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Shiftwork messes with the biological clock. Maaike searches for solutions.

February 12, 2024

PhD candidate Maaike van der Rhee has recently started her project at the Erasmus MC, supervised by dr. Heidi Lammers-van der Holst, dr. Linda van Kerkhof and prof. dr. Bert van der Horst. With millions of shiftworkers worldwide, the need for solutions and advise how to deal with shiftwork conditions is urgent. Shiftworkers risk different health consequences by regularly working at night, including mental effects. Maaike focusses on different aspects and will work towards personalized interventions.

Photo by Maaike van der Rhee

Who are you?

 My name is Maaike van der Rhee, I was born and raised in Amsterdam, but have lived in Germany and Ireland for some time as well. I’m an enthusiastic (though amateur) football player and I recently been taking up running! I’m a lover of the outdoors and anytime there is some sunshine outside I’ll try to get a moment to soak in all the vitamin D!

What is your background?

I’m a broadly interested neuroscientist! I studied at University College Utrecht for my bachelors, where I majored in Neuroscience & Physiology, with a minor in Psychology. For my masters I completed the research master Brain & Cognitive Sciences at the University of Amsterdam, a cool program where I got to explore neuroscience from many different perspectives. I’ve spent some time studying at Jacobs university in Bremen (Germany) as well, and recently had a great experience living in Ireland for an interesting research project at APC microbiome, a research lab at University College Cork.

Where will you work on your project and what is your project about?

I’ll work from the Erasmus MC Occupational Health department. We’ll be looking into shift workers, and whether personalized sleep and nutritional interventions can ameliorate the negative consequences of shift work. We’ll take an interdisciplinary approach and look both at cognition, wellbeing and biomarkers! I hope this research can contribute to better ways of dealing with shift work, so the circadian rhythms in shift workers will be less disturb!

When did you first hear about the biological clock?

I first heard about the biological clock as a first year student. During one of my biological lectures the professor mentioned the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (the central pacemaker in the brain) and I was immediately intrigued by the notion that cells had an internal rhythm!

What is something that people should know about you?

You can wake me up in the middle of the night anytime and tell me we’re going on a hiking trip. My biggest happy place is the mountains! I find hiking to be so exciting and serene at the same time. I was definitely born in the wrong country with this love for altitude, but any chance I get I put my hiking boots on and head towards the Mountains. My favorite hiking trek was the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal – a 10 day hiking trail through the Himalayas, reaching 5.400 m altitude!

Contact Maaike through:

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The BioClock Consortium is funded by the NWA-ORC programme of the Dutch Research Council (NWO; project number 1292.19.077).