Dr. ir. E. van der Pol

Main activities
Detection of exosomes, microparticles and other extracellular vesicles as biomarkers for disease
Focus of research

Background. Clinical decisions for diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy are often based on information from biochemical and cellular analysis of blood and urine. It is becoming increasingly clear that these body fluids also contain numerous small (<0.001 mm) extracellular vesicles, often referred to as exosomes or microvesicles. Vesicles originate from a variety of cells and functions of vesicles include intercellular communication, coagulation, and inflammation. The vesicle profile (size, concentration, biochemical composition, and cellular origin) and function are altered in e.g. cancer and cardiovascular disease. Accordingly, the ability to measure this vesicle profile strongly adds to understanding the development of major diseases and provides a way for early detection of these diseases.

Problem. Although the clinical relevance of vesicles is increasingly recognized, the detection of exosomes, microparticles, and other extracellular vesicles is still cumbersome. Due to their small size and low refractive index vesicles are below the detection range of modern techniques. Consequently, worldwide no device is available that can determine the vesicle profile directly in body fluids to obtain clinical information.

Goal. The goal of my research is to develop a device that is suitable for clinical use and capable of accurately measuring the size, morphology (shape and ultrastructure), biochemical composition (proteins, lipids, RNA, DNA), and cellular origin of single vesicles at a rate of thousands per second.

For more information and a complete list of peer-reviewed articles to which I contributed, please visit

Key publications
  • van der Pol E, Böing AN, Harrison P, Sturk A, Nieuwland R, Classification, Functions, and Clinical Relevance of Extracellular Vesicles. PHARMACOL REV 2012;64 (3):676-705 [PubMed]
  • van der Pol E, Hoekstra AG, Sturk A, Otto C, van Leeuwen TG, Nieuwland R, Optical and non-optical methods for detection and characterization of microparticles and exosomes. J THROMB HAEMOST 2010;8 (12):2596-2607 [PubMed]
  • van der Pol E, van Gemert MJC, Sturk A, Nieuwland R, van Leeuwen TG, Single vs. swarm detection of microparticles and exosomes by flow cytometry. J THROMB HAEMOST 2012;10 (5):919-930 [PubMed]
  • van der Pol E, Coumans FAW, Sturk A, Nieuwland R, van Leeuwen TG, Refractive Index Determination of Nanoparticles in Suspension Using Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis. NANO LETT 2014;14 (11):6195-6201 [PubMed]
All Publications
Research programmes

Prof. dr. A.G.J.M. van Leeuwen MSc PhD (Biomedical photonics for functional and molecular imaging)

Other research related activities
  • Board of directors / Trustees / Supervisory board, Exometry B.V.
Current research funding
  • NWO (Vrijgesteld)