“Every individual with a developmental disorder has the right to a diagnosis.” These are the words of Connie Stumpel, professor of Clinical Genetics at Maastricht University and head of the Clinical Genetics outpatient clinic at the MUMC+. She also chairs the board of the Stichting Vooruit, a foundation for children with disabilities.

“Fortunately, sheep don’t bark”

Thursday, 04 July 2013 07:48
Back home after his two-hour train commute, the first thing Johan Vlaeyen does is visit his sheep. “It helps me switch off and unwind”, says the professor of Behavioural Medicine at the universities of Maastricht and Leuven. His home in the Belgian countryside overlooks a pasture on which his flock of 18 Mergelland sheep graze.

As a law student in Brussels, Christine van den Wyngaert wanted nothing more than to follow in the footsteps of her heroes, the singers Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell. And so she did. A regular on stage, she released her first LP in 1971. But this was also her last. She embarked instead on an academic career – again, not without success. In 1985 Van den Wyngaert became professor of Criminal Law at the University of Antwerp. Now she is a judge at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, helping to administer the first dose of international criminal justice. On 31 May, she will be awarded an honorary doctorate from Maastricht University.

A doctor with a mission

In Body
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 15:21
Vivianne Tjan-Heijnen knew from a young age that she wanted to become an oncologist. When she was 16, her grandmother died of bladder cancer without even knowing she was ill. It was simply never discussed: “Only my mother and her brother knew. That’s just the way it was in the early ‘80s. My grandmother lived with us, so it had a big impact on me. I decided then and there to become a doctor to make sure no-one else would ever die of cancer. Naturally that’s what I thought as a teenager.” Now, over 30 years later and the head of the Department of Medical Oncology at the MUMC+, she is committed to providing quality care for cancer patients.

Following a role model in science

In Body
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 15:07
In 2010 Axel zur Hausen (45) was appointed professor of Pathology at Maastricht University. One year later, his niece Talisa (20) started the European Studies programme. And finally, in 2012 her grandfather and his father, Professor Harald zur Hausen (76), accepted the Tefaf Oncoloy Chair in Maastricht. The virologist and 2008 Nobel Prize winner inspired or – as Axel puts it – even ‘pushed’ many of his family members towards a career in science. “Eight years ago, when I was first appointed professor, I compared myself to my father; he was one year younger than I was when he accepted his first chair”, says Axel. “But since the Nobel Prize, there’s no comparison anymore.” Three generations of zur Hausens talk about family ties, science and ambitions.

Poet in academia

In Culture
Tuesday, 23 October 2012 15:04

In late June, Wiel Kusters stepped down from his post as professor of General and Dutch Literature. But, he says, the poet and author Kusters will never retire. We sat down with him to talk academia, language, art, the uninhibited approach and the toppling of reality.

We need women at the top

Tuesday, 23 October 2012 14:42

The future of the academic world belongs to women. A bold statement? Perhaps. Yet it seems a justified conclusion when looking at the figures: not only do women tend to have higher grades than their male counterparts, but they also outnumber men among university graduates. Paradoxically, however, the female presence in top academic positions is best characterised by its absence. For this reason Cathrien Bruggeman, one of the first female professors at Maastricht University (UM), took the initiative of creating an all-female PhD committee this summer. "I wanted to draw attention to women's underrepresentation in a frivolous manner", she says. "I want young women to get equal opportunities to reach the top."

At the age of 10, Hans van Hall wondered why the Diepstraat in the picturesque town of Eijsden was so wide. Fifty years later he answers this question himself in his PhD dissertation, ‘Eijsden, een vrijheid met Luikse stadsrechten’ (‘Eijsden: Liberty with Liège City Rights’). “In the Middle Ages, this village had its own justice system. That was unique in the region we now know as South Limburg.”

They sit companionably side by side; supervisor Louis Berkvens and PhD candidate Hans van Hall. Both in their 60s, both at the end of first-rate scholarly careers. There are few signs of a typical student–teacher hierarchy in this relationship. “Absolutely not”, the professor says immediately. “We’ve worked on a great book together for six years; on a dissertation with more social relevance than the outside world initially suspected. And it’s been unlike any other PhD project I’ve worked on. Most of the time I spent on it was my own spare time. We usually met at some nice place in the city or at home with a cup of coffee. Pleasantly illegal, I’m tempted to say.”

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