Oostra Group – Clinical anatomy and embryology
Anatomy and embryology are the scientific disciplines that study the morphology and (mal)development of organisms. With respect to the human body, these disciplines have a long-standing tradition, which in Amsterdam dates back to Nicolaes Tulp (1593-1674, Figure 1) and the dawn of modern medicine. Our group focusses on the three research lines below, for which we dispose of a body donation program, several osteological collections, a cardiac malformations collection, a biobank of donated embryos and fetuses, and a human taphonomic facility for decomposition studies.
Contact: R.J. Oostra (email@example.com)
1. Clinical Embryology and Dysmorphology
In 2009 the Board of Directors of the Amsterdam UMC, University of Amsterdam recognized the importance of a modern update of the description of human embryology. Therefore they granted a project to construct a 3D Atlas of Human Embryology. This labor-intensive project (Figure 2) has resulted in interactive 3D reconstructions (Figure 3) and a database of the development of the major organ systems in every embryonic stage from their first appearance onwards. This 3D interactive embryology atlas (Figure 4 and 5) was published in Science in 2016 and is made freely available to the scientific community at www.3datlasofhumanembryology.com. Comments, by press, clinicians and researchers, on this publication made clear that the atlas, that now spans human development from 2 weeks to 2 months, should be further extended, covering the fetal period from 2 months of gestation until birth.
The experience that our department gained during the project that resulted in the 3D Atlas of Human Embryology now serves to extend this 3D atlas to the fetal period. Such a project requires more sources of human material. In September 2017 we started the AMC TOP study, in close collaboration with Prof. dr. Raoul Hennekam of the Department of Pediatrics and Prof. dr. Eva Pajkrt of the Department of Gynecology & Obstetrics. This is a unique biobanking opportunity in which parents of healthy and malformed aborted or deceased human fetuses below 24 weeks of pregnancy are given the choice to donate their fetus to science. A 3D Atlas of Human Fetal Anatomy will help in the understanding of the development, growth and positioning of individual organs after the embryonic phase. This knowledge can help interpret clinical images and help explain the etiology of congenital malformations.
2. Physical Anthropology and Taphonomy
Due to a shift in what is considered acceptable evidence in court, much has been changing in the field of forensic anthropology and taphonomy. In an effort to support the scientific research needed to comply with the proposed legal standards several research lines with a forensic focus have been set up in the department. One of these focusses on validating the use of patient CT-data as a reliable and accurate source of information for the validation and development of forensic anthropological techniques which, historically, were developed with the use of large physical human skeletal collections. Given the importance of validation for the continuation of forensic anthropology as a discipline within the legal system and the lack of contemporary large skeletal collections, the search for a reliable alternative data source is of utmost importance. Once the reliability and accuracy of 3D reconstructions (Figure 6) obtained from patient data has been confirmed we aim to proceed by validating techniques regularly applied during forensic anthropological investigations and developing new techniques to further aid biological profiling based on human skeletal remains.
In order to facilitate research in the field of forensic taphonomy a human decomposition research facility was opened in 2018. This facility, ARISTA (Amsterdam Research Initiative for Sub-surface Taphonomy and Anthropology) is the first of its kind in Europe and gives (inter)national researchers the opportunity to investigate various taphonomic processes in environmental condition unique to the Netherlands (Figure 7). The research projects currently facilitated by ARISTA varies from temperature studies in relation to human decomposition and grave detection to entomology. ARISTA only facilitates studies on interred human remains.
The department also has access to three archeological skeletal collections. These collections are included in various osteoarcheological research projects focusing on the development of new techniques to aid in biological profiling and projects with a paleopathological focus. The collections are also key in the physical- and forensic anthropological courses organized by our department to give participants hands-on experience (Figure 8).
3. Functional and Imaging Anatomy
Technological advancements in medical imaging and 3 dimensional (3D) quantitative image analyses provides new ways to study the (functional) anatomy. The projects in this research line focus on the human locomotion system. In cooperation with the departments of Orthopeadic Surgery, Radiology, and Biomedical Engineering and Physics we aim to provide new insights, both at basic science level as well as applicable knowledge and tools. We use Computer Tomography and other imaging modalities in combination with highly accurate and objective image analysis tools (Figure 9). We include human bodies from our body donation program, healthy subjects and patients for our data collection. We have quantified the range of motion of the hindfoot, using geometrical shapes to model the anatomy and made 3D measurements (Figure 10). The current projects focus on the hindfoot alignment, the morphology of the subtalar joints, and imaging under weight bearing conditions.
Bernadette de Bakker, junior lecturer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jordi Vera Melgar, technician
Kenneth Chin, PhD candidate (email@example.com)
Mara Clerkx, senior technician (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Kerri Colman, junior lecturer/PhD candidate (email@example.com)
Yousif Dawood, PhD candidate (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Inge Dijkman, technician (email@example.com)
Petra Habets, senior lecturer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Roeland Kleipool, senior lecturer/PhD candidate (email@example.com)
Tristan Krap, PhD candidate (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Anne-Sophie van der Post, PhD candidate (email@example.com)
Lida van der Merwe, senior lecturer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Roelof-Jan Oostra, head of section (email@example.com)
Inge van der Zaal, secretary (firstname.lastname@example.org)
External PhD candidates
Lucas Boer, PhD candidate (email@example.com)
Tamara Gelderman, PhD candidate (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mike Groen, PhD candidate (email@example.com)