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  • Bram C.J. van der Eerden, Ph.D. - Councilor Candidate

    Associate Professor, Erasmus MC, Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam

    What prior experience do you bring that you believe will help to accomplish or address the Society’s current goals and issues?

    As current President of the international Bone Marrow Adiposity Society, a position I would vacate when elected as member of the ASBMR Council, I have been a strong advocate to implement the core principles of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. As part of the executive leadership team of BMAS, I have actively worked at establishing governance policies that transparently balance gender, geographical and other demographics. To ensure the vibrancy of BMAS, I actively embraced initiatives for early-stage career scientists and to ensure global representation.

    As a Council Member of the IFMRS, I have witnessed the involvement of low- and middle-income countries, which need to be included to effectively abolish musculoskeletal disorders globally. As a long-term active member of ECTS (involved in E-learning, finances, SPCs), my role in the council would be to represent the European continent to further promote global awareness of ASBMR, especially in European inclusiveness target countries.

    What would you like to accomplish during your tenure as a volunteer leader?

    Apart from advocating for DE&I, I aim to revisit bone as a systemic part of the human body that integrates stimuli from other organs. Given the rapidly increasing knowledge base of communication between and within organs, my vision for the society meetings is to further expand our knowledge of muscle, tendon and cartilage tissues as part of the musculoskeletal organ system.

    In addition, I aim to promote the interplay between major organs such as brain, kidney and intestines to revisit mineral homeostasis (kidney-intestine-bone axis) and metabolic disorders (gut/liver-brain-bone axis), which would be excellent choices for future special issues in JBMR and JBMR+ and joint meetings.

    I would advocate for increased engagement of fundamental, clinical investigators including endocrinologists and orthopedic surgeons, but also industry participation to achieve this renewed interest in systemic bone and mineral biology, beyond the continuous effort to develop novel bone anabolic therapies to counter age-related fracture risk.

    What are one or two ideas that you would like to implement to address issues facing our membership and the Society?

    Similar to other societies, ASBMR must maintain a strong focus on the involvement of early-stage career scientists to safeguard the vibrancy of the organization. As the next generation will be the basis for new governance, we must be determined to continue mentorship programs and junior investigator awards to secure commitment and connectivity among junior members as is also done in other societies (e.g., NextGen BMAS, IFMRS Future Global Leaders and ECTS Academy). ASBMR should continue its efforts to maintain its membership attractive by engaging junior investigators in special issues, webinars, working groups, and leadership opportunities.

    Secondly, I would like to advocate for ASBMR to establish geographical inclusiveness, including engagement of scientists from LMICs and ITCs. Geopolitical changes will force global awareness and create opportunities for membership by removing financial barriers. This will eventually create a larger reach for ASBMR to disseminate its scientific knowledge, social philosophy and biomedical impact.

    Biographical Information:

    I grew up in the Netherlands, where I studied Biology at the university of Utrecht and performed my PhD at the Leiden University Medical Center, focusing on growth plate biology and longitudinal bone growth. Since 2002, I work within the Calcium and Bone Metabolism laboratory at the department of Internal Medicine, first under the supervision of my mentor Hans van Leeuwen and since 2015 as group leader. Recently I was appointed as coordinating head of the departmental laboratories, encompassing 10 laboratories on endocrinology, genetics, nephrology, transplantation, metabolism and cardiovascular disease.

    My research has primarily focused on bone anabolic approaches, including the discovery of novel genes and compounds to promote bone formation in vitro and in vivo. These studies ranged from animal studies on calcium channels in my early postdoc period and follistatin thereafter, to human cell models that allowed me to identify genes and compounds that were anabolic to bone, such as CLIC3, TNS3, HSPB7 and parbendazole. Rare bone diseases have always been an in-house focus point in a tandem-like collaboration with my close colleague and internist-endocrinologist Carola Zillikens, where I have performed functional studies in relation to conditions such as hypophosphatemia, atypical femur fractures and craniosynostosis. More recently my team implemented CrispR-Cas9, induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) and organ-on-chip (OoC) technology for human disease modeling to better understand these rare conditions.

    Throughout the years, I realized that working in a team is the most satisfying aspect of doing research and many collaborations have led to great studies that otherwise would be impossible to achieve. Within those collaborations, loyalty and commitment are critical and this has always been my personal priority: commit to what you promise, individually but especially towards the team.

    I have served in different societies, starting with the Dutch Society for Calcium and Bone Metabolism in which I was a treasurer for 6 years. As a long-standing member of the European Calcified Tissues Society (ECTS), I served various roles, including as co-chair of the E-learning action group that a.o. led to the initiation of a successful series of still ongoing webinars. I took part in, and was co-chair of the scientific program committee (SPC) for the 2020 and 2022 annual ECTS meetings, respectively, and served in the Finances and Corporate Engagement action group until recently.

    Over the last 8 years, I became embedded in the international Bone Marrow Adiposity Society (BMAS), being one of the founding executive board members and treasurer in 2017 and currently serving as its president. It is extremely rewarding to see a small society grow up to become a dynamic and by now globally visible society that operates under an extremely friendly and stimulating atmosphere. Witnessing this process up close and being partially responsible for it, taught me a lot about the various aspects that underpin a successful society. Since 2021, I also serve as a council member for the International Federation of Musculoskeletal Research Societies (IFMRS), representing BMAS.

    Having witnessed the success of the ECTS academy and being involved in the BMAS’ development of a NextGen committee focusing on early career scientists through bi-annual Summer Schools, I realize how important it is to maintain a strong focus on the involvement of our future generation of scientists. Needless to say, but critical to keep advocating for, a friendly and transparent environment where everyone feels comfortable and is being heard, is vital for any scientist (and society) to flourish, but especially for early career scientists. Also due to my experiences within IFMRS, I advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion at all career stages but also from a geographical point of view as a huge potential lies in areas of the world where we know too little of, both scientifically and societal but also regarding leadership. Only by having a global perspective, will we be able to fight musculoskeletal diseases effectively.

    Despite regular ASBMR attendance, my career within ASBMR has been modest, varying from different reviewing tasks and being involved in a soon to be finished taskforce paper on the nomenclature of stem cells in the musculoskeletal field. Nevertheless, my experiences within other musculoskeletal societies makes me confident that I can bring new elan to the ASBMR leadership.

    If I were to be elected, I will employ my personal beliefs and strong connections within Europe and beyond to represent ASBMR in a loyal and transparent manner.

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