Elisabeth van Rossum (1975, MD, PhD) is internist-endocrinologist, and full professor in the field of obesity and biological stress. She obtained her MD in 2000 (cum laude) and her PhD in 2005 (cum laude). Her research focuses on the biology of obesity as well as the role of corticosteroids in health and disease (cardiometabolic diseases and psychiatric disorders). She is internationally acknowledged for her innovative research with a significant societal impact, which is also shown by extensive (inter)national media attention for her research.
Van Rossum is leading the endocrine stress research group at the Erasmus University Medical Center and is co-founder of the Obesity Center CGG (Centrum Gezond Gewicht) for diagnostics of underlying causes of obesity and innovative treatments.
Van Rossum is chair of the Partnership Overweight Netherlands (PON), an umbrella organization of 15 associations of health care professionals, with an advisory role to the Ministry of Public Health Welfare and Sport (VWS). In her clinical role as endocrinologist she developed with her team a successful combined lifestyle intervention programme with cognitive behavioural therapy for sustained weight loss. In her managerial/ political role as chair of PON, she managed to convince the Ministry of VWS and the Dutch health care authorities to include the combined lifestyle interventions in the basic insurance for the Dutch population. This means that in 2019 an estimated 5 million persons with overweight (of a total of 13 million adults in the Netherlands) is be eligible for this treatment. In 2018 and 2020 Van Rossum was invited to present this Dutch obesity policy to the EU policy makers in Brussels, where it became clear that the Netherlands is in the forefront worldwide to combat the obesity epidemic. In 2020 Van Rossum was appointed European co-leader of the focus area Obesity & Diabetes, as well as Top 10 most influencing women of the Netherlands (area health care).
Important for the field of stress research were Van Rossum’s findings on the mechanisms of corticosteroid sensitivity and novel tests to measure this sensitivity. She also developed novel techniques to measure long-term cortisol using scalp hair, and showed them to be biological markers of chronic stress. She and her team studied the major role corticosteroids have in obesity, cardiovascular disease, and psychiatric diseases. She published many peer-reviewed scientific publications or books, and received 20 awards for her scientific research. She closely works with many other disciplines, both in national and international collaborations. In 2020 her book ‘’FAT, the secret organ’’, including a chapter on the relation between stress and overweight, became a bestseller in the Netherlands.
Van Rossum is an internationally highly cited researcher with a significant societal impact.
She is a frequently invited key note speaker, both national (130 presentations in the past year), as well as international (average 5-7 times/year). She gives presentations to scientists (e.g. American and European Congresses of Endocrinology, and European Congress of Obesity), and to lay audiences (e.g. TEDx talk) or politics (e.g. EU policy makers in Brussels). She is considered a key opinion leader in the field of obesity. In this context she is frequently acting in advisory roles for politics and committees, as well as in the media (interviews in (inter)national newspapers (e.g. New York Times, The Sun, La Vangardia, Volkskrant, NRC), radio (BBC, NPO, Radio 1) and TV (Nieuwsuur, Jinek, Beau, Een Vandaag, NOS, RTL news).
She received >20 scientific awards e.g. Award of the Dutch Endocrine Society 2013 for her research achievements (at age 38), the Ziskind-Somerfeld Research Award of The Society of Biological Psychiatry, San Diego, USA, American Society for Aging and Endocrinology and The Glenn Foundation Award, Philadelphia, USA, Young Investigator’s Award, Barcelona, Spain, Steven Hoogendijk Award (Medical Science). Also, her 7 PhD students have been awarded 18 prizes in the past 5 years.
Based on her outstanding scientific achievements, she was appointed member of Young Erasmus Academy (selection of excellent researchers under the age of 45 of all EUR faculties), which she has been chairing from 2015 onwards. In 2016 she was appointed member of the Young Academy of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences.
She was the winner of the National Science Quiz NWO/VPRO 2014 (national TV programme) and listed as Viva400 member (400 most successful women in the Netherlands). She has been appointed Linkedin TOP VOICE 2020 because of her valuable contribution to societal discussions about obesity (and stress).
The Obesity Center CGG (founded by Van Rossum) is appointed as “Best Practice” by Dutch health care authorities, and appointed European Expert.Obesity Center in Nov 2020.
Next to her patient care she has been successful in obtaining grants: >10 M€, e.g. VENI (2008), VIDI (2016), US Thrasher Research Fund, Netherlands Brain Foundation. She was chair of the annual Congress of the Dutch Endocrine Society (2013-2019), and the National Obesity Symposia and is a member of clinical guideline committees, e.g. chair of the National Obesity guideline.
She holds multiple board memberships, most relevant: president of the Partnership Overweight Netherlands, Dutch Endocrine Society (2013-2019), and board member of Stress-NL.
In 2020 Van Rossum was appointed European co-leader of the focus area Obesity, Diabetes, Nutrition and Metabolism of the European Society of Endocrinology, and she has been active in e.g. International Obesity Genetics group, and international Glucocorticoids and Mood working group.
van Rossum EF. Obesity and cortisol: New perspectives on an old theme. Obesity 2017;25:500-501.
Quax RA, Manenschijn L, Koper J, Hazes J, Lamberts SWJ, van Rossum EFC, Feelders RA. Glucocorticoid sensitivity in health and disease. Nature Reviews Endocrinology 2013;183.
Staufenbiel SM, Penninx BW, Spijker AT, Elzinga BM, van Rossum EFC. Hair cortisol, stress exposure and mental health in humans: a systematic review. Psychoneuroendocrinology 2013;38:1220-35.
EFC van Rossum, EB Binder, M Majer, JW Koper, M Ising, S Modell, D Salyakina, SW Lamberts, F Holsboer. Polymorphisms of the glucocorticoid receptor gene and major depression. Biological Psychiatry 2006;59: 681-688.
L Manenschijn, L Schaap, NM van Schoor, S van der Pas, GMEE Peeters, P Lips, JW Koper, EFC van Rossum. High long-term cortisol levels, measured in scalp hair, are associated with a history of cardiovascular disease. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2013;98:2078-83.