Excessive alcohol consumption fosters risk behaviour and addiction. But government action is often a long time coming, observe addiction researchers Ronald Knibbe and Dike van de Mheen. Health services for alcoholics may have greatly improved, but they are no substitute for changing drinking behaviour and preventing alcoholism in the first place. And until the government takes action, researchers must stay on its case.


Cystic Fibrosis (CF) can be detected in the Netherlands by taking a neonatal heel prick several days after birth. Paediatrician Annette Vernooij-Van Langen (37) conducted doctoral research on the benefits, consequences and cost-effectiveness of two new CF screening methods. The results of her research changed how neonatal heel pricks are performed in the Netherlands. Since 1 May 2011, all newborns are screened for CF. 

Our bladder is not only controlled by signals from our brain – it also has its own regulatory mechanism. On 22 November, Sajjad Rahnama’i (34), a medical doctor from Iran, will defend his PhD research on overactive bladder syndrome (OAB). The Maastricht University (UM) researcher was the first in the world to identify prostaglandin E receptors in the bladder wall that can help in the treatment of OAB.

“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.

Blood clotting research on the Alps

In Body
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 14:37
Oxygen deficiency increases the risk of thrombosis – at least, this was the suspicion. Now, thanks to a spectacular research expedition to the thin air atop an Alpine summit, there is certainty. The research leader Bas de Laat from Synapse, a spin-off company of Maastricht University, used a new testing method that can predict thrombosis early.

According to the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG), people with dementia should only be euthanised if they are able to give informed consent when the time comes – even if they have aliving will. “Doctors struggle these days with euthanasia requests that are not about physical but psychological suffering”, says Job Metsemakers, professor of General Practice Medicine. “They want more clarity.” This is understandable, says the medical ethics lecturerRob Houtepen: “It’s important that the considerations involved in the end of life are laid down in legal criteria, but there must remain room for interpretation.”

PhD dissertation Tetiana Stepurko 

Gifts, tips and bribes to health care providers are common in many countries in Central and Eastern Europe. This thesis studies these informal patient payments in Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Ukraine. It appears that “gifts and bribes” continue to exist in these countries despite reforms of the health care sector.  The extent of the payment differs: they are more widespread in Romania and Ukraine than in Bulgaria and Poland.

That medical treatments work better for some patients than for others is becoming increasingly evident in clinical practice. This ‘patient heterogeneity’, however, is being largely ignored when deciding whether a certain treatment should be reimbursed. The argument: when using economic evaluations to reach a reimbursement decision by the government, the necessary data to consider individual cases is simply lacking. In his dissertation, Bram Ramaekers proves that it is indeed possible to determine the cost-effectiveness of a particular treatment, such as proton therapy for head and neck carcinoma, in specific patient subgroups. “I think this is the way forward.”

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