Kruitwagen, Hedwig

Hedwig Kruitwagen is a PhD candidate and veterinarian with special expertise in companion animal medicine. Her main interest lies in the field of liver disease and regeneration. This interest was raised during her studies, when she did a two year research project on developing a new therapeutic strategy for canine congenital portosystemic shunts. After graduating in July 2010 she briefly worked as a clinician in private practice. She then joined the research lab of the Department of Clinical Sciences of Companion Animals as a PhD candidate. Her primary focus is on adult liver stem cells in dog, cat, and man, and more specifically on the role they play in liver disease and regeneration. Currently she is finishing her PhD and continues performing research on the applications of cultured adult stem cells of dogs and cats as liver organoids. Organoids are defined as ‘structures resembling an organ’ and are a 3D adult stem cell culture system developed in the lab of Hans Clevers (Hubrecht Institute). First established from mouse and then also from human organs, organoid development was a breakthrough in many research areas, as it allowed for highly proliferative robust primary cultures from patient samples from various organs (e.g. stomach, intestine, pancreas and liver). Organoids have already proved to be a valuable tool for disease modeling research (e.g. in human cystic fibrosis) and are also considered for transplantation purposes. In the research lab of the Department of Clinical Sciences of Companion Animals, Hedwig was involved in establishing organoid cultures from dog and cat liver (Nantasanti et al. 2015; Kruitwagen et al. 2017) and dog intestine (Conceicao Meneses et al., manuscript in preparation). At the moment, her main project is a transplantation study of autologous canine liver organoids in dogs with genetic copper storage disease. A second project is the culture of feline liver organoids and their application as preclinical disease model for hepatic lipidosis. Furthermore she is involved in a study that develops canine intestinal organoids to model viral enteritis. An important focus in all research projects is translational medicine, both from bench to bedside as well as between veterinary and human medicine.