Trypanosoma bruceiMsc2018February - June
Thijs van der HeijdenDoes Trypanosoma brucei adapt to glucose transport inhibition?Msc2019January - July
Mick de BreeKill curves of glucose transport inhibitionBsc2019February - May
Deborah JekelRosanne HertzbergerGrowth and metabolims of Lactopbacillus crispatusBsc2019February - May
Marlieke OostdamTowards a semi-highthrougput test system for glucose transport inhibitionMsc2019February - June
Jikke WijningaMetabolism of T. brucei in the adipose tissueMsc (literature thesis)2019March - September
Ritesh PanchoeRosanne HertzbergerGlycogen metabolism of vaginal bacterial speciesMsc2019April - September
Federica SpigaOxygen consumption in liver cancer cellsvolunteer (1st year bachelor)2019August
Claire RibbersEnzyme activities in liver cancer cellsBsc2019September-December
Senin ErmesiliaLiver cancer cells: growth, flux and enzyme activities HBO/University of Applied Sciences2019/2020September - June
Ruben KramerEradication of African sleeping sickness by 2030, possible or not?Bsc (literature thesis2020January
Alexander WoudstraRosanne HertzbergerMetabolism of vaginal bacterial speciesMsc2019November - March
Julia BeetsBottlenecks in liver cancer glycolysisBsc2020February - May
Antoon Kouwenhoven Pranas GrigaitisIntegration of thermodynamics data into large-scale metabolic networksBsc2020February - May
Maaike JanzSemi-high throughput assay for glucose transport inhibitorsMsc2020March - August
Daniel CentanniAntitrypanosomal drugs in the context of inborn errors of metabolismBsc2020April - August
Tom BellemanThe effect of inhibition of glycolytic enzymes in liver cancer cellsBsc2020August - November


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Contact information

Email: j.r.haanstra[at]vu[dot]nl

Systems Biology Lab
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
room O|2 01W57
De Boelelaan 1108
1081 HZ Amsterdam
Tel: 020-5987193