On 2 April at Maastricht University, Hannah van den Ende will defend her thesis titled ‘Don’t forget that you're a doctor: Jewish doctors in the Netherlands in 1940-1945’. She studied the experiences of 534 Dutch-Jewish doctors who had to work under extreme conditions during WWII, which also caused them to struggle with many ethical dilemmas. “During peacetime, making a healthy person sick was out of the question, but in times of war it seemed absolutely justified.”


UM students head to Japan for double degree

In Body
Thursday, 05 February 2015 12:15

Call it a kind of integration ritual. An extended introduction to Japanese traditions and customs, including soaking up culture in temples and shrines and attending a school festival in a kimono. This awaited the UM students of the European–Japan double master’s degree in Neuroscience (Edu-Neuro EU-JP) on their arrival in Japan.


Learning not to eat

In Mind
Wednesday, 04 February 2015 13:50

Imagine: you adore chocolate. White, dark, filled with caramel, whatever. You only have to see it or smell it and you’re sold. And you rarely stick to just the one bonbon – no, you eat the whole box in one go. Chances are, you’re also overweight. This irresistible urge, the overpowering desire to overeat, is much more prevalent in obese people than in thin people. The good news is that, with the help of a psychologist, you can ‘unlearn’ this uncontrollable eating behaviour. The bad news is that it’s not yet clear whether you’ll also lose weight.


Deducing from a single hair what drug a person has taken and when, to within an hour’s accuracy. This is just one of the possibilities offered by mass spectrometry (put simply, the photography of molecules). Ron Heeren is a specialist in this technology. As of 1 September, Heeren is a ‘university professor’ in Maastricht, a special post granted on the basis of his scientific achievements. His research group in Maastricht will focus on medical applications of the mass spectrometer. “It’s a fantastic tool for personalised medicine”, he says. Together with fellow university professor, the nanobiologist Peter Peters, he is joint head of the new Maastricht MultiModal Molecular Imaging Institute (M4I). With the launch of the M4I, Maastricht is now the largest imaging centre in Europe.


Healthy pupils who get the most out of themselves

In Body
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 09:18
Raising healthy children who feel good in their own skin and can put their talents to good use: this is the aim of the Healthy Primary School of the Future. This is a new educational concept in the Parkstad region, supported by the Province of Limburg. The curriculum revolves around a healthy diet, sport and exercise, cultural activities and the psychological wellbeing of pupils. According to Maastricht University (UM), the educational foundation Movare and the Regional Public Health Service (GGD) for South Limburg, the initiative is an excellent investment for the future. “Going to school should be a party”, says UM professor Onno van Schayck. “That’s my ideal picture.”

In the early 1990s Wim Saris, professor of Human Nutrition at Maastricht University, considered taking a different research direction. “At the time we had only a basic understanding of why a diet might work for one person but not another, and we had trouble getting much further than that.” But he saw the light at a 1994 conference in Colorado (USA), where molecular biologists presented the next big thing in genomics research: nutrigenomics. “It was spectacular; perhaps the biggest change of the past three decades.” Saris will deliver his farewell lecture, ‘Something to chew on’, on 6 June. 

This year Hans Clevers will hold the TEFAF chair in Maastricht, just one of the many honours he has received for his pioneering research on intestinal cancer. As president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), Clevers cautions against the continuous cutbacks in research funding for Dutch universities. A new generation of scientists is being nipped in the bud, he warns.

Contrary to the common claim, a surgical robot does not work faster and more accurately than a pair of human hands. This is the essence of new research by Jeroen Heemskerk (41), a surgeon at the Laurentius Hospital in Roermond. On 16 May, Heemskerk will defend his PhD research on robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery at Maastricht University (UM). “The use of robots can lower the quality of healthcare and certainly makes it more expensive. And that while we’re seeing cutbacks from all sides.”

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