A Conversation with Doctors

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw how physicians, nurses, caregivers and healthcare facilities worked long hours on the front lines of fighting the virus. Due to their hard work, many lives were saved, clinical research was advanced and vaccines were quickly developed. With all that they have done for society, we believe that they deserve to be honored for their dedication, expertise and care for their patients.

In the Spotlight

On National Doctor’s Day, 30th of March 2023, we interviewed our coordinators and doctors Dasja Pajkrt and Katja Wolthers to talk about their drive to become doctors in the Netherlands.

Aside from coordinating the GUTVIBRATIONS consortium, Dasja Pajkrt is a Pediatric Infectious Diseases Specialist at Emma Children’s Hospital. At the hospital, she treats children with severe infectious diseases. As a Pediatrician, Dasja is passionate about increasing the knowledge of viral pediatric infectious diseases through basic, clinical and translational science.

Dasja Pajkrt, coordinator of GUTVIBRATIONS

The GUTVIBRATIONS consortium is also coordinated by Katja Wolthers, a medical microbiologist and virologist at the Department of Medical Microbiology of the Amsterdam University Medical Centers. As a clinical virologist, Katja is driven by her passion for the laboratory side of virology. She is responsible for providing an accurate and fast diagnosis of viral infections in a patient and advising the treating physician on antiviral

Katja Wolthers, coordinator of GUTVIBRATIONS

With a combined passion for optimizing the general public’s health, increasing awareness of viruses and developing antivirals to stop viral infections, Katja and Dasja joined together to build the GUTVIBRATIONS project.

Developing a gut-brain axis organ-on-chip technology

Organ-on-chip (also known as OoCs) are systems that contain engineered or natural miniature tissues grown inside microfluidic chips. OoC technologies hold promise in accurately mimicking human organs and organ systems in vitro, making it the ideal model to study human viruses and antiviral treatments.

Over the last decade, several excellent OoCs have been developed such as lung-on-chip, blood-brain-barrier (BBB) on-chip and skin-on-chip. However, as doctors and coordinators of our consortium, Katja and Dasja are taking OoC technology to another level by developing a next-generation gut-brain axis organ-on-chip. “At the hospital, I treat children with severe infectious diseases and I see on a daily basis the need for rapid development of viral infections. Organ-on-chip technology has the potential to fulfill this need” said Dasja.

By combining expertise in the fields of organ-on-chip technology, organoids, bioengineering, virology, immunology and cell culturing we will develop a technology that will accurately mimic human organs and organ systems. “With OoC technology, we will develop devices that can better predict the sensitivity of a virus against antivirals and the toxicity of antiviral treatment” Katja stated in the interview.

Honoring our doctors

Although we do not realize it, doctors play a huge role in our lives. We may only see them whenever we are sick, but without them, who will cure us and develop the treatments that will save our lives? We would like to thank Katja and Dasja as well as doctors from all around the world for their contributions to improving our health.