One-eyed man in the land of the blind

In Society
Thursday, 05 February 2015 09:09

From his humble beginnings as a medical student and later a radiologist, Loek Winter is now the largest private healthcare operator in the Netherlands. “My goal is to be to healthcare what Joop van den Ende is to the Dutch media.” He sowed the seeds of his career at the fledgling Rijksuniversiteit Limburg, the predecessor of Maastricht University (UM).

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the recent cases of bird flu in Europe make it all the more clear that health is a global matter. Two master’s programmes at Maastricht University’s (UM) Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences offer the requisite international approach: the MSc in Health Professions Education and the MSc in Global Health. In recent years, these programmes have attracted increasing numbers of students and professionals from all over the world. Programme directors Renée Stalmeijer and Anja Krumeich are preparing for yet more applications.

One step closer to an anti-stress pill

In Mind
Tuesday, 27 January 2015 11:07

If PhD candidate Dennis Hernaus had been in a PET scanner in recent weeks, it would have probably become apparent that the dopamine levels in his brain had reached unprecedented heights. The neurotransmitter dopamine is best known for its role in the experience of happiness. “Completing my dissertation, working towards my defence on 22 January and the Kootstra Talent Fellowship I received in December were all important reward experiences,” he laughs. For about ten years, the fact that dopamine also plays a role in the experience of stress has been part of the scientific understanding on which his dissertation builds. In the future, he hopes to contribute to the development of medication for stress-related psychological problems.

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.

He’s a lumberjack and he’s OK

Wednesday, 17 September 2014 09:51
Isn’t that just always the way it goes: now that the photographer and the interviewer are watching you work, the chainsaw doesn’t want to start. After a few attempts, the shrill sound at last cuts through the silence of the village of Wahlwiller. The professor lowers the saw into one of the many tree trunks lying ready to be cut into chunks. Soon after, his axe whizzes down with deadly accuracy: chop! Chop! CHOP!! With every stroke, Professor Albert Scherpbier clears his mind. “And then lighting the fire – that’s just fun.”

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. 

Life as a UM student, 40 years ago

In Alumni
Wednesday, 28 May 2014 13:02
In 1974 – forty years ago, and two years before Maastricht University was even recognised as an institution – the first medical students started their studies at what was then the Rijksuniversiteit Limburg. These 49 adventurous scholars were the first to set foot in the new establishment and take part in its ground-breaking learning system, Problem-Based Learning (PBL).

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