Ilona Cuijpers obtained her Bachelor and Master degrees in Biomedical Science from Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, in 2014 and 2016, respectively. During her bachelor she performed her bachelor internship at the department of Molecular Genetics at Maastricht University. Here, she studied the potential anti-inflammatory and cholesterol lowering capacity of 27-hydroxycholesterol in lysosomal cholesterol storage disease Niemann-Pick Type C1 disease under supervision of Prof. Ronit Shiri-Sverlov and Mike Jeurissen. In her master program her interest in inflammation and unraveling molecular mechanism was further elaborated by studying the role of obesity-induced adipose tissue macrophages in Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis at the department of Internal Medicine, Maastricht Univeristy, under supervision of Dr. Kristiaan Wouters and Mitchell Bijnen. Her work resulted in the presentation of the abstract at the Dutch Diabetes Research Meeting, Oosterbeek, 2016. To complete her master degrees, she ivestigated the potential therapeutic capacity of plant stanols in Niemann-Pick Type C1 disease under supervision of Prof. Ronit Shiri-Sverlov and Tom Houben. After eight months, she was selected from up to 200 abstracts to present her work at the Mosa Conference at Maastricht University.
Her interest in inflammatory responses and cardiovascular diseases brought her to join the group of Prof. Stephane Heymans. In September 2016, she started to work as a PhD student at the Cardiology Department, Maastricht University and an affiliated researcher at KULeuven, Belgium, under supervision of Ass. Prof. Anna Papageorgiou aiming to investigate the role of extracellular matrix and leukocytes in inflammation and microvascular changes during heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.