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Ronald Ouwerkerk, Ph.D.

Ronald Ouwerkerk.
Scientific Focus Areas: Biomedical Engineering and Biophysics, Chemical Biology

Professional Experience

  • Ph.D., Hematology Department, School of Medicine, State University Utrecht, the Netherlands, 1989
  • M.S., Department of Chemistry, State University Utrecht, the Netherlands, 1986
  • B.S., Department of Chemistry, State University Utrecht, the Netherlands, 1984

Research Goal

We hope to learn how metabolic and physiological changes are caused by obesity.

Current Research

I use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to study how metabolic changes in humans may lead to a set of increased risk factors. These risk factors are referred to collectively as metabolic syndrome, and they can lead to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. We measure visceral fat and the fat content of the heart, liver, and various muscle types and correlate these measurements with metabolic and physiological markers, including body mass index, cardiac function, insulin resistance, and blood lipid profiles. By scanning a large and diverse number of subjects, we hope to separate differences in fat metabolism related to race, ethnicity, age, and gender from the underlying common sequence of events that lead to cardiovascular problems or metabolic abnormalities. We augment this effort by also studying metabolites in the liver and muscle of subjects with known abnormalities associated with fat metabolism such as lipodystrophy, or the inability to generate fatty tissue.

Applying our Research

The knowledge gained from our research may tell us about possible early warning signs that may help us save patients before obesity causes irreparable damage.

Need for Further Study

The metabolic switches in the pancreas govern the way dietary fat and sugar intake is handled and how energy reserves are stored in body fat or the liver. Noninvasive study of the metabolic changes in the liver and pancreas in response to acute or long-term changes in dietary intake may help us understand how this works and how this mechanism is changed with obesity.

Select Publications

Native-resolution myocardial principal Eulerian strain mapping using convolutional neural networks and Tagged Magnetic Resonance Imaging.
Yassine IA, Ghanem AM, Metwalli NS, Hamimi A, Ouwerkerk R, Matta JR, Solomon MA, Elinoff JM, Gharib AM, Abd-Elmoniem KZ.
Comput Biol Med (2022 Feb) 141:105041. Abstract/Full Text
Direct pixel to pixel principal strain mapping from tagging MRI using end to end deep convolutional neural network (DeepStrain).
Abd-Elmoniem KZ, Yassine IA, Metwalli NS, Hamimi A, Ouwerkerk R, Matta JR, Wessel M, Solomon MA, Elinoff JM, Ghanem AM, Gharib AM.
Sci Rep (2021 Nov 26) 11:23021. Abstract/Full Text
View More Publications

Research in Plain Language

I use MRI to measure how fat is burned or stored in the hearts, livers, muscles, and belly fat of lean humans and humans who are overweight to learn how obesity may lead to disease. Humans with obesity can develop a number of health problems, including high blood pressure and diabetes, that can ultimately lead to heart disease. We need to find out how these changes occur and what possible early warning signs we should focus on to save people before obesity causes irreparable damage. There are many factors, such as race gender and age, that make it hard to find a common mechanism. For that reason, we study a large and diverse group of lean subjects and subjects with obesity as well as some subjects with known metabolic diseases or habits that affect fat metabolism.

Last Reviewed June 2023