Prof. dr. A.G.J.M. van Leeuwen MSc PhD

Main activities
Research, Teaching
Biomedical Physics and Biomedical Photonics
Focus of research

The research of the Biomedical Photonics group of the Biomedical Engineering and Physics department of the AMC (headed by Ton van Leeuwen) focuses on the physics of the interaction of light with tissue, and to use that knowledge for the development, introduction and clinical evaluation of (newly developed) optical imaging and analysis techniques for gathering quantitative functional and molecular information of tissue or tissue sample ("optical biopsy"). The research bridges the gap between lab and clinic (“bench to bedside”).


The research is structured along the following research lines:


  1. Tissue spectroscopy: By studying the interaction of light with tissue for dedicated set-ups and fibers, models and algorihtms are developed in order to determine the concentration of blood and blood derivatives, met-, deoxy- and oxyhemoglobin, as well as the flow in various organs. This information can be used to monitor the function of organs as well as to improve the detection of tumors, child abuse and other pathologies.
  2. Functional imaging: based on the fundamental research of Dirk Faber, the use of the intrinsic contrast of OCT is explored with Martijn de Bruin for the in vivo staging and grading of tumors, together with clinical departments (e.g. Urology, Pulmonology, MDL). Novel OCT signal analysis is explored to determine blood velocity profiles, perfusion and diffusion and relate this information to pathology, together with clinical departments. The integration and combination of different imaging technologies (e.g. OCT and CT, (Raman) spectroscopy and OCT) is explored and clinically evaluated with e.g. departments of Radiation Therapy, Cardiology and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
  3. Microvesicles detection: in cooperation with experimental clinical chemistry, new optical techniques for the detection of microvesicles in blood plasm are developed. In this novel research line, we aim to quantify the size distribution, the concentration (via sophisticated microscopic detection techniques) and cellular origin (via spectroscopic techniques) of these small (30-1000 nm) particles in order to design "liquid biopsytools. We intiated the STW perspectief program CANCER-ID.
  4. Photonic device development: We develop novel photonic devices, based on minimally invasive designs and integrated optics, which are suitable for small and dedicated monitoring and imaging devices in the clinic ("cleanroom to clinic"). 

Our research is embedded in the Center of Research Excellence on Innovative Medical DevicesInstitute Quantivision”, a collaboration between UvA-FNWI, AMC, NKI, VUmc and VU, in which Ton van Leeuwen is the technical scientific leader. Our group is also part of the “LaserLaB” of the VU and the Co van Ledden Hulsebosch Center for Forensic Sciences of the UvA-FNWI, NFI and AMC.


Key publications
  • Ungureanu C, Kroes R, Petersen W, Groothuis TAM, Ungureanu F, Janssen H, van Leeuwen FWB, Kooyman RPH, Manohar S, van Leeuwen TG, Light interactions with gold nanorods and cells: implications for photothermal nanotherapeutics. NANO LETT 2011;11 (5):1887-1894 [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]
  • van Dam A, Schwarz JCV, de Vos J, Siebes M, Sijen T, van Leeuwen TG, Aalders MCG, Lambrechts SAG, Oxidation monitoring by fluorescence spectroscopy reveals the age of fingermarks. ANGEW CHEM INT EDIT 2014;53 (24):6272-6275 [PubMed]
  • Faber D, van der Meer F, Aalders M, van Leeuwen T, Quantitative measurement of attenuation coefficients of weakly scattering media using optical coherence tomography. OPT EXPRESS 2004;12 (19):4353-4365 [PubMed]
All Publications
Curriculum Vitae

Ton van Leeuwen (born in 1963 in Amsterdam) graduated cum laude in Experimental Physics of the University of Amsterdam in 1989. His Master of Science research was performed at the Department of Atomic Physics (Zeeman laboratory, laser spectroscopy). He completed his PhD research in the Experimental Cardiology Laboratory in the Utrecht Medical Centre in 1993 on the use of pulsed lasers for angioplasty of coronary arteries by defending (cum laude) his thesis entitled "Bubble formation during pulsed mid-infrared and excimer laser ablation: Origin and implications for laser angioplasty" (promotors: Prof. dr. C. Borst, Lab. for Experimental Cardiology, University of Utrecht and Prof. dr. ir. M.J.C. van Gemert, AMC Laser Center, University of Amsterdam).
Thereafter he was involved in various research projects at the Interuniversity Cardiology Institute of the Netherlands (ICIN) of the KNAW: He was principal investigator of the Netherlands Heart Foundation (NHS) project "Local inhibition of Cell Proliferation in the Arterial Wall by Psoralen and Local Photodynamic Therapy: a Possible Strategy to Prevent Restenosis" and ad interim project leader of ICIN project 18 "The Arterial Wall".

In 1997 and 1998, supported by a grant from the ICIN, he investigated the potential cardiovascular use of optical coherence tomography (OCT) at Case Western Reverse University and Cleveland University Hospitals in Cleveland, USA.

Ton was appointed as a staff member of the AMC Laser Centre in 1998 at which he continued his research on OCT. He was the principal investigator of various projects: NWO–Platform Alternatives for Animal Experiments ("Perfused Porcine Coronary Arteries as a Testing Laboratory of the Intervention Cardiology"), NHS projects ("Reduction of arterial shrinkage by UVB and PUVB therapy during balloon angioplasty: effect on collagen and elastin organization, formation and degradation" and "Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) Imaging in Cardiology: Application of a Novel, High Resolution, Optical Imaging Technique to Visualize Unstable Plaque and Blood Flow Shear Rate Distribution); NWO Equipment grant ("Optical Coherence Tomography: high resolution non-invasive diagnostic imaging in medicine"); FOM-projects "Optical Coherence Tomography: Novel High Resolution Non-Invasive Diagnostic Imaging In Medicine" and ICIN project 32 ("Intravascular diagnosis of atherosclerosis and restenosis by means of IntraVascular UltraSound, Optical Coherence Tomography and Raman spectroscopy") and EU 5th Call project MEDPHOT ("Optical Methods for Medical Diagnosis and Monitoring of Diseases"); Senter BTS project OCTIC ("Optical Coherence Tomography Imaging in Cardiology")

He was appointed as Professor in the Clinical Application of Biomedical Optics at the University of Twente in 2001 (part time, 0.2). From 2003 - 2008, he headed the Biomedical Optics Group at the Science faculty and the Biomedical Technology Institute at the UT (0.5 appointment). At the UT, he started and headed the spearhead project NIMTIK ("Non-Invasive Molecular Tumor Imaging and Killing") and was co-PI of STW projects ("Fast and depth sensitive laser Doppler imaging of tissue perfusion" and "Towards non-invasive acousto-optic, quantitative monitoring of chemical species in human blood or tissue") and IOP - Photonic Devices projects ("PRESSMIT Plasmonic nanoparticle based molecular imaging and therapy of cancers: in vitro to preclinical studies" and "HYMPACT Hybrid Mammography using Photacoustic Computed Tomography"). He developed three courses: “Medical Technology” for Biomedical Technology and TBK bachelor students, “Non-invasive Diagnostics” for Biomedical Engineering master students, and  “Microscopic Imaging Techniques” for Technical Medicine master students.

He was appointed as Professor in Biomedical Photonics (in 2007) and head of the Biomedical Engineering and Physics department (in 2008) in the Faculty of Medicine at the Academic Medical Centre of the University of Amsterdam (AMC-UvA). He developed the courses "Introduction to Biomedical Physics" and the worshop "Blood" for BSc Physics students. In  2009, he was appointed as full professor in Biomedical Physics (AMC-UvA).  Projects were started, e.g. IOP Photonic Devices ("IR SWEPT: IR swept source for high resolution functional imaging in medicine") and Smartmix MEMPHIS ("Merging Electronics and Micro & nano-PHotonics in Integrated Systems"), IOP Photonic Devices project "low-cost handheld optical coherence tomography device", ZON-MW project "Sense, zoom and specify" (within institute Quantivision), STW project "Sensor for body hydration monitoring" (within the research program Sport). Current project include STW projects "OBAMA: optical bladder anatomy mapping and functional analysis", "PROSPECT: spectroscopic biopsy of the prostate", which both are part of the STW Perspective program iMIT,TTW-HTSM project "integrated OCT for medical imaging at 1300nm" and EUROSTARS project OCTIC. New projects on the development of novel detection methods for microvessel characterisation started recently (within STW perspectief programs MEMPHIS and CANCER-ID).

He initiated the Center of Research Excellence within the Innovative Medical Devices Initiative of the Netherlands Science Organization, resulting in the Institute Quantivison, of which he currently is the technical scientific leader. He was coordinator for the Physics of Life and Health master track within the Amsterdam Master of Physics. He is fellow of the AIMB and the SPIE.


Research programmes

Biomedical photonics for functional and molecular imaging

The research programme is structured along the following research lines:

  • Hyperspectral imaging (Prof dr ing Aalders): based on his VIDI project (Depth-resolved Optical Spectroscopic Imaging (DOSI) in tissue), non invasive measurement of bilirubin (in cooperation with the Neonatology department) and the age of bruises (in order to better detect child abuse) have been demonstrated. Forensic applications of hyperspectral imaging is utilised for the detection and age determination of blood stains (together with e.g. the Netherlands Forensic Institute and Forensic Technological Solutions BV) and on finger print analysis (Dr A van Dam). 
  • Functional imaging (Dr Ir Dirk Faber and dr DM de Bruin), with clinical spin-off towards Urology, Pulmonology, Oncology and Ophthalmology: based on anaysis of the optical signals, differences in the optical properties (absorption and scattering) of the tissue are related to the presencense of superficial tumors. Based on speckle analysis, blood flow is characterised.
  • The integration and combination of different imaging technologies for molecular and functional imaging will be explored e.g to guide biopsys (in cooperation with gastro-enterology and urology), to characteris micro-vesicles (Dr FAW Coumans and dr E van der Pol) in biological fluids (blood, urine, etc, together with experimental biochemistry, Dr R Nieuwland and Prof A Sturk) and to initiate new developments by starting research projects for minimally invasie optical catheters and using integrated optics  for small and dedicated monitoring and imaging devices in the clinic. 


Prof. dr. A.G.J.M. van Leeuwen MSc PhD
Prof. dr. ing. M.C.G. Aalders
Dr. ir. D.J. Faber
Prof. dr. ir. H.J.C.M. Sterenborg (Netherlands Cancer Institute)

Dr. D.M. de Bruin MSc PhD
Dr. ir. F.A.W. Coumans
Dr. A. van Dam
Dr. ir. E. van der Pol (Exometry B.V.)
Dr. A. Riordan

PhD Students
N. Achetib
N. Buntsma
Drs. M.T.J. Bus
J.E. Freund
Ir. E. Gool MSc
Drs. R.J.M. Hoveling
Y. Hu
I. Jansen
Drs. M.P. Jelvehgaran
E.I.M.L. Liem
M. Lucas
Drs. B.G. Muller
Ir. L.M. Peinado Cortes
Drs. A.L. Post
Ir. L. de Rond MSc
Drs. R.M. Ruis
Drs. A. Swaan
L.S. Wilk MSc
X. Zhang
Drs. M. Stehouwer

Ing. P.R. Bloemen
Prof. dr. ir. M.J.C. van Gemert

Other research related activities
  • Membership of editorial board / Editorship, JOURNAL OF BIOMEDICAL OPTICS
  • Membership of editorial board / Editorship, LASERS IN MEDICAL SCIENCE
  • Membership of advisory board / Consultant, Other
  • Board of directors / Trustees / Supervisory board, UvA “Co van Ledden Hulsebosch Center for Forensic Sciences and Medicine”
  • Membership of advisory board / Consultant, Innovative Medical Devices Initiative
  • Membership of medical or scientific committee, University of Amsterdam, Universitaire Onderzoek Commissie (UOC)
  • Membership of medical or scientific committee, NWO: Netherlands Organisation, FOM: advisory and monitoring committee on “Phenomenological physics”
Current research funding
  • AMC
  • Europese Unie
  • Life Sciences Health TKI
  • NWO (Vrijgesteld)
  • Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland
  • SURFnet bv
  • Technische Universiteit Eindhoven
  • Technologiestichting STW