Our team

"With joy, we work together in an inspiring environment to create better opportunities for youth to grow up from happy, healthy children to happy, healthy adults."

- Team Dream -

We are:

movement scientists,
nutrition scientists
epidemiologists,
preventive youth health doctors,
health scientists,
anthropologists,
psychologists,
architects,
and social policy scientists.

Mai dreams of a world where children grow up healthy and happy. Mai is fascinated by why we do what we do and how this affects health, with particular interest in youth. She combines her scientific expertise in human movement science and epidemiology to unravel working mechanisms using innovative methodologies, exploring unique intervention strategies and creatively combining multiple disciplines. She was awarded University Research Chair professor at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam. Growing up in a multicultural family, she learned to observe the world from various perspectives, enjoy diversity, believe in serendipity and search beyond the unexpected. This sculpted her unique scientific frame of mind.

Prof. Dr. Mai Chin A Paw

Section Chair

As a human movement scientist, I obtained my PhD degree on muscle physiology. Since 2010 I work at the VU University medical center, within the section Child Health & Care research. I am interested in research related to youth physical activity and sedentary behaviour. In my work, I examine which behavioural patterns are most detrimental, and how they can be improved to maximize child and teen health. As children are the experts of their own lives, I'm not only doing research on children, but I also collaborate with them.

Dr. Teatske Altenburg

Associate Professor

Mariëtte's background is developmental and theoretical psychology. She obtained my PhD with the thesis Learning through participation. The communication between young children and their caregivers in informal learning and tutoring situations. Utrecht University (1995). She was a post-doc at Utrecht University on professional communication with parents in youth care. Since 1998 she focused on accessibility and quality of health care in relation to diversity and exclusion mechanisms.She always strives for sharing knowledge, experience and expertise between (academic) researchers, professionals in health care and policy makers. Since 2014, she is coordinator of the Academic Collaborative Centre for Public Child Health Care (Academische Werkplaats JGZ).

Dr. Mariëtte Hoogsteder

Coordinator of Child and Youth Health care Academic Collaborative Center

After my PhD at the department of biological psychology at the VU, I have been working as an epidemiologist at the department of social medicine at the AMC since 2001. I have been project leader of the ABCD study since 2010. The aim of this study is to investigate early life factors that contribute to optimal health and development of children from pregnancy onwards. Besides teaching and coordinating various data collections and researches with ABCD data, my personal interest lies in the field of overweight and cardiovascular development of children and explaining socio-economic and ethnic differences.

Dr. Tanja Vrijkotte

Project leader - ABCD Study

After my master’s degree in International Public Health at the VU, I have worked for 12 years as a researcher at the Public Health Service Amsterdam. In collaboration with the Public Health Service Amsterdam, I obtained my PhD degree on the early detection and measurement of anxiety and depression in children and adolescents in a Dutch public health setting at the section Child and Adolescent Public Health Research & Innovation of Amsterdam UMC. In this section, I have worked since 2023 as a senior researcher for the international research project YoPA. In co-creation with teenagers in four countries, YoPA aims to tailor, implement, and evaluate social and physical environmental interventions for the improvement of their lifestyle, health and wellbeing.

dr. Leonie Klaufus

Senior researcher

As a PhD holder in Artificial Intelligence, I am engaged in pioneering research and innovation, driving positive transformations in individuals' health behaviours through applying advanced artificial intelligence techniques. Currently, I am working as a researcher in LABDA, toward advancing the analysis method of child and adolescent movement data. With a wealth of knowledge and a commitment to improving public health, I am at the forefront of revolutionizing healthcare through technology and data analysis.

dr. Fawad Taj

Senior researcher

Because of my interest in health promotion, I started in June 2016 as a researcher in training at the Amsterdam UMC (location VUmc) within the Child and Adolescent Public Health section and the GGD Amsterdam, at the Amsterdam Approach to Healthy Weight and Sarphati Amsterdam, research for healthy living. The project involves developing a preventive intervention using Intervention Mapping to stimulate healthy sleeping behavior among Amsterdam children aged 6-9 years.

dr. Laura Belmon

Post-doc

I am a doctor of Society and Health profile Youth at the GGD Amsterdam and a PhD candidate at the Amsterdam UMC. My PhD trajectory arose from a personal desire to improve sleep and the health effects of sleep in newborns. In my studies I use data from the ABCD study, the Sarphati cohort and from a randomized study at the UvA. The results should be usable in practice as much as possible.

dr. Margreet Harskamp-van Ginkel, MD

Doctor-researcher

dr. Sumayah Vandenbussche

Lecturer

Albertine Baauw, MSc.

PhD candidate

In order to better understand and help people through the use of computers, I specialized during my master Artificial Intelligence in studying cognitive processes through various AI techniques. In 2019 I started as a junior researcher within the My Little Moves project. On the one hand I am involved in developing a method for measuring movements in young children and on the other hand translating movement data into sequence maps, which specify how different movement intensities are varied during the day. It really appeals to me that I can contribute to healthcare through a technical approach.

Annelinde Lettink, MSc.

PhD candidate

Bianca Fortuin, MSc.

PhD candidate

After finishing my University of Applied Sciences study in Life sciences I decided to start the premaster and Master Health Sciences. In August 2023 I graduated for my Masters and since October I started working as research assistant at the ABCD-study. For my Master thesis I could use data from the ABCD-study to look into the association of cardio-metabolic profiles and dysmenorrhea in girls aged 15/16. Research in general has my interest and therefore I am happy to contribute to gathering new data for the ABCD-study.

Cathy Brouwer, MSc.

Researcher

After completing the Research Masters in Global Health from the VU and working for two years as a junior researcher and lecturer at the Athena Institute, I have developed a particular interest and expertise in participatory methods and working across the disciplines of technology and public health. Building on this knowledge, I have the opportunity as a PhD candidate on the EU-funded SmartCHANGE project to explore co-creation/participation with numerous stakeholders across four different countries. By designing a risk-prediction app that uses Explainable AI, the project aims to prevent illness later in live by fostering healthy lifestyle/habits in children and youth.

Claudia Dictus, MSc.

PhD candidate

I am Dee-dee and I am a research assistant for the project VMBO Sport Lab to facilitate physical activity for students enrolled in VMBO. After graduating in 2011 with my BA in Exercise Science, I grew more interested in how to use research to develop tools and strategies for behavior change. I graduated in 2015 with my Master in Public Health with a focus in health education. Since then, I’ve worked on a variety of themes within adolescent health, such as physical activity, sexual health, and positive youth development programs. I’ve also worked on university student wellness programs, and developed coursework and curricula for students studying to become substance use disorder therapists.

Dee-dee Gintel, MSc.

Research assistant

After a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Health, I completed the master's degree in Health and Society at Wageningen University Research Center in 2016. Within this master I focused on stimulating healthy dietary behavior in children, and I conducted research both at home and abroad. Since July 2016, I have been working as a Researcher in Training at VUmc Social Medicine in collaboration with the GGD Amsterdam. I am committed to evaluating Jump-in's healthy food policy. Jump-in supports primary schools in underprivileged neighborhoods in Amsterdam to promote healthy encourage physical activity and eating behavior among their students.

Froukje Takens, MSc.

PhD candidate

As a Marie Curie PhD fellow in the LABDA project, my goal is to highlight social clusters based on intersections of social identities, to understand better which groups are more at risk of not meeting the physical activity guidelines for a healthy lifestyle. I aim to develop methods for applying intersectionality analysis in the field of 24/7 movement behaviors and to reduce health inequalities through my research. With my results, I aim to inform targeted public policies and public health interventions aimed at improving the overall level of physical activity and reducing sedentary behavior.

Gaia Segantin, MSc.

PhD candidate

In 2020 heb ik de Research Master in Health Sciences afgerond aan de Erasmus Universiteit. Gedurende mijn opleiding heb ik onderzoek gedaan naar sociaaleconomische ongelijkheid van kankerscreening gebruik in Europa. Ik streef naar een gezond Nederland waarin de jeugd kansrijk kan opgroeien. Mede hierom ben ik begonnen als promovenda bij J&G. Mijn promotieonderzoek in samenwerking met het Urban Mental Health Centrum richt zich op het ontstaan van affectieve en verslavingsstoornissen bij jongeren in een grootstedelijke context. Daarnaast draag ik bij aan een nieuwe onderzoeksfase binnen de ABCD-cohort waarbij de mentale gezondheid en welzijn van adolescenten in kaart wordt gebracht.

Hanan Bozhar, MSc.

PhD candidate

After my bachelor 'Health and Life', I did the master Management, Policy Analysis, and Entrepreneurship in Health and Life Sciences at the VU. I am doing a PhD with the LIKE program, which falls under the Amsterdam Healthy Weight Approach. The aim of the project is to develop a sustainable approach aimed at improving health in collaboration with young people, parents and the neighborhood in Amsterdam East. I think it is important that the interventions are developed by the target group itself, because it is then better adapted to their wishes and needs.

Helga Emke, MSc.

PhD candidate

After completing my education in pedagogical sciences and sociology, I started my PhD research into the JOGG approach in early 2020. JOGG is an integrated approach aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle and prevention of overweight in children and young people, which is currently being used in more than 150 municipalities in the Netherlands. The current research examines the ways in which the JOGG approach is shaped within various municipalities and whether the JOGG approach is effective in making the living environment of children and young people healthier and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Irma Huiberts, MSc.

PhD candidate

In 2015, I graduated as doctor in Nijmegen. After my education I have gained experience in different places within health care for children and adolescents. In March 2022, I finished my education as Youth Health Care Doctor. Since then, I have been specializing as Doctor in Society & Health and I started working within CAPRI. I am currently working on a project in which we study the association between the Apgar score at birth and the long-term development of children.

Jacinta Büttner, MD 

Researcher

In 2021, I completed my research master's in Global Health at the Vrije Universiteit. During this master’s I discovered my interest in research in which you work with the target group instead of deciding for them. In my opinion, this is how you develop more sustainable interventions that are in line with the wishes and needs of the people you develop it for. In recent years, I have focused a lot on patient-centered care. In January 2023, I started as a junior researcher at CAPRI on the project Crying, Comforting, and Sleeping. This involves the implementation of an effective soothing method (the Happiest Baby method) for parents (who are expecting a baby), to give them a helping hand.

Jamie van Someren, MSc.

Junior researcher

I want to help people improve their health in a creative way, together. That is why I completed the master Health Education and Promotion from 2020 to 2021. In this master, I have learned how important it is that people can cocreate projects and improve research that is aimed at their benefit. Health promoting projects should be effective and reach the right groups. In that way, we can contribute to children’s health through evidence-based techniques. I am Mai's personal assistant and a project assistant of the Collaborative Centre for Public Child Health Care (Academische Werkplaats JGZ). Within CAPRI, I support Prof. Mai Chin A Paw and the Academic Workplace.

Jasmijn van Heijst, MSc.

Personal assistant to
Prof. Dr. Mai Chin A Paw

In 2015 I graduated at the Vrije University as a sports scientist. Since I am very interested in monitoring the physical development of children, I did research at the Anton de Kom University in Paramaribo after my education. Here I investigated the physical fitness and motor coordination of 9-year-old children in Suriname. After working for 3 years as a research coordinator at the VUmc, I started in November 2019 as a PhD student within the Child and Adolescent Public Health section. Here I work on the project ''My Little Moves'', where we research the optimal 24-hour exercise pattern for growth and development of 0-4 year old children.

Jelle Arts, MSc.

PhD candidate

With an anthropology background, my research interests converge at the intersection of (material) culture, the built environment, and health. If we are to picture the complexity of health inequality as an intricate tapestry, my commitment is to unravel this network of structural, systemic, and sociocultural factors by pulling on one thread at a time. As a PhD Candidate in the YoPA project, my work contributes to innovative, youth-centered co-creation processes, aiming to develop sustainable solutions for pressing societal challenges.

Jesse Vargas, MA.

PhD candidate

As a Marie Curie PhD fellow based at the Amsterdam VUmc, I hold the position of ESR1 as part of the Health Cascade project (ITN). My PhD focus is on Theory-based Principles for Co-creation in Public Health. My academic background is in the Social Sciences discipline; I hold both a Master of Science in Social Policy and Social Research, and a Bachelor of Science in Population and Geography. I am passionate about reducing health inequalities and improving the lives of diverse populations via policy and research development. I have a robust exposure to data analytics, evidence-based research, policy, consultancy and project management.

Katrina Messiha, MSc.

PhD candidate

With an interdisciplinary background in Global health, Social-cultural Anthropology and Occupational therapy, my research interests are directed at solving complex health issues embedded within social-environmental contexts, empowering local communities towards sustainable and equitable health outcomes using innovative research methods. As part of the EU-funded Health CASCADE project, I am applying methods and principles of co-creation to shape activity-friendly urban environments together with youths and stakeholders in SE Amsterdam. Additionally, I will evaluate this process of co-creation with the goal of developing a robust public health co-creation methodology toolkit, informed by scientific evidence and real-world applications.

Kunshan Goh, MSc.

PhD candidate

As an architect and urban planner, my expertise lies in planning and designing urban spaces with a focus on social inclusiveness, place identity, and resiliency. I believe that urban design has a decisive impact on health and well-being. End users play a critical role as facilitators of participative processes, fostering the creation of resilient spaces and communities. As part of the YoPA team, I contribute to youth-centered co-creation planning processes and strategies for environmental interventions, seeking to cause positive change in youth lifestyle, health, and wellbeing.

Leto Demetriadou, MSc.

PhD candidate

I am a Marie Curie PhD fellow from Japan, working on the LABDA project. Throughout the project, I aim to identify behavior profiles across subgroups using advanced data analysis and advise stakeholders to create clearer and more detailed public health recommendations. My background lies in the intersection of Biology, Psychology, and Clinical Medicine. I have been exploring a way to contribute to health not only through scientific publications but also through practical solutions for societies. I am very happy to finally step into this opportunity where I can work on research to promote better health for people.

Mari Sone, MSc.

PhD candidate

In 2021 I finished my youth health physician training and I am now in training to become a public health physician at the Amsterdam UMC. As a youth health doctor I wish to improve the quality of the youth health care services and involving adolescents is a key part of that. Sinds 2022 I am a PhD candidate for the YHC4VMBO project in which we will co-create and evaluate youth health care services together with VMBO-students.

Maya Deconinck, MSc.

PhD candidate

Tijdens en na mij studie ben ik werkzaam geweest als museumdocent bij het Fotografiemuseum in Amsterdam op projecten waarbij fotografie als medium werd gebruikt om het gesprek aan te gaan over en te reflecteren op uiteenlopende maatschappelijke thema’s. Verder ben ik werkzaam geweest als research assistent bij diverse projecten omtrent gezondheidsbevordering. Sinds september 2017 ben ik werkzaam als promovendus binnen het project LIKE. Met dit project trachten wij in co-creatie met kinderen, ouders en de buurt een duurzame aanpak te ontwikkelen gericht op het bevorderen van gezond gedrag in Amsterdam Oost. Naast mijn werk als promovendus ben ik actief als vrijwilliger bij de IMC Weekendschool en Dokters van de Wereld.

Meredith Overman, MSc.

PhD candidate

My name is Mieke Peters and I have been a member of CAPRI since December 2022. I work as a Public Health Pediatrician in Limburg-Noord and I am an external PhD at the Maastricht University and as part of this I will be working as a researcher at Amsterdam UMC. I am working on the Happiest Baby Project led by Margreet Harskamp, where I focus on gender differences in the experience and execution of mother- and fatherhood.

Mieke Peters, MSc.

PhD candidate

I worked some years as a registered nurse in a hospital and physical rehabilitation center. Besides working directly alongside patients, I have always been interested in research and prevention. Thus, I decided to get a master’s degree in International Public Health. In 2023 I started working as a research coordinator for the ABCD-study, where I am responsible for coordinating and carrying out the data collection of the new round of measurements. In this job I get to learn a lot about doing research and collecting data, whilst being able to contribute to knowledge and developments in the field of child and adult health.

Nikki Jongeneel, MSc.

Research coordinator - ABCD Studie

After obtaining my bachelor's degree in Nutrition & Dietetics, I immediately started the master's in Health Science. Not surprisingly, I chose the Nutrition & Health specialization during this master. I wrote my master's thesis on the data of the ABCD study. During this internship I noticed that I enjoyed working with numbers (the analyses) the most. When there was a data manager vacancy immediately after my internship in 2014 at the ABCD study, I immediately responded and I still work there! In addition to the data management tasks, I also coordinate the research phases of the ABCD study, including physical measurements and questionnaire research.

Noekie van Lieshout, MSc.

Data Manager - ABCD Study

After completing my bachelor's degree in health and life sciences and my master's degree in Health Sciences at VU University Amsterdam, I started working as a data steward at Amsterdam UMC. I work for the ABCD study and for another study at Amsterdam UMC, the HELIUS study. As data steward, I arrange all kinds of different things around studies related to data management and am a linking factor between the cohort studies and other departments of the hospital.

Quint Olislagers, MSc.

Data Steward - ABCD Study

After completing a bachelor in Liberal Arts and Sciences at the Amsterdam University College, In 2021 I graduated from the Masters Health Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. During my academic years I developed a special interest in data and statistical analysis. When I saw the opportunity to become a data management assistant for the ABCD study, I applied for the position. It matched my interests and prospective career development. As data management assistant I assist with the execution of phase 6 of the study, and any other tasks related to data management.

Sara Dieduksman, MSc.

Data Manager - ABCD Study

Marie Curie PhD Fellow in the project ‘Impact of evidence-based co-creation of the urban environment together with youth’.

The aim of my work is to apply evidence-based methodology to co-create activity-friendly environments together with youth, urban planners, and other relevant stakeholders in the community and to subsequently evaluate the impact of the co-created built environment together with youth. My background lies architecture and spatial planning with a focus on inclusive planning spanning over facets, such as socio-economic equity, ableism, health and age-based prejudice regarding mobility and urban space.

Sara Rachdan, MSc.

PhD candidate

In 2022, I completed my Medicine Master degree in the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Sichuan University. During my master period, I chose the Reproductive Endocrinology specialization. I did both fundamental medical research and clinical trials about polycystic ovary syndrome in young women and diseases’ association with intrauterine environments. My PhD research is based on the ABCD cohort study, in which I aim to explore the association of puberty onset with early life factors and potential subsequent influence on adolescents. I think it is meaningful to find some maternal factors that may affect offspring’s development and to promote a healthier lifestyle during peri-pregnancy.

Siyu Zhou, MSc.

PhD candidate

As a Marie Curie PhD fellow in the LABDA project, I focus on temporal data analysis of 24/7 human movement behavior and its value for health. My research interests lie in developing statistical methods applied to accelerometer data, aiming to gain a deeper understanding of human movement behavior profiles and investigate their potential associations with various health risks. With an interdisciplinary background in statistics, biomedical engineering, and data science, I am passionate about collaborating within the LABDA network to explore the development of evidence-based public health recommendations grounded in advanced analysis methods, ultimately contributing to better health for all.

Xin Zheng, MSc.

PhD candidate