Arjen Brussaard



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Personal profile

Research interests

Arjen Brussaard (1961) studied at the VU University in Amsterdam, but also conducted research at Utrecht University and in the Katonspital of the University of Basel in Switzerland. After completing his MSc degree, he continued to work on his dissertation for 3 years in the admission department of Neurophysiology at VU University Amsterdam. In 1989, Brussaard left for the United States for several years, where he studied at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, in the research institute of the later Nobel Prize winner Prof. dr. Eric Kandel. In the lab led by Prof. dr. Lorna Role he specialized in the field of synapse physiology, nicotine receptors and brain development. In 1992 he returned to VU University Amsterdam (VUA), where he launched a new line of scientific research focused on synapse physiology over the next 5 years. He was the first in the Netherlands to make electrophysiological recordings of synapses under visual control in fresh brain tissue using the so-called patch clamp technology that even enables cellular derivations in human brain tissue on the VU campus in Amsterdam nowadays. 

In 2000, Brussaard was appointed as faculty chair of Experimental Neurophysiology and head of a research department of the same name at the VUA. In 2002 he also became head of the Department of Neurosciences at the VUA and in the same year he - with others - was at the basis of the Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research ( He also founded an accredited two-year Neuroscience research master's program as director of education in 2002, selecting "at the gate" from the start, and which has delivered 30-50 graduates every year since then. The establishment of this graduate program, which was developed in collaboration between VUA and Vumc and his continued commitment to better align the Faculty of Science with the Medical School’s research strategy, ultimately resulted in 2008 in the creation of a new interfactorial research organization, the Neuroscience Campus Amsterdam, which already had more than 450 employees under his chairmanship. 

In the same period, Brussaard served as managing director of a large Dutch research consortium, NeuroBasic PharmaPhenomics, in a collaboration between VUA and other Dutch universities. In 2009 he founded the European Neuroscience Campus Network (ENC-Network, see This international organization acquired and organized both an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master and an Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate program with ultimately > 200 MSc and 45 PhD graduates. In the following period, two other ambitious projects were set up, namely the Translational Neuroscience Network (TN2, see, which has now organized 4 scientific symposia and the Amsterdam Brain & Mind Project (AMBP, that the cooperation between VUA and UvA ensured through a dozen postdoc projects. 

In 2015 he accepted - with Prof. dr. Diederik van de Beek of the former AMC - the assignment of both Boards of Directors of Amsterdam UMC to establish an Amsterdam-wide research organization for Neuroscience research. This led to the start of Amsterdam Neuroscience in 2016 (see, which currently has more than 1,000 employees, the largest research organization in this field in the Netherlands and beyond. The strength of this organization lies mainly in the ability to initiate excellent and clinically relevant translational neuroscience research. 

In 2017, 
Brussaard was also appointed as faculty chair of Translational Medicine in the field of Neurology and Psychiatry at the Amsterdam UMC. His assignment is mainly focused on setting up public private partnership, a role that he can fully deploy through the Industry Alliance Office of Amsterdam UMC and the VUA, which he foundedin 2012. The Industry Alliance Office establishes collaborations between external biotech and pharma companies and the teams of researchers and clinical specialists available within Amsterdam Neuroscience. From 2014 onwards this resulted in a strong entrepreneurial portfolio and especially in a powerful and innovative business development method in the field of contract research and industry sponsored clinical trials. The commitment of the Industry Alliance Office is not so much based on technology transfer (or technology 'push'), but rather on 'market pull', i.e. new interventions and medication are brought to Amsterdam and validated here in a clinical research setting to accelerate the way in which we bring novel interventions into the clinic. 


Translational Medicine in the field of Neurology and Psychiatry

External positions

Scientific Advisor, Alkermes Inc

1 Jan 202131 Dec 2025
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