Curriculum Vitae Ger Strous

Biographical sketch

Ger Strous (1944) graduated from the University of Nijmegen in 1969 with a M.S. in chemistry, biochemistry and physical chemistry.  In 1973, he successfully defended his PhD thesis in biochemistry at the University of Nijmegen entitled “Biosynthesis and N-acetylation of eye lens alpha-crystallin” (promotor Professor Hans Bloemendal). In 1974 he joined the laboratory of Prof Mebius Kramer at the Laboratory of Histology and Cell Biology of the Medical Faculty of the Utrecht University to work as a postdoctoral fellow on the synthesis and intracellular transport of gastric mucins. In 1978 his position was tenured and he joined the staff of the medical faculty of the Utrecht University.

In 1979 and 1980 he was visiting scientist at the Biology Department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Together with Professor Harvey Lodish he studied the molecular principles of ER to Golgi transport of secretory and membrane proteins in vesicular stomatitis virus-infected liver cells. They were the first to show that newly synthesized proteins travel from the ER to the Golgi complex in a protein-specific, time-consuming process. A few years later, the importance of the ER for protein folding and quality control became apparent and was defined as ER protein quality control.

In the early eighties, his studies resulted in the cloning of part of rat gastric mucin, a ~5’000 amino acid polypeptide, which contains many repeated sequences and is heavily O-glycosylated in the Golgi complex. As an extension of these studies, insight was obtained in the functioning of two important enzymes of the biosynthetic pathway: glucosidase II (ER) and beta-1,4-galactosyltransferase (trans-Golgi). In collaboration with Alan Schwartz (Harvard Medical School and St. Louis Children’s Hospital), Hans Geuze and Jan Willem Slot (Utrecht University), endocytosis and endosomal transport of both the asialoglycoprotein and the mannose-6-phosphate receptors were studied. This resulted in the discovery of novel membrane transport principles and the definition of sub-compartments of the endosomal system (the compartment of uncoupling receptors and ligands, CURL).

Ger Strous was appointed full professor in 1991 and inspired by Alan Schwartz and Aaron Ciechanover (Technion, Haifa), initiated the study on the role of ubiquitination in Growth Hormone Receptor (GHR) function. Since then important discoveries were made, ubiquitination was recognized as an important controlling system is many biological processes, Aaron Ciechanover become Nobel laureate in 2004, and the GHR studies served as a model system for the study of ubiquitin-dependent control of membrane receptors in mammalian cells.

Ger Strous’ teaching at the University of Utrecht reflects his multiple areas of expertise. He has taught courses for dental students in the oral anatomy and histology of dental development, for medical and biomedical students in regulatory mechanisms of the ubiquitin system, in healthy and diseased cells, in the regulation of metabolism and other topics of the cell biology field. For many years, he coordinated and supervised the scientific projects of medical students and was coordinator of the final level of the medical master education according to the CanMEDS system that sets clear and high standards for essential competencies for medical professionals.

Valorisation of the scientific research has also been an important aspect of Ger Strous’s professional career. Together with DDF BV and Recharge BV in Bussum, The Netherlands, insight in molecular principles from the GHR research were translated into the development of drugs to cure cachexia by inhibiting GHR degradation in seriously diseased people that cause rapid weight loss. In addition, to fight acromegay, cancer and diabetes and to extend health span in humans drugs, are being developed that increase the degradation of GHR. These studies were supported by Senter/Novem, STW, and 3 EU network programs. These have resulted in several patents.

Professional career

1970-1973. PhD studies at the Department of Biochemistry, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands
1974-1978. Postdoctoral Fellow, Laboratory of Histology and Cell Biology, School of Medicine, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
1978 - 1985. Faculty member at the Medical Faculty, University of Utrecht, Laboratory of Cell Biology, The Netherlands.
1985 - 1991. Associate Professor at the Medical Faculty, University of Utrecht, Laboratory of Cell Biology, The Netherlands.
1991 - 2011. Full Professor of Cell Biology at the Medical Faculty, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.
1998 - 2007. Head of Department of Cell Biology, University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands.
2011 - current. Emeritus Professor of Cell Biology at the Medical Faculty, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Awards and honors

1979 - 1980. Visiting Scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA
1980 - 1986. Visiting Scientist, Harvard Medical School Children's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
1986. Visiting Scientist, School of Medicine, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA
1994 - 1995. Fullbright professor at Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA

Professional Activities

1980 - current. Member of the Dutch Society for Cell Biology and  the Dutch Society for Biochemistry
1984 - current. Member of the American Society for Cell Biology
1997 - current. Member of the American Society Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
1993 - 2000. Member of the board of the Dutch Society of Cell Biology
1995 - current. Member of the editorial board of the European Journal of Cell Biology and The Biochemical Journal
1996 - 2001. Coordinator of a FP4 Marie Curie Training Network: The central role of the ubiquitin proteasome system in regulatory processes involved in immunological, inflammatory, endocrinological and malignant disorders (involving 6 European Institutes)
2000 - 2006. Panel member of several FP5, FP6 calls (NEST, Marie Curie).
2004 - current. Scientific advisory board Recharge BV, (2006) Borean Pharma A/S Aarhus.
2005 - current. NWO-ALW, selection committee for the Rubicon postdoctoral fellowships.
2005 - 2010. Co-Coordinator and Executive Board Member of European Network of Excellence Rubicon (involving 22 European Institutes)
2006 - 2010. Coordinator of Research Training Network “UbiRegulators” (involving 12 European Institutes)
1996 - 2009. ABC committee “Vernieuwingsimpuls” to optimize UU performance in Vidi-Vici program
2007 – current. Panel member of FP7 calls (ERC, Marie Curie)

Education-related Activities

1984 - 2004. Medical Biology courses, Molecular Biology of the Cell
1992 - 2005. Organizer and instructor Predoctoral practical course Biomembranes, Medical Biology
1994 - 1995. Fullbright professor at Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA
2003 - 2010. Board of studies Masters Biomolecular Sciences.
2003 - 2011. Coordinator and Examiner of Medical Master program

Financial support (since 1994)

1994. KWF (with Dr. J. Schornagel-NKI, Dr. G. Jansen-VU)
1994. NWO MW
1994. NWO-INV
1996. FP4 Marie Curie Research and Training Network: The central role of the ubiquitin proteasome system in regulatory processes involved in immunological, inflammatory, endocrinological and malignant disorders (coordinator: G. Strous)
1997. NWO-INV (with P. van der Sluijs)
1997. ZonMW TOP
2001. NWO/stigon
2004. Netherlands Proteomics Centre (with A. Heck)
2005. Innovation project (SenterNovem) with Recharch/DDF BV
2005. ALW open program
2006. FP6 Network of Excellence: Rubicon (coordinator: M. Masucci)
2007. FP6 Marie Curie Research and Training Network, UbiRegulators
2011. STW grant (with J. Klumperman)

Research interests

Growth hormone receptor function
Protein trafficking
Ubiquitination
Life and health span

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