Henne Holstege is Assistant Professor at the Department of Clinical Genetics of the VU University Medical Center. She has majored in Biochemistry at the University of Leiden. During her PhD at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam she compared the genetic changes characteristic for mouse and human breast tumors. Then, inspired by the extraordinary case of Mrs. van Andel-Schipper, who reached the age of 115 without any signs of cognitive decline, her research interest changed to the genetics and derivative molecular profiles that explain extreme aging without cognitive decline.
In 2013 she set up the 100-plus Study cohort of cognitively healthy centenarians (CHCs) at the VUmc Alzheimer center Amsterdam. The study aims to include at least 500 CHCs, and currently the cohort includes family and medical history, neuropsychological data, blood samples and DNA samples from almost 400 CHCs. Thus far 110 CHCs agreed to post-mortem brain donation. Longevity analysis of CHC-siblings suggests the presence of a strong heritable component to extreme aging with maintained cognitive health. It is Henne’s view that the associated genetic elements and derivative molecular processes can be only identified when centenarians are profiled in context of aging and disease, and on all levels of cellular regulation. To reach her goal, Henne has brought together different expertise by setting up close collaborations with many researchers inside and outside the Netherlands. Henne and her group have a close collaboration with the TU Delft for the analysis of the complex data collected in the 100-plus Study and the comparisons with patients with neurodegenerative diseases (mainly Alzheimer Disease Patients). To substantiate this collaboration, the bioinformaticians in her group visit the Delft Laboratory of Bioinformatics once per week, such that they discuss findings, and analysis strategies.