Learning how the world really works

In Body
Friday, 17 February 2012 08:04

Venlo lies in the centre of the largest horticultural area in Central Europe. It is also a global logistics hub. It comes as no surprise, then, that Maastricht University (UM) has launched a second campus in this northern Limburg city for, among other things, two master’s programmes that reflect the needs of the region. Fred Brouns, professor of Health Food Innovation, discusses ‘functional food’ and why 97% of food products with health claims turn out to be flops.

How healthy is exercise for the heart muscle?

In Body
Friday, 07 October 2011 09:48

Playing sports and getting enough exercise are good for our health – no-one will disagree with that. But according to findings by PhD candidates Alma Mingels and Leo Jacobs, strenuous exercise can in some cases be bad for the heart. “We want to gain insight into the risk of heart damage due to exertion, and we hope to find biomarkers that we can use to detect this in the blood. The aim, in time, is to adjust the training regimes of athletes or the intensity of exercise to the risks.”

The privatisation of healthcare demands that education, research and medical practice all be clustered under a single umbrella. To this end, the Maastricht/Aachen region aims to be a top European centre in the field of cardiovascular diseases. This is the mission of cross-border “quartermaster” Professor Michael Jacobs, head of surgery at the Maastricht academic hospital (azM). “As a hospital, you can no longer afford to go it alone.”

On Wednesdays and Fridays, at dawn and weather permitting, the cardiovascular surgeon gets on his racing bike in Maastricht and crosses the 30 kilometres of hilly terrain to the University Hospital Aachen. Then, after a long day in the operating theatre, he gets back on his bike for the return trip to South Limburg. “It’s nice to get 60 kilometres’ worth of physical exercise, and time to clear your head and think. Golf, my other addiction, gives you no time at all to think about work. Because if you’re not concentrating you won’t hit the ball well.” 

Drugs & Driving (video)

In Body
Thursday, 22 December 2011 14:37

Psychiatrists, patients, regulators and pharmaceutical companies want to know what the influence of drugs is on driving. The Experimental Psychopharmacology Unit has been conducting driving tests on public highways for 25 years, commissioned by pharmaceutical companies and other groups. 

The privatisation of healthcare is one of the few options that will help to put a lid on rising healthcare costs. This is a view that enjoys broad political support, especially with a liberal government in power. However, it is highly questionable whether competition and commercialisation will genuinely contribute to the affordability of healthcare in the Netherlands. “That’s an illusion”, concludes Hans Maarse, professor of Policy Sciences at Maastricht’s Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, after a comprehensive five-year study financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

DTC: Difficult and Too Costly

In Money
Saturday, 15 October 2011 13:47

How the DTC system influences medical specialists

The Diagnosis Treatment Combination (DTC) was implemented in the Netherlands in 2005 to promote market forces in the healthcare sector. By introducing production incentives, the government also hoped to improve efficiency. But in 2011, PhD candidate Fleur Hasaart revealed that specialists and hospitals can be less than honest when it comes to making DTC claims; for example, expensive treatments are sometimes prescribed unnecessarily because they are more lucrative for the hospital. Indeed, some hospitals can be said to have a “declaration culture”. Hasaart: “In the future, health insurers will have to keep a sharp eye on what they’re paying for.”

Eat proteins to lose weight

In Body
Tuesday, 07 June 2011 14:33

Extremely overweight? According to DiOGenes, a European study in which Maastricht University (UM) took part, protein-rich foods like lean meat and wholegrain bread may be the solution. So is the search now over for the holy grail of weight loss? “No, but when obese people lose weight it will help them to maintain their new weight”, says Marleen van Baak, endowed professor of Physiology of Obesity and DiOGenes project leader for Maastricht.


Tuesday, 07 June 2011 15:04

Euregional collaboration as basis for top performance

Cross-border scientific collaboration. It should be a fact of life, certainly here in the Meuse-Rhine Euregion with its high concentration of universities and research institutes. Practitioners have been resistant. But the founding of BioMiMedics is a big step in the right direction, as UM professor and project leader Leo Koole explains.

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