Elke Krekels is assistant professor at the Division of Systems Biomedicine and Pharmacology.
Dr. Elke H.J. Krekels developed a keen interest in pharmacometrics (i.e. model-based pharmacological research), during her BSc and MSc studies Biopharmaceutical Sciences at Leiden University. For this she performed three internships focusing on preclinical pharmacological research questions; two at the Division of Pharmacology of the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR) and one at the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca in Södertälje, Sweden.
Her PhD research, which was a collaboration between the Division of Pharmacology of the LACDR and the Department of Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care from the Erasmus MC/Sophia Children’s Hospital in Rotterdam, aimed at developing and validating novel, model-based approaches to establish drug dosing recommendations for children. For this she developed population pharmacokinetic models that allowed her to optimize the regimen of specific drugs (e.g. morphine in post-operative newborns and infants) by correcting for differences in drug exposure between patients of different ages. Additionally, she developed novel concepts to derive generalizable dose recommendations for drugs that share elimination routes. For her work she received the PhD thesis award as well as the Best Publication Award from Dutch Society for Clinical Pharmacology & Biopharmacy (NVKF&B) in 2012.
In 2012, Dr. Krekels started a two-year postdoctoral research position at the Pharmacometrics Research Group at Uppsala University, Sweden. Here she expanded her pharmacometric skills by applying item response theory to longitudinal data of disease severity measures for schizophrenia that are based on a multi-item questionnaire-based clinical scale (i.e. PANSS). She was the first to apply item response theory for a clinical scale that consists of multiple sub-scales. In addition, Dr. Krekels performed a population pharmacokinetic analysis of data from a phase 3 clinical trial including more than 10,000 patients for the drug edoxaban that was in the clinical drug development phase at that time.
As an assistant professor at the Division of Systems Biomedicine and Pharmacology of the LACDR, Dr. Krekels currently continues to work on developing new strategies for optimizing paediatric drug dosing recommendations taking both pharmacokinetics as well as pharmacodynamics into account. In 2015 she also joined a research collaboration between colleagues from the LACDR and from the Institute Biology Leiden (IBL) which initiated the first translational pharmacological research line in zebrafish larvae.
In 2018 she received a personal Off Road research grant (ZonMw) that allowed her to develop a preclinical experimental model to study neonatal sepsis in zebrafish larvae. The ultimate aim of this research line is to obtain relatively large amounts of data from this experimental model and use this in combination with existing but inherently sparse clinical data, to develop a Quantitative Systems Pharmacology (QSP) model for neonatal sepsis. This model will generate an integrated understanding of this disease mechanism for neonatal sepsis, which is imperative for the identification of prognostic biomarkers and new treatment targets for this disease.
For the bachelor's and master's programmes Biopharmaceutical Sciences Dr. Krekels teaches on pharmacology and pharmacometrics as well as on scientific research and drug development in general. As an active member of the teaching team of these bachelor's and master's programmes, she contributes to the design and restructuring of the curriculum and implementation of teaching innovations. She is particularly motivated to promote inclusion of computational-based research in the programme curricula.