Frank van Bel

Frank van Bel

Prof. Frank van Bel

  • stroke
  • translational research
  • from research to care
+31 88 7554545


Frank van Bel is a full professor and director of the Department of Neonatology of the Medical University Center Utrecht in Utrecht , The Netherlands, since 1997. He did his thesis defense in 1987: Cerebral Doppler studies in perinatology. Before  his current position, he worked as a neonatologist at the Leiden university Medical Center, did experimental Research in the Hemodynamic Lab of Prof  J. Baan (newborn lambs) and was a visiting scientist at the University of southern California (1987) and at the University of California at San Francisco (1991-1992) were he was involved in brain research of the preterm lamb fetus in the lab of Prof. A Rudolph. His current research concerns mechamisms of perinatal brain damage and, related to this issue, neuroprotective strategies involving pharmacological neuroprotection as well as neuronal regeneration of manipulated stem cells. He is, among other research projects, PI of 3 funded projects on “Regeneration of brain damage using autologous stem cell transplantation” (p9 mice); Pharmacologic neuroprotection after hypoxia-ischemia investigated in the rat (p7) and mice (p9) pup” and ”Long term effects of neonatal corticoid treatment”(clinical follow-up of 15-20 y old ex-premies) respectively. Moreover, he is involved as a national coördinator and senior scientific advisor in a recently awarded EU Horizon 2020 grant concerning early neuroprotection after perinatal asphyxia with Allopurinol.  Until April 2015 he was chairman of the Department of Neonatology (later Perinatal Center UMCU), member of the Management Team of the Division of Mother & Baby (up to 2013), including the Departments of Obstetrics, Neonatology, In Vitro Fertilisation and Gynaecology, and the PsychoNeuroImmunology Laboratory and had various teaching tasks. From April 2015 onward he is retired but is continuing his research activities (nul aanstelling UMCU).

He further was chief-editor of the “Dutch Ultrasonoor Bulletin”, of the “European Journal of Ultrasound” and of the “Dutch Journal of Paediatrics”. Currently he is a member of the Editorial Boards of “Neonatology”, “Current Paediatric Reviews” and “Anales de Pediatria” (Spanish).  He is reviewing many manuscripts of various international peer-reviewed journals. Professor van Bel is member of the European and American Societies of Paediatric Research and European Neonatal Brain Club and has various professional connections with other European and American research groups in the perinatal field (Gothenburg; Copenhagen, Zürich, Leuven (Belgium), Sienna (Italy), Los Angeles (USC) and the University of Stanford. He has been frequently invited for presentations in the field of perinatal neonatal neurology all over the world.

Research line and group

Research line
Perinatal Neurology: Neuroprotection and brain repair with Cell therapy
Number of PhD students
Number of postdocs

Personal fellowships and awards

  • Ter Meulenfonds : university of California at SF June 1991-june 1992
  • University of Southern California LA September –December 1987
  • “Joop de Bruijne” Prijs (Ned. Ver. Kindergeneeskunde, Sectie Neonatologie)

Most recent key publications

  • Fan X, van Bel F, van der Kooij MA, Heijnen CJ, Groenendaal F. Hypothermia and erythropoietin for neuroprotection after neonatal brain damage. Pediatr Res. 2013 Jan;73:18-23
  • van Velthoven CT, van de Looij Y, Kavelaars A, Zijlstra J, van Bel F, Huppi PS, Sizonenko S, Heijnen CJ. Mesenchymal stem cells restore cortical rewiring after neonatal ischemia in mice. Ann Neurol. 2012 Jun;71:785-96.
  • Bonestroo HJ, Lemmers PM, Baerts W, van Bel F. Effect of antihypotensive treatment on cerebral oxygenation of preterm infants without PDA. Pediatrics. 2011;128:e1502-10
  • Fan X, Kavelaars A, Heijnen CJ, Groenendaal F, van Bel F. Pharmacological neuroprotection after perinatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2010;8:324-34
  • Yoshida S, Rudan I, Lawn JE, Wall S, Souza JP, Martines J, Bahl R: neonatal health research priority setting group. Newborn health research priorities beyond 2015. Lancet 2014;318:e27-29