Ron Heeren

Translational Molecular imaging in action: Chemistry across boundaries


A comprehensive understanding of molecular patterns of health and disease can pave the way for personalized medicine and tissue regeneration. New, innovative technology developments in mass spectrometry based chemical microscopes have now firmly established themselves in translational research. They target biomedical tissue analysis in various diseases as well as other chemically complex surfaces. In concert they elucidate the way in which local environments can influence molecular signalling pathways on various scales, from molecule to man. New developments require a strong interdisciplinary approach where chemists, physicists, biologists and clinicians come together to tackle the complexity of life. The best way to capture disease complexity is to chart and connect multilevel molecular information within a tissue using mass spectrometry based molecular microscopy. This enables translation of high-end molecular imaging technologies to the clinical practice in diagnostics, pathology and surgery.



Prof. Dr. Ron M.A. Heeren obtained a PhD degree in technical physics in 1992 at the University of Amsterdam on plasma-surface interactions. He was the research group leader at FOM-AMOLF for macromolecular ion physics and biomolecular imaging mass spectrometry. In 2001 he was appointed professor at the chemistry faculty of Utrecht University lecturing on the physical aspects of biomolecular mass spectrometry. In the period 1995-2015 he has been developing new approaches towards high spatial resolution and high throughput molecular imaging mass spectrometry using Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry and Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption and Ionization. He was the research director for emerging technologies within the Netherlands Proteomics Centre from 2008-2013. In 2012 he co-founded Omics2Image B.V., a company focused on bringing innovative ion detector technology to the analytical market. In 2014 he was appointed as distinguished professor and Limburg Chair at the University of Maastricht.

He is one of the scientific directors of M4I, the Maastricht MultiModal Molecular Imaging institute and heads the division of imaging MS. He is the elected treasurer and executive board member of the international mass spectrometry foundation and serves on various editorial boards of peer-reviewed journals. He is and has been active in many professional societies to advance mass spectrometric research, education and professionalization. His publication record encompasses an excess of 200 peer-reviewed publications and his H-index is 38. His academic research interests are the fundamental studies of the energetics of macromolecular systems, conformational studies of non-covalently bound protein complexes, translational imaging research, high-throughput bioinformatics and the development and validation of new mass spectrometry based proteomic imaging techniques for the life sciences.


University of Maastricht

Professor Molecular Imaging

Scientific director of the Maastricht MultiModal Molecular Imaging institute (M4I)

Head of  the division of Iamging MS