Clemens A. van Blitterswijk (1957, The Hague) is a Dutch scientist in tissue engineering, a field that aims to replace or regenerate diseased or damaged tissues through a combination of biology and engineering. He has contributed to the use of synthetic biomaterials to heal bone injuries, especially to an approach termed osteoinduction that aims at designing biomaterials that trigger the surrounding cells to form new bone tissue in vivo. One example of this contribution to osteoinduction is a paper published in collaboration with Joost de Bruijn and Huipin Yuan. Following other laboratories, and in collaboration with Jan de Boer, Hemant Unadkat, and others, he has contributed to applying high-throughput screens to select biomaterials, an approach termed materiomics. The scientific publications that include him as an author can be found here.
van Blitterswijk graduated from a bachelor in cell biology at Leiden University. He defended his PhD thesis in 1985 at the same university on artificial ceramic middle ear implants under the supervision of Jan Grot and Klaas De Groot, for which he was awarded the Jean Leray young scientist award from the European Society for Biomaterials in 1987. From 1985 to 1996, he worked on hydroxyapatite biomaterials for middle ear implants under the mentorship of Jan Grot and Klaas De Groot at Leiden University.
In 1996, he left Leiden University and co-founded, along with Klaas De Groot, IsoTis, a former publicly traded life sciences company. He acted as a CEO of IsoTis from 1996 to 2002.
In 2003, at the age of 46, he became a full professor at University of Twente. Between 2008 and 2014, he participated to the foundation and directed the former MIRA institute that became part of the Technical Medical Center. At Twente University, through a collaboration with Jan de Boer, Hemant Unadkat, and others, he contributed to the development of high-throughput approaches to select micrometer-scale surface textures of biomaterials aimed at enhancing specific cellular functions (for example osteoinduction), which resulted in the TopoChip.
In 2012, in parallel to his positions at Twente University, he became a partner of the Life Science Partner (LSP) private investment firm. His prime focus and responsibility within LSP is to invest in private companies.
In 2014, he left Twente University to become a distinguished professor at Maastricht University, while maintaining his activities at LSP. Between 2014 and 2018, he acted as the director and department chair at the MERLN Institute for Technology-Inspired Regenerative Medicine at Maastricht University. In 2015, he was awarded an ERC Advanced grant that aimed at developing microfabricated and microfluidic cell culture platforms for improving mouse organoids reflective of the pancreatic islet, the pituitary gland, and the embryo. Due to his management positions at Maastricht University and at LSP, the conception of this grant application and the research relative to it was done by several other principal investigators at the MERLN Institute. In 2017, he was part of a consortium led by Carlijn Bouten that received a NWO Gravitation grant to develop materials-driven approaches for tissue regeneration.
In 2018 he contributed to the foundation of an international consortium named Regenerative Medicine Crossing Borders; RegMed XB) that aims to bring multiple cures for chronic diseases to market in the next ten years.
He is a fellow of the International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science and Engineering. He has been a member of the Netherlands Academy of Technology and Innovation (AcTI) since 2003, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) since 2012, and the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities (KHMW) since 2016. He is listed as being part of the editorial board of the Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine.
Since the 1990s, he has focused on translating technologies to commercial products. He is registered as a contributor to 34 patents. He has also contributed to several companies and served as CEO of IsoTis from 1996 to 2002. IsoTis subsequently suffered heavy financial losses and was on the verge of bankruptcy before merging with Integra LifeSciences. He became the chairman of Kuros in June 2018.
He has been named the most entrepreneurial scientist in the Netherlands in 2012 and receiving the Huibregtsen award for ground-breaking science with societal impact in 2015.
He is a partner of the Health Economics Funds (HEF) of the European health care investment group Life Sciences Partners (LSP), a healthcare investment firms in Europe. The two HEF funds have raised close to €400 million for technologies that aim at improving the quality of health care while lowering the cost of it, focused specifically on medical devices, diagnostics, and digital health. HEF2, at €280 million, is currently one of the largest fund in Europe dedicated to medical technology.
Over his 30-year career, he has been the official supervisor of over 70 PhD candidates who worked in their large majority as researchers in the laboratories of several principal investigators at the universities of Twente and Maastricht. He has participated to the edition of four textbooks, including one dedicated to tissue engineering.
He has been awarded the following pizes:
- George Winter senior scientist award
- Career Achievement award of the EU Chapter of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society
- Federa award for a major contribution in medical research
- Huibregtsen award for ground-breaking science with societal impact
Ten Major Publications
- Levenberg S, Rouwkema J, Macdonald M, Garfein ES, Kohane DS, Darland DC, Marini R, van Blitterswijk CA, Mulligan RC, D'Amore PA, Langer R (July 2005). "Engineering vascularized skeletal muscle tissue". Nature Biotechnology. 23 (7): 879–84. doi:10.1038/nbt1109. PMID 15965465.
- Moroni L, de Wijn JR, van Blitterswijk CA (March 2006). "3D fiber-deposited scaffolds for tissue engineering: influence of pores geometry and architecture on dynamic mechanical properties". Biomaterials. 27 (7): 974–85. doi:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2005.07.023. PMID 16055183.
- Rouwkema J, de Boer J, Van Blitterswijk CA (September 2006). "Endothelial cells assemble into a 3-dimensional prevascular network in a bone tissue engineering construct". Tissue Engineering. 12 (9): 2685–93. doi:10.1089/ten.2006.12.2685. PMID 16995802.
- Meijer GJ, de Bruijn JD, Koole R, van Blitterswijk CA (February 2007). "Cell-based bone tissue engineering". PLOS Medicine. 4 (2): e9. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040009. PMC 1800310. PMID 17311467.</ref>
- Jukes JM, Both SK, Leusink A, Sterk LM, van Blitterswijk CA, de Boer J (May 2008). "Endochondral bone tissue engineering using embryonic stem cells". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 105 (19): 6840–5. doi:10.1073/pnas.0711662105. PMC 2374550. PMID 18467492.
- Siddappa R, Martens A, Doorn J, Leusink A, Olivo C, Licht R, van Rijn L, Gaspar C, Fodde R, Janssen F, van Blitterswijk C, de Boer J (May 2008). "cAMP/PKA pathway activation in human mesenchymal stem cells in vitro results in robust bone formation in vivo". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 105 (20): 7281–6. doi:10.1073/pnas.0711190105. PMC 2387183. PMID 18490653.
- Yuan H, Fernandes H, Habibovic P, de Boer J, Barradas AM, de Ruiter A, Walsh WR, van Blitterswijk CA, de Bruijn JD (August 2010). "Osteoinductive ceramics as a synthetic alternative to autologous bone grafting". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 107 (31): 13614–9. doi:10.1073/pnas.1003600107. PMC 2922269. PMID 20643969.
- Unadkat HV, Hulsman M, Cornelissen K, Papenburg BJ, Truckenmüller RK, Carpenter AE, Wessling M, Post GF, Uetz M, Reinders MJ, Stamatialis D, van Blitterswijk CA, de Boer J (October 2011). "An algorithm-based topographical biomaterials library to instruct cell fate". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 108 (40): 16565–70. doi:10.1073/pnas.1109861108. PMC 3189082. PMID 21949368.
- Rivron NC, Vrij EJ, Rouwkema J, Le Gac S, van den Berg A, Truckenmüller RK, van Blitterswijk CA (May 2012). "Tissue deformation spatially modulates VEGF signaling and angiogenesis". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 109 (18): 6886–91. doi:10.1073/pnas.1201626109. PMC 3344996. PMID 22511716.
- Danoux C, Sun L, Koçer G, Birgani ZT, Barata D, Barralet J, van Blitterswijk C, Truckenmüller R, Habibovic P (March 2016). "Development of Highly Functional Biomaterials by Decoupling and Recombining Material Properties". Advanced Materials. 28 (9): 1803–8. doi:10.1002/adma.201504589. PMID 26689847.