Professor Dick Thijssen

Professor of Cardiovascular Physiology and Exercise

Professor Thijssen’s research is focused on exploring the relationship between physical (in)activity and the development of chronic diseases (e.g. cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity). More specifically, he strongly focus on examining changes in cardiovascular function and structure, which relate to the development of (co)morbidities. Using this knowledge, he aim to understand and optimise the effects of exercise training to prevent morbidity and mortality in various (pathology) groups by examining novel interventions, such as high-intensity exercise, and combining exercise with (local and systemic) heat exposure, ischemic preconditioning, or pharmacological treatment. Dick has profound expertise on the state-of-the-art invasive and non-invasive measurement of vascular function and structure in humans. Moreover, Prof. Thijssen is currently leading an international working group on reference values for flow-mediated dilation.

Dick completed his undergraduate studies at University of Applied Sciences (BSc in Physiotherapy) and Radboud University (Biomedical Sciences). He gained his PhD (Endothelin and Exercise training) from the Radboud University Nijmegen (the Netherlands). Subsequently, he worked as a post-doctoral researcher at Liverpool John Moores University and Radboud University Nijmegen. In 2013, Dick returned to Liverpool John Moores University and he now is the group leader of the Cardiovascular Research group.

Areas of research focus + technical expertise
  • Impact of acute and chronic effect of exercise or physical inactivity on the vasculature
  • Exercise training and physical activity interventions to improve cardiovascular health
  • Impact of a spinal cord injury on cardiovascular health and role of exercise training
  • Technical expertise: measurement of vascular function and structure
  • 2012: Honourable Mention at the European Athletics Innovation Award 2012 (awarded for the identification of ischemic preconditioning as a tool to improve exercise performance)
  • 2012: New Investigator Award from the American College of Sports Medicine
  • 2011: Poster Presentation Award at the CardioVascularConference (Noordwijkerhout, the Netherlands)
  • 2010: UK Sports Ideas4Innovation-award to study the impact of ischaemic preconditioning on physical performance in elite athletes
  • 2010: Dr. E. Dekker-stipend to study the impact of moderate- and high-intensity exercise training on the role of endothelin-1 and nitric oxide in heart failure
  • 2009: Oded Bar-Or Award for International Scholars from the American College of Sports Medicine
  • 2008: Young Physiologists Prize for oral presentation at the European College of Sports Science (Estoril, Portugal)
  • 2004: Young Physiologists Prize for the best oral presentation at the annual Young Physiologists Day
  • 2003: Annual faculty prize (Biomedical Health Sciences, Radboud University Nijmegen) for the best MSc-thesis.
Current research projects
  • Role of shear rate in mediating vascular adaptation in function and structure (collaboration with Prof. Green)
  • Validation of the carotid artery vasoreactivity test (collaboration with Dr. Oxborough)
  • Role of acute changes in vascular function for chronic vascular adaptations (collaboration with Dr. Dawson)
  • Impact of ischemic preconditioning on the vasculature and performance (collaboration with Prof. Cable, Dr. Jones)
  • Predictive capacity of exercise-induced changes in troponin (collaboration with Prof. George)
  • Impact of spinal cord injury on cardiovascular function (collaboration with Drs. Low and Jones)
  • Effects of physical activity patterns on cardio- and cerebrovascular function (collaboration with Dr. Hopkins)
  • Validation and assessment of novel techniques for cardiac function (collaboration with Dr. Oxborough)
Recent research grants
  • BBSRC (2014), Break down sedentarism to build up brain (in collaboration with Dr. Hopkins)

    Page last modified 27 February 2014.

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