Jurgen R. Haanstra / Lecturer and researcher


The aim of my research

Understanding control and regulation of metabolism to reveal selective drug targets in pathogens and other disease-causing cells.

Current research topics

  • Control and regulation in parasite metabolism (Trypanosoma brucei, Schistosoma mansoni)
  • Metabolism of cancer cells (liver cancer, head- and neck cancer)
  • Systematic design of cell culture media.

Some highlights of my research:

  • In-depth analysis of glucose and amino acid metabolism in liver cancer cells (Nilsson, Haanstra et al., 2020)
  • Experimental proof for the model hypothesis that compartmentation of glycolysis in Trypanosoma brucei is essential to prevent a metabolic catastrophe (Haanstra et al., 2008).
  • Proof-of-principle that eukaryotic metabolism can be targeted with limited side-effects to host cells (Haanstra et al., 2017)
  • Understanding control and regulation in gene expression of the eukaryote Trypanosoma brucei – ranging from a three-gene locus (Haanstra et al, 2008) to genome-wide (Antwi et al., 2016)

A combination of wetlab and dry lab methods

My experience spans a broad range in (systems) biology – from wetlab experimentation to computational modelling. Depending on the needs in the project I contributed experimental data (e.g. Nilsson, Haanstra et al., 2020, Bosdriesz et al., 2018), computational models and/or simulations (e.g. Leroux, Haanstra et al., 2013),  or both (e.g. Haanstra et al., 2017, Haanstra et al., 2008)


  • Coordination of the master Biomolecular Sciences. This master has the specialisations Molecular Cell Biology, Biological Chemistry and Molecular Bioinformatics and trains students to become independent researchers.
  • Examiner and lecturer of the bachelor course ‘Systeembiology (Systems biology) for Biology students
  • Lecturer in the master course ‘Parasitologyin which I teach the subject ‘Metabolism of Parasites’
  • Internship supervisor bachelor and master internships 5-10 students each year


  1. Bexkens, ML, Martin, OMF, van den Heuvel, JM, Schmitz, MGJ, Teusink, B, Bakker, BM et al.. The unusual kinetics of lactate dehydrogenase of Schistosoma mansoni and their role in the rapid metabolic switch after penetration of the mammalian host. Int J Parasitol. 2024;54 (7):367-378. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2024.03.005. PubMed PMID:38492780 .
  2. Khartabil, T, van Schaik, RH, Haanstra, JR, Koelewijn, R, Russcher, H, van Hellemond, JJ et al.. The fully automated Sysmex XN-31 hematology analyzer can detect bloodstream form Trypanosoma brucei. Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 2024;108 (4):116193. doi: 10.1016/j.diagmicrobio.2024.116193. PubMed PMID:38295683 .
  3. Nascimento, JF, O Souza, RO, Alencar, MB, Marsiccobetre, S, Murillo, AM, Damasceno, FS et al.. Correction: How much (ATP) does it cost to build a trypanosome? A theoretical study on the quantity of ATP needed to maintain and duplicate a bloodstream-form Trypanosoma brucei cell. PLoS Pathog. 2023;19 (8):e1011617. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1011617. PubMed PMID:37647328 PubMed Central PMC10468029.
  4. Nascimento, JF, Souza, ROO, Alencar, MB, Marsiccobetre, S, Murillo, AM, Damasceno, FS et al.. How much (ATP) does it cost to build a trypanosome? A theoretical study on the quantity of ATP needed to maintain and duplicate a bloodstream-form Trypanosoma brucei cell. PLoS Pathog. 2023;19 (7):e1011522. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1011522. PubMed PMID:37498954 PubMed Central PMC10409291.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 .
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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 .
  11. 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 .
  12. 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 .
  13. 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 .
  14. 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 .
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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 .
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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
Line DignumSemi-high throughput assay for glucose transport inhibitorsMsc2021February - May
Koen WesselsRecycling glucose transport inhibitors Msc2021February - May
Victoria RamirezEunice van Pelt-Kleinjan/Pranas GrigaitisErythroblast genome scale modellingMsc2021February - May
Dora SchüllerPranas GrigaitisErythroblast genome scale modellingMsc2021/2022August - February
Niels MoormanWhich glycolytic enzyme is the bottleneck of glycolytic flux in HepG2?Bsc2021/2022October - February
Ruben BosThe construction and validation of a genome scale metabolic model for T. brucei Msc2022March - July
Emma SnijdersFinding new treatment options against Trypanosoma brucei: glycolysis as a drug targetMsc2022February - June
Sanne PetersThe role of glycerol in adipose tissue manifestation ofmetabolism of Trypanosoma brucei when it resides in the adipose tissueMsc (lit thesis)2021/2022November - January
Leon SteenbergenProbiotic candidates that stimulate a trained immune response against Plasmodium falciparum infectionMsc (lit thesis)2021/2022October - February
Angela PerkovicPranas GrigaitisCreate an improved and expanded genome-scale metabolic model of Trypanosoma brucei Msc2022/2023September - July
Daniel GroskampDissecting metabolism of Head and Neck Cancer cell linesMsc2022/2023September - March
Daniel de BruijnGenome Scale Models for Trypanosomatids: An Assessment of Their Current and Future ValueMsc (lit thesis)2022/2023August - January
Anjani BisseswarThe potential side effects of glucose transport inhibitors on immune cells, pancreatic cells and muscle cellsMsc (lit thesis)2020April - July
Rex SadeghzadehUnderstanding Glycerol consumption by bloodstream-form Trypanosoma bruceiBsc2024February - May
Christiane WaldringThe effect of pyruvate on growth and metabolism of head and neck cancer cellsBsc2024February - May
Juan MontoyaThe effect of pyruvate on growth and metabolism of head and neck cancer cellsBsc2023July - November
Maria Fernandes Pinto FachadaThe effect of pyruvate on growth and metabolism of head and neck cancer cellsBsc2023February - May
Marcello Driel Repurposing glucose transport inhibitors against Trypanosoma brucei
Bsc2023February - June


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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

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