After receiving a BSc in Liberal Arts and Sciences from University College Roosevelt (The Netherlands), I went on to do a MSc in Biomedical Sciences at University College London. For my research project, I joined the laboratory of Prof. Elizabeth Shephard, investigating the microbiome of mice with regard to age, gender and a therapeutic in the context of trimethylaminuria. After my graduation in 2014, I continued working on the topic for another year, resulting in three publications.
Rather than continuing in academia, I ended up working for a market research company for a few years, overseeing all the quantitative statistics. Even though I enjoyed the work, I started to miss the challenges of academia and decided to apply for the MRC DTP programme at King’s.
The MRC DTP has a wide range of research projects to choose from, with clinical elements as well. It offered me an opportunity to develop skills in neuroscience and neuroimaging, as well as offering a wide variety of workshops addressing other skills and techniques.
The role of subgenual frontal connectivity in predicting response to serotonergic medications
Currently, treatment in major depressive disorder (MDD) resembles a bit of a hit-and-miss approach, with half of patients not responding to their first course of antidepressants. There is evidence that suggests that connectivity and activity of certain brain regions, most notably the subgenual frontal, might be able to prospectively predict whether MDD patients will respond. My project uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a form of neuroimaging, to explore the potential of neural signatures for determining which patients will respond to treatment or not. If successful, this could help in tailoring treatment to patients.
Lawrence, A. J., Stahl, D., Duan, S., Fennema, D., Jaeckle, T., Young, A. H., Dazzan, P., Moll, J., and Zahn, R. (2021). Neurocognitive measures of self-blame and risk prediction models of recurrence in major depressive disorder. medRxiv doi: 10.1101/2021.01.13.21249739
Harrison, P., Carr, E., Goldsmith, K., Young, A., Ashworth, M., Fennema, D., Barrett, B., & Zahn, R. (2020). Study protocol for the Antidepressant Advisor (ADeSS): A decision support system for antidepressant treatment for depression in UK primary care: a feasibility study. BMJ Open, 10(5), e035905. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2019-035905.
Fennema, D., Harrison, P., Barker, G. J., and Zahn, R. Who benefits from standard antidepressants? Preliminary findings supporting a moral sentiment-task based functional MRI measure for personalising treatment. Poster presented at the 10th conference of the International Society for Affective Disorders; November 2019; London, UK.
Fennema, D., Philips, I. R., and Shephard, E. A. (2016). Trimethylamine and trimethylamine N-oxide, a flavin-containing monooxygenase 3 (FMO3)-mediated host-microbiome metabolic axis implicated in health and disease. Drug Metabolism and Disposition, 44(11), 1839-1850. doi:10.1124/dmd.116.070615
Scott, F., Gonzalez Malagon, S. G., O’Brien, B. A., Fennema, D., Veeravalli, S., Coveney, C. R., Philips, I. R., and Shephard, E. A. (2017). Identification of flavin-containing monooxygenase 5 (FMO5) as a regulator of glucose homeostasis and a potential sensor of gut bacteria. Drug Metabolism and Disposition, 45(9), 982-989. doi:10.1124/dmd.117.076612
Veeravalli, S., Karu, K., Scott, F., Fennema, D., Philips, I. R. and Shephard, E. A. (2018). Effect of flavin-containing monooxygenase (FMO) genotype, mouse strain and gender on trimethylamine N-oxide production, plasma cholesterol concentration and an index of atherosclerosis. Drug Metabolism and Disposition, 46(1), 20-25. doi: 10.1124/dmd.117.077636