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Exclusive Interview with Dr. Erik A. Sistermans: Circulating Nucleic Acids in Bodily Fluids: Noninvasive Prenatal Testing and Beyond

Published on: 20 Jul 2022 Viewed: 90

The discovery of circulating cell-free fetal DNA in maternal plasma has made a paradigm shift in noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT), rapidly being translated into clinical practices worldwide. With great honor, we have invited Dr. Erik Sistermans from Amsterdam UMC, the Netherlands, to share his research progress on noninvasive prenatal testing, specific issues of public concern, and suggestions to the junior researchers to develop their careers.

Dr. Erik Sistermans is a Clinical Laboratory Geneticist, with both a national (VKGL) and a European (EBMG) registration. He is head of the Genome analysis laboratory of Amsterdam UMC, which involves the Genome Diagnostics laboratory, the NIPT screening laboratory and the Core Facility Genomics (CFG).

His research interests focus on the improvement of prenatal screening and diagnostics. Based on the results obtained from the Dutch TRIDENT studies (Trial by Dutch laboratories for Evaluation of Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing), he and his team are investigating genetic factors involved in clinical problems that can occur during and after pregnancy, such as growth restriction, early fetal demise and preeclampsia. Another interest is widening the scope of NIPT, what is technologically feasible and how this can be implemented in a responsible way.

Dr. Sistermans is board member of the Dutch non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT) Consortium and project leader of the TRIDENT studies. He is board member of the VKGL (Vereniging Klinisch Genetische Laboratoriumdiagnostiek), chair of the advisory board of Genomic Quality Assessment (GenQA) and associate editor of Extracellular Vesicles and Circulating Nucleic Acids (EVCNA).

Let's walk through the interview to find out brilliant insights!

Q1: We know that your current research is focused on noninvasive prenatal testing. Could you please introduce more details about your current research progress and achievements?

Q2: The discovery of circulating cell-free fetal DNA in maternal plasma has made a paradigm shift in noninvasive prenatal testing, rapidly being translated into clinical practices worldwide. Could you please introduce the current progress in the clinical practices?

Q3: We know that, in the Netherlands, NIPT is offered within a governmentally supported screening program as a first-tier screening test for all pregnant women. However, concerns have been raised that the favorable characteristics of the test might lead to uncritical use, also referred to as routinization. What do you think about the public's concerns?

Q4: Despite the benefits, the introduction of NIPT into routine prenatal care also raises a number of ethical concerns. Could you please share some of your views from a researcher’s sight?

Q5: What do you think about the future of NIPT?

Q6: As a senior researcher, what would you like to share with the junior researchers about their #careerdevelopment?


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