Jan de Boer

Research profile

Jan is full professor at the department of Biomedical Engineering, where he leads the research group BioInterface Science. He is an experienced University Professor and Chief Scientific Officer with a demonstrated history of working in academia and biotech. As a research professional he is skilled in Stem Cells, Biomaterial Engineering and Regenerative Medicine.  Jan is interested in the molecular complexity of cells and how molecular circuits are involved in cell and tissue function. With a background in mouse and Drosophila genetics, he entered the field of biomedical engineering in 2002 and has since focused on understanding and implementing molecular biology in the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. His research is characterized by a holistic approach to both discovery and application, aiming at combining high throughput technologies, computational modeling and experimental cell biology, to streamline the wealth of biological knowledge to real clinical applications.    

Research description

Inguinal hernias are a common medical problem, affecting as many as 1 in 4 men in their lifetime. In an inguinal hernia, a weak spot has arisen in the soft tissue of the abdominal wall through which the peritoneum or the intestines push as shown in the picture below. This can lead to pain, in which case a surgical mesh can be placed in the abdominal wall for reinforcement. These mesh implants are made of interwoven polypropylene fibers that allow ingrowth of new tissue.


Unfortunately, up to 10% of patients continue to suffer from long-term pain after the implantation of a mesh implant. In some cases this is due to the body's reaction to the implant itself. The patient's immune system recognizes the polypropylene material as foreign, which can lead to chronic inflammation and the formation of a large amount of scar tissue around the implant. This can cause pain, due to compression of nerves and chronic neuronal activation by inflammatory mediators.

A typical mesh to correct inguinal hernias 

Two different types of hernias (exterior and interior)

Selected publications

Zwaans, W.A., Perquin, C.W., Loos, M.J., Roumen, R.M. and Scheltinga, M.R., 2017. Mesh removal and selective neurectomy for persistent groin pain following Lichtenstein repair. World journal of surgery, 41(3), pp.701-712.   

Zwaans, W.A., Verhagen, T., Wouters, L., Loos, M.J., Roumen, R.M. and Scheltinga, M.R., 2018. Groin pain characteristics and recurrence rates: three-year results of a randomized controlled trial comparing self-gripping Progrip mesh and sutured polypropylene mesh for open inguinal hernia repair. 

Zwaans, W.A., Verhagen, T., Roumen, R.M. and Scheltinga, M.R., 2015. Factors determining outcome after surgery for chronic groin pain following a Lichtenstein hernia repair. World journal of surgery, 39(11), pp.2652-2662.