Professor Rob Beelen finished his study biochemistry cum laude in 1976 at the University of Amsterdam and obtained his PhD at the VU University, Amsterdam in 1980. His dissertation was entitled: "Milky spots and their relation with peritoneal macrophages" (Promotor: Prof. H. Langevoort) and pointed out that all macrophage subsets have a common precursor.
Initially in 1980 he was appointed Assistant Professor in the department of Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology at VUmc, after which he worked as a special research fellow in the division of Immunology (supervisor Dr. WS Walker) St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis TN, USA (1982-1983). After his return to the VU University in 1984 he obtained his SBWO assignment "Immunology" in 1987 and became head of the haematology laboratory (including the blood transfusion and routine haematology labs) at the department of Internal Medicine at the AZVU Hospital in Amsterdam. In 1989 he returned to the department of Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology at the VU medical centre as Associate Professor and research group leader.
Rob Beelen has a strong and long-standing research line in the field of peritoneal cell biology and wound healing, heavily supported by grants from Netherlands Organization for Scientific research (NWO), the Dutch Kidney Foundation, the Dutch Cancer Society, Dutch Asthma Foundation, the Dutch Burns Association as well as private sector sponsoring.
Within the last decade his research group studied the immunological role of especially macrophages and other innate cells in wound healing and inflammation. In collaboration with the department of surgery at the VUmc Rob Beelen established a major line of inquiry focusing on the effects of different surgical techniques and modulations on the immunological functions and tumour spread, this line is now primary lead by Dr. Marjolein van Egmond. Furthermore, the role of Peritoneal Dialysis (PD) fluids and new mediators has been studied in close collaboration with the department of Nephrology at the VUmc. In sophisticated experimental PD models and clinical trials these very productive research lines have produced significant insights in the field of inflammation and to prevent fibrosis and induce tissue remodelling and repair, relevant for the clinical setting of PD. As spin-off from this line he established a firm line on (burn) wound healing in close collaboration with the department of plastic surgery VUmc (Dr. Niessen) and VSBN Beverwijk (Dr. Ulrich). Together with Dr. Magda Ulrich (Plastic Surgery VUmc/VSBN) now a cohort of 5 PhD students and one post-doc are working in this field.
Besides his research activities he has a strong position in the educational scheme of the department. Presently he is course coordinator and/or supervisor of several graduate and undergraduate courses and has a leading role in the examination and education committee of the VUmc Graduate Program in Oncology, the education committee of the Cancer Centre Amsterdam/VU Institute of Cancer and Immunology (CCA/VICI) and the examination committee of the undergraduate track in Biomedical Sciences (Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University, Amsterdam). Moreover, in 2011 Rob Beelen took a leading role as coordinator to establish an international network of European Training and Research in Peritoneal Dialysis (EuTRiPD), training the next generation of PD specialists (sponsored by the European Commission in the 7th Framework Programme).