Dr R.J. Oostra (1965) has been named Professor of Anatomy and Embryology, specialising in clinical and comparative morphology, at the University of Amsterdam's Faculty of Medicine (AMC-UvA).
Roelof-Jan Oostra studies the development of the heart in cold-blooded vertebrates, with specific focus on the development of the heart chamber wall, which is deficient by nature. Developmental defects in the heart chamber wall are the leading cause of congenital heart defects in humans.
Oostra is dedicated to emphasising anatomy and embryology in education. The focus is on education using human remains, in particular dissection and clinically-integrated courses. Students receive hands-on instruction in anatomical structures in relation to diagnostic conceptualization and surgical approaches. A crucial aspect is that the clinical context and relevance of the subject are continuously kept in mind. The research group has begun to compile an interactive digital 3D-atlas of the entire human embryonic development based on digital image processing and reconstructions of microscopic tissue specimens. The idea is to enable students to use embryology as a tool for understanding normal anatomy and to gain insight into the causes of congenital birth defects.
Oostra joined the AMC's Anatomy, Embryology and Physiology department in 1997, where he started out as a lecturer and later became the general education coordinator. He is the chairman of the Faculty Committee for Medicine, and is a member of the faculty committees for the Biomedical Sciences Bachelor's programme and the Forensic Science Master's programme. As the curator for the Vrolik Museum he wrote a series of articles about the museum's collection of specimens of congenital birth defects. Oostra participates in various molecular biology and clinical research projects.