Team

Click on a picture to read someone’s biography.

Viridiana Kocaba, MD, PhD, MScE, FEBO

Director of Innovation - Medical Specialist TOM 69/23146 - Senior Clinical Scientist

Silke Oellerich, PhD

Head of NIIOS R&D

Gerrit Melles, MD, PhD

Corneal Surgeon BIG 49032942501 - Founder of NIIOS

Korine van Dijk, BOptom, PhD

Head of Clinic - Research Scientist - Optometrist

Jacqueline van der Wees, PhD

Head of Eye Banks & Tissue Services

Lisanne Ham, PhD

Operational Manager Clinic - Research Scientist - OR assistant

Esther Groeneveld – van Beek, MSc

Tissue Specialist - Research Scientist

Alina Miron, MSc, PDEng

Research Scientist - PhD Student

Maloeke de Jong

Tissue Specialist - Research Technician

Indre Vasiliauskaite, MSc

Research Scientist - PhD Student - Senior Technical Assistant

Jacky de Leeuw

Research Technician

Lydia van der Star, BOptom

Optometrist - OR assistant - Research Scientist

Vincent Bourgonje, PhD

Research Scientist - Senior Technical Assistant

Keamela Vasanthananthan, MD

Corneal Surgeon BIG 29918137801

Achraf Laouani, FEBO

Medical Specialist RIZIV 19578954370 - Corneal Fellow

Jessica Lie, PhD

Tissue Specialist - Research Scientist

Anita Sajet, BASc

Tissue Specialist - Research Scientist

Charlotte Lanser

Junior Technical Assistant

Hans Frank, PhD

External Advisor

NIIOS R&D

Viridiana Kocaba, MD, PhD, MScE, FEBO

Director of Innovation - Medical Specialist TOM 69/23146 - Senior Clinical Scientist

ENG: Viridiana Kocaba is a Senior Clinician Scientist specialized in corneal and external diseases. She graduated from Paris V René Descartes Medical School in 2006 and completed subspecialty training in cornea, external diseases and refractive surgery. She performed her PhD work in the group of Prof. Ula Jurkunas at the Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA to develop a treatment paradigm using tissue engineering for corneal reconstruction. She defended her PhD summa cum laude in 2018 (international collaboration between Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA and Claude Bernard Lyon 1-University, Lyon, France).
Her work is divided between clinical work and research. Her clinical work focuses on corneal transplantation both basic and advanced forms, especially DMEK surgery. She is also specialized in the treatment of complications after refractive surgery. Her research interests cover all aspects of corneal disease, with a main focus on endothelial diseases including laboratory-based research investigating new corneal endothelial cell-based therapies. Her research also involves the development of novel transplant techniques, new instruments for corneal transplantation, and the development of novel drug delivery devices.

NL: Dr. Kocaba studeerde af in 2006 aan de Paris V-René Descartes Medical School. Zij voltooide haar oogheelkundige specialisatie aan de Claude Bernard Lyon1-University, Lyon, Frankrijk. Daarna deed ze een subspecialisatie in hoornvlies, voorste oogsegment en refractiechirurgie. Ze verbleef vervolgens twee jaar aan het Cornea Center of Excellence, Harvard Medical School in Boston, VS. Haar doctoraat in weefselengineering voor hoornvliesreconstructie verdedigde ze summa cum laude in 2018 (internationale samenwerking tussen Harvard Medical School en Claude Bernard Lyon 1-University). Dr. Kocaba verdeelt haar werk momenteel over klinisch werk en onderzoek. Haar klinische activiteiten richten zich voornamelijk op hoornvliestransplantatie; ze heeft met name veel ervaring in zowel de standaard als meer gecompliceerde DMEK-operaties. Daarnaast is zij gespecialiseerd in Bowman layer onlay-transplantatie en de behandeling van complicaties na refractiechirurgie. Haar huidige onderzoeksactiviteiten (zowel klinisch- als laboratoriumonderzoek) zijn gericht op nieuwe therapieën voor Fuchs endotheeldystrofie.

NIIOS R&D

Silke Oellerich, PhD

Head of NIIOS R&D

Silke Oellerich is the head of the NIIOS R&D Department and is responsible for the coordination and supervision of the institute’s R&D projects.
After her physics studies, she received her PhD in Biophysical Chemistry followed by a Postdoc period at the University of Leiden with a Marie Curie Grant. Her main research focus was on (single‐molecule) spectroscopy and microscopy of pigment-protein complexes and their interaction with membranes.
In 2009, she joined NIIOS and since then her research focuses on the clinical exploitation of isolated endothelial cells and the development of new tissue-efficient corneal transplantation techniques. For clinical research, the focus is on clinical outcomes and the prevention of complications after corneal transplantation. She has a strong background in managing interdisciplinary projects and leading a team of clinicians, medical biologists and biomedical scientists.

NIIOS R&D

Gerrit Melles, MD, PhD

Corneal Surgeon BIG 49032942501 - Founder of NIIOS

ENG: Gerrit Melles is a cornea specialist and founder of the Netherlands Institute for Innovative Ocular Surgery (NIIOS), the Melles Cornea Clinic Rotterdam, and Amnitrans EyeBank Rotterdam. His clinical work focuses on the management of corneal disorders and he is actively involved in research and development of ophthalmic surgical techniques and has invented several advanced lamellar keratoplasty techniques among others Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) and Bowman layer transplantation. Furthermore, he has developed instruments and medical devices required for the invented techniques, pioneered the use of staining solutions such as VisionBlue®, MembraneBlue® for ophthalmic surgeries and developed the Surgicube® for performing ophthalmic surgeries under sterile conditions in any clinical setting.
Dr Melles has received several awards in recognition of his contribution to ophthalmology. Among others, Dr Melles is the 2017 Helen Keller Award Laureate, and received the 2015 Dastgheib Pioneer Award in Ocular Innovation at the Duke University Eye Center, and an American Academy of Ophthalmology Achievement Award in 2009 and 2005.
Dr Melles has authored almost 300 peer-reviewed scientific publications and book chapters.

NL: Dr. Gerrit Melles is corneaspecialist en oprichter van het NIIOS, de Melles Hoornvlieskliniek en Amnitrans EyeBank. Hij studeerde Geneeskunde in Leiden en behaalde zijn specialisatie Oogheelkunde in Nijmegen. Zijn promotieonderzoek verrichtte hij zowel in het Sharp Cabrillo Hospital, San Diego, VS, als aan de Universiteit van Nijmegen. Zijn klinische werkzaamheden focussen op hoornvliesaandoeningen en hij is baanbrekend in onderzoek en ontwikkeling van oogheelkundige chirurgische technieken (zoals DMEK). Hij ontwikkelde medische instrumenten en apparatuur en was pionier in het vereenvoudigen van oogoperaties door middel van kleuroplossingen. Ook is hij de uitvinder van de Surgicube®, een mobiele steriele operatiekamer. Hij heeft meerdere prijzen ontvangen voor zijn bijdragen aan de oogheelkunde. In 2017 kreeg hij nog de Helen Keller Award in de VS, in 2019 de Tilanusmedaille. Dr. Melles heeft meer dan 300 wetenschappelijke publicaties op zijn naam. Zijn missie is om minimaal invasief en met behoud van de natuurlijke anatomie oogheelkundige problemen te lijf te gaan.

NIIOS R&D

Korine van Dijk, BOptom, PhD

Head of Clinic - Research Scientist - Optometrist

ENG: Korine van Dijk is head of Melles Cornea Clinic Rotterdam (MHR) and has an eloborate knowledge of corneal disorders. After her graduation in Optometry in 1995 from the Hogeschool van Utrecht, her clinical work mainly concentrated on the anterior segment of the eye. After joining NIIOS in 2009, next to her clinical activities she conducted multiple research projects focussing on the clinical outcomes and optical performance of the different modern lamellar keratoplasty techniques performed at MHR, such as DMEK and Bowman layer transplantation. In collaberation with Leiden University, she defended her PhD on this subject in 2018. Currently, her work is a combination of managing clinical and executive activities in the clinic and clinical research.

NL: Korine van Dijk is het hoofd van de Melles Hoornvlieskliniek (MHR) en heeft uitgebreide kennis van hoornvliesaandoeningen. Na haar afstuderen in optometrie in 1995 aan de Hogeschool van Utrecht, concentreerde haar klinische werk zich voornamelijk op het voorste deel van het oog. Nadat ze in 2009 bij NIIOS kwam werken, voerde ze naast haar klinische activiteiten meerdere onderzoeksprojecten uit, gericht op de klinische resultaten en optische prestaties van de verschillende moderne lamellaire keratoplastiektechnieken die bij MHR worden uitgevoerd, zoals DMEK en Bowman layer transplantatie. In samenwerking met de Universiteit Leiden verdedigde ze in 2018 haar promotie op dit onderwerp. Momenteel is haar werk een combinatie van het managen van klinische en uitvoerende activiteiten in de kliniek en klinisch onderzoek.

NIIOS R&D

Jacqueline van der Wees, PhD

Head of Eye Banks & Tissue Services

Jacqueline van der Wees is the head and the Responsible Person of Amnitrans EyeBank Rotterdam and Amnitrans EyeBank International. Dr. Van der Wees has a background in medical molecular biology and her current research interest focuses on the optimization of donor tissue utilization and on improving donor tissue quality. From the very start she has been involved in the development and evaluation of DMEK and Bowman layer graft preparation techniques and she has contributed to numerous peer-reviewed scientific publications on (new developments in) cornea transplantation and donor tissue preparation. She is currently a committee member of the European Eye Bank Association (EEBA).

NIIOS R&D

Lisanne Ham, PhD

Operational Manager Clinic - Research Scientist - OR assistant

NIIOS R&D

Esther Groeneveld – van Beek, MSc

Tissue Specialist - Research Scientist

Esther Groeneveld-van Beek joined the NIIOS and Amnitrans EyeBank Rotterdam team in 2008 and has a background in biotechnology and molecular biology. She is specialised in the manual preparation of DMEK, DSEK and Bowman layer grafts. Esther was a key player in developing the no-touch DMEK graft preparation technique and the Bowman layer graft preparation. Her main focus is to develop new techniques to help patients and surgeons and to optimize eye bank processes by making them more efficient.

NIIOS R&D

Alina Miron, MSc, PDEng

Research Scientist - PhD Student

Alina Miron is a Research Scientist and PhD student at NIIOS. Her PhD project focuses on the in vivo and in vitro behaviour of corneal endothelial cells before and after endothelial keratoplasty. She studied Molecular Bioengineering at the Technical University of Dresden and received the PDEng training at the (Bio)Product Engineering Department of Delft University.
Her background covers medical life sciences and technology with a focus on in vitro cellular assays. At NIIOS, she has been involved from the beginning in setting-up the cell culture lab and developed optimized protocols for corneal endothelial cell cultures. Her current research focusses on regenerative strategies for the treatment of Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy by developing and applying in vitro cell migration assays.

NIIOS R&D

Maloeke de Jong

Tissue Specialist - Research Technician

Maloeke de Jong is a tissue specialist at Amnitrans EyeBank Rotterdam, and Research Analyst at NIIOS R&D. Maloeke de Jong has a background in histopathology, with a specialisation in immunohistochemistry. In 2019 she successfully established the NIIOS R&D ocular pathology laboratorium. Her current research interests focus on the histopathological features of post mortem eyes which have undergone various lamellar surgical procedures. Within the eye bank she participates in the production process and quality assurance of the various types of corneal transplants.

NIIOS R&D

Indre Vasiliauskaite, MSc

Research Scientist - PhD Student - Senior Technical Assistant

Indre Vasiliauskaite is a research scientist at NIIOS since 2019. Indre has a background in biomedical sciences and obtained her MSc degree at the Erasmus University Rotterdam in Clinical Research. Her current research focusses on clinical outcomes and graft survival after DMEK. She is especially interested in long-term outcomes after corneal transplantation and how outcomes are affected by specific donor-, surgery-, or patient-related parameters. She also contributes to many other projects at NIIOS thanks to her strong data analysis skills. Currently, Indre is working towards obtaining a PhD degree here at NIIOS in affiliation with the Leiden University Medical Center.

NIIOS R&D

Jacky de Leeuw

Research Technician

NIIOS R&D

Lydia van der Star, BOptom

Optometrist - OR assistant - Research Scientist

ENG: Lydia van der Star joined NIIOS as an optometrist in 2019. She has a background in general optometry, refractive laser, and cataract surgery with keen interest for the cornea and is committed to improve eye care in general. During her studies she was involved in several international eye health care projects. Her current working profile at the NIIOS consist of optometric examinations and assisting during UV-crosslinking, lamellar keratoplasty and Bowman layer transplantations at the Melles Cornea Clinic. Her current research focuses on Bowman layer transplantation for advanced keratoconus and on the management of endothelial corneal disorders.

NL: Lydia van der Star trad in 2019 in dienst bij NIIOS als optometrist. Ze heeft achtergrond in algemene optometrie, refractieve laser en cataractchirurgie met een grote interesse voor hoornvlies en ze zet zich in om de oogzorg in het algemeen te verbeteren. Tijdens haar studie was ze betrokken bij verschillende internationale oogzorgprojecten. Haar huidige werkprofiel bij NIIOS bestaat uit optometrische onderzoeken, assisteren bij UV-crosslinking, lamellaire keratoplastiek en Bowman layer transplantaties in de Melles Cornea Clinic. Haar huidige onderzoek richt zich op Bowman layer transplantatie voor gevorderde keratoconus en op de behandeling van endotheelaandoeningen.

NIIOS R&D

Vincent Bourgonje, PhD

Research Scientist - Senior Technical Assistant

Vincent Bourgonje is an R&D scientist at NIIOS since 2014. He graduated from Utrecht University in the field of Biomedical Sciences with electives in virology and physiology. His PhD research at Medical Physiology (Utrecht University) concerned translational research on cardiac arrhythmias and remodeling. At NIIOS his research focuses on clinical outcomes after corneal transplantation and clinical validation of ophthalmological devices. Besides R&D activities, he also leads the clinical imaging team, is biosafety officer of the cell culture lab, and auditor in the quality team. His interests are broad, which his position at NIIOS reflects perfectly.

NIIOS R&D

Keamela Vasanthananthan, MD

Corneal Surgeon BIG 29918137801

ENG: Dr. Keamela Vasanthananthan received her medical degree at Utrecht University in 2014. She completed her residency in Ophthalmology in September 2020 at the UMC Amsterdam, focusing on the anterior eye segment, cornea, cataract and eyelid surgery. Keamela Vasanthananthan joined the NIIOS and Melles Cornea Clinic Team as a Corneal Fellow in October 2020. She is specializing in the treatment of corneal disorders, and specifically in lamellar cornea transplants and UV crosslinking. In addition to her clinical activities, she conducts scientific research into Fuchs endothelial dystrophy and the clinical outcomes of DMEK.

NL: Dr. Keamela Vasanthananthan voltooide in 2014 de studie geneeskunde aan de Universiteit Utrecht. Hierna rondde zij de opleiding tot oogheelkundig specialist af in september 2020 in het UMC Amsterdam, met als aandachtsgebieden het voorste oogsegment, cornea, cataract en ooglidchirurgie. Zij is per oktober 2020 werkzaam bij het NIIOS en de Melles Hoornvlieskliniek, en verdiept xich in de behandeling van hoornvliesaandoeningen in het algemeen, met specifieke focus op lamellaire hoornvliestransplantaties en UV-crosslinking. Naast haar werk op het gebied van DMEK is zij ook ervaren met nieuwe behandelmethoden voor anterieure hoornvliespathologie (o.a. keratoconus), zoals Bowman layer onlay-transplantatie. Als aanvulling op haar klinische werkzaamheden verricht zij wetenschappelijk onderzoek naar Fuchs endotheeldystrofie en de klinische uitkomsten van DMEK.

NIIOS R&D

Achraf Laouani, FEBO

Medical Specialist RIZIV 19578954370 - Corneal Fellow

ENG: Dr. Achraf Laouani started his fellowship at NIIOS on October 11th, 2021.

NL: Dr. Achraf Laouani startte zijn fellowship bij NIIOS op 11 oktober 2021.

NIIOS R&D

Jessica Lie, PhD

Tissue Specialist - Research Scientist

Jessica Lie joined the NIIOS and Amnitrans EyeBank Rotterdam team in 2005 and has a background in medial biology. Her main specialization is in the surgical preparation of bio-implants for advanced lamellar keratoplasty. She has played a key role in developing novel graft preparation techniques such as harvesting Descemet membrane for DMEK and isolating Bowman layer grafts to treat advanced keratoconus. She regularly trains ophthalmologists from all around the world in those novel graft preparation techniques during NIIOS Wetlab courses. Her research focus is on exploring new strategies to improve donor tissue quality.

NIIOS R&D

Anita Sajet, BASc

Tissue Specialist - Research Scientist

NIIOS R&D

Charlotte Lanser

Junior Technical Assistant

NIIOS R&D

Hans Frank, PhD

External Advisor