Rutger-Jan Swijnenburg

(Principal Investigator), MD PhD


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Personal profile

Research interests

As a Hepato-Pancreatico-Biliary (HPB) Surgeon, my research focusses on multimodality molecular imaging to allow integration of diagnostic and intraoperative imaging in patients suffering from tumors in the liver, pancreas and biliary tract. 

After obtaining my medical degree in 2006, I spent three years at Stanford University studying molecular imaging of embryonic stem cell transplantation, for which I  received a PhD degree at the Leiden University (Prof. dr. J.F. Hamming, Prof. Dr. R.C. Robbins and Dr. J.C. Wu). This research was supported by grants from the European Society for Organ Transplantation and the Fulbright Foundation. Upon returning to The Netherlands, I started Surgery Residency at the Leiden University Medical Center and the Bronovo Hospital in The Hague. I became interested in surgical oncology, specifically hepatobiliary and pancreatic cancers and got the opportunity to join the Image-Guided Surgery research group (Prof. Dr. C. van de Velde, Dr. A.L. Vahrmeijer) at the LUMC. In 2011, I worked full time for a year as a post-doc. During that time, my first paper as a senior author was published. In 2010, I co-founded the Lisa Waller Hayes Foundation ( This foundation is dedicated to advance scientific research in the field of pancreatic cancer and to provide a platform of information to patients and their families. After finishing training as a surgical oncologist in July 2015, I did a 2-year fellowship in HPB surgery at the LUMC. During that time, I instigated renewed collaboration with Stanford University’s Multimodality Molecular Imaging Lab (Prof. Dr. S.S. Gambhir) and gathered funding from several sources to allow PhD and graduate students to spent 1-2 years at Stanford. Joint projects primarily focus on the development and clinical translation of molecularly-targeted, tumor-specific imaging agents. In August of 2018, I was appointed staff member in HPB surgery at Amsterdam UMC. In that same year, I was awarded a Young Investigator Grant by the KWF, which has allowed me to form my own research group. My first PhD candidate graduated in November of 2018. Currently, I am the supervisor (co-promotor) of 4 PhD candidates and several graduate students at Amsterdam UMC and the LUMC. Recently, I was awarded a grant by the Cancer Center Amsterdam.

Being appointed as a surgeon in both the AMC and VUmc locations, I play an active role in the alliance, specifically for the HPB department. By merging researchers and clinicians from the different biomedical imaging groups (CCA, Imaging Center), as well as the Amsterdam Skills Center (ASC), I see a great future ahead for translational molecularly targeted imaging research and implementation at Amsterdam UMC.


Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Surgery

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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