Twelve November it is World Pneumonia Day. Camielle Noordam did PhD research on pneumonia in children in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite improved access to healthcare, every year millions of children die before reaching their 5th birthday. Those in sub-Saharan Africa have the highest risk of mortality. Infections form the biggest threat, and of these, pneumonia is the most prevalent. Camielle Noordam spent many years living and working in Africa. Here she discusses the obstacles to proper medical care.
If you’re accustomed to approaching your professors with awe, it comes as something of a surprise when your PhD supervisor encourages you to use his first name, puts his feet up on the table as you brainstorm study designs together, and prefers you to just drop by rather than emailing in advance. Professor Luc van Loon’s style has grown on his PhD candidate Jean Nyakayiru, but it took some getting used to. “We did have to beat out of him that formal style of address”, Van Loon laughs. Nyakayiru hopes to defend his thesis in Maastricht next year.
The ‘Maastricht Study’, launched in 2010, reveals that the number of people in the preliminary phase of diabetes is much higher than initially thought: roughly a million people in the Netherlands alone. “We’re living in a time in which we can justifiably call diabetes an epidemic”, says Professor Coen Stehouwer, the director of the unique study. The researchers suspect that, beyond lifestyle-related factors, other factors are at play here. The study will run until 2019, but the preliminary results are unequivocal: “We’re living in a time in which we can justifiably call diabetes an epidemic.”
He’s soft, he’s cute and he wants to get your attention. Cuddle him and he’ll respond by turning his head towards you, making eye contact and producing adorable little noises. He’s irresistible – and yet, he’s not alive. Meet Paro, a socially assistive robot in the form of a baby harp seal. He and robots like him represent the future of elderly care.
Exposure to a chilly environment causes muscles to absorb more glucose from the blood. This surprising discovery by Patrick Schrauwen, professor of diabetes at Maastricht University (UM), inspired a new area of research and promises to improve the lives of people with diabetes. It also earned Schrauwen a publication in the leading journal Nature Medicine.
Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have to make some tough decisions. In April, the Maastricht University Medical Centre+ (MUMC+) launched the Breast Cancer Decision Aid for patients with early stage breast cancer. The aim of this digital tool is to help women make an informed choice between breast-conserving therapy and a mastectomy with or without breast reconstruction. “International studies show that patients are less likely to regret their decision and more likely to be satisfied with their treatment when they get the chance to make choices together with the doctor and the treatment team”, says the project leader Trudy van der Weijden. “We’re convinced that using the Breast Cancer Decision Aid improves the dialogue between doctor and patient.”
The ‘father’ of Liberal Arts and Sciences in Maastricht, Louis Boon spearheaded the launch of University College Maastricht (UCM) and the Maastricht Science Programme (MSP). Now, as dean of Campus Venlo, he is gearing up to get University College Venlo (UCV) off the ground as of September. He is a keen proponent of the open curriculum model. "If it were up to me, this would be the model for the entire university."
You could be forgiven for thinking time has no impact on Professor Rob Reneman. In August, when the Amsterdam native turns 80, he’ll probably still be working at Maastricht University three days a week. Founder of the cardiovascular research institute CARIM and former president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), he is busy working on his final publications. "But I’m going to call it a day once I’m done with these. Time is starting to catch up with me; physically, things are not what they once were. Getting up early is becoming harder and harder, and now that I’m less busy painful memories seem to surface more often. But every day my brain keeps working is a gift."