Friday, 01 November 2013 07:58

It’s a man’s world – but not for long

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Cardiovascular diseases manifest differently in men than in women – this is now reasonably well known within and beyond medical science. Yet the male bias in science is still widespread. The traditional test subjects are male rats and, in later research stages, men. “But scientific research that doesn’t take account of sex and gender differences is poor research”, says Dr Ineke Klinge, associate professor of Gender Medicine at Maastricht University. At the request of the European Commission, she led the project Gendered Innovations, which encourages researchers to give sex and gender the place in scientific research they deserve.

What is it like to live in a castle in the year 2013? Like a fairy tale – or just really expensive? Eduard de Loë and his three brothers grew up in the Mheer castle in South Limburg. Today he lives in the German district of Kleve, on an estate he inherited when he was three years old. De Loë is one of the owners who participated in a recent UM study on the conservation of historical estates in Limburg.
The Maastricht Science Programme is now in its third year. The fledgling bachelor’s degree is generating interest from all over the world, and the lecturers and researchers Ariane Perez-Gavilan and Roy Erkens know why. “It has great interaction between students and tutors, freedom of choice in subjects, and crossovers between different fields and disciplines.”
Wednesday, 30 October 2013 09:42

“A doctor is not just a vet with a syringe”

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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.”
Wednesday, 23 October 2013 08:44

“To really sing you need guts”

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It all started in Maastricht: Taking to the stage for the first time while still a student of Health Sciences. Overcoming her shyness to perform her own songs at Studium Generale’s Open Podium nights. And one thing led to another. She won the Grote Prijs van Nederland at the annual Dutch music awards in 2003, performed on the talk show De Wereld Draait Door and at the Dutch music festival Lowlands and released three albums. In her own words, “choosing is the hardest thing there is” – but singer/songwriter Marike Jager seems to have chosen exactly her own path.
Wednesday, 23 October 2013 08:37

Keep an ear out for Elia Formisano

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By the time this interview with Italian-born Elia Formisano, extraordinary professor of Neural Signal Analysis, takes place, it has been raining for days. We start with the obvious: would he not rather live and work in his home country? But Formisano feels at home in Maastricht, and the reason why becomes clear soon enough. "This is what keeps us here", he laughs, pointing at the 9.4 Tesla scanner – an enormous machine that would not be out of place in a science-fiction movie. In real life, however, this machine helps scientific dreams come true.
Wednesday, 23 October 2013 08:06

Machines with meaning

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Fundamental and applied research, international study programmes and new insights into imaging technology with super advanced MRI scanners – this is Brains Unlimited in a nutshell. Along with a new incubator building and new housing for the research groups of the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, it is home to a first-rate scanning facility. The 9.4 Tesla MRI scanner is only the fourth of its kind worldwide, and opens up unlimited possibilities for researchers and entrepreneurs from all over the world. On 29 October HM The King Willem-Alexander will officially open Brains Unlimited. Maastricht University magazine interviews some of the brains behind the project.

Tuesday, 08 October 2013 10:10

Intellectually disabled, sexually active

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Large prints of 3D drawings of the human body, images of sexual abuse and photos of people masturbating – the sex education materials used for people with intellectual disabilities are neither underpinned by theory nor evaluated in terms of their effectiveness. What’s more, the target group is rarely involved in materials development, and care providers make insufficient use of the available materials. “Yet, sex education – preferably starting from a young age – can play a part in preventing or managing many of the sexual problems experienced by people with intellectual disabilities”, says PhD candidate Dilana Schaafsma.
Thursday, 26 September 2013 07:40

Students make the university greener

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Make Maastricht University a sustainable university: that was the task at the founding of the Green Office.It marked the start of a unique project: a university department that is run entirely by students, and with unprecedented success.Universities from the Netherlands and abroad are knocking on the door of the ‘Bureau’.  On 27 September, the German state of Baden Württemberg will cite the Green Office as an example of ‘best practice’ at a sustainability conference. ‘The commitment is large; it is not just a job.’
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.”
Wednesday, 11 September 2013 07:30

Overweight? Exercise is not the answer

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Valedictory lecture by Klaas Westerterp

Trying to drop a few kilos by heading to the gym or going for a jog twice a week? Forget it. You won’t lose weight from exercising – but you will from eating less. “The problem is overeating to begin with. Once you’re overweight already, the problem is usually irreversible.” This is what Klaas Westerterp, professor of Human Energetics, will have to say in his valedictory lecture ‘Energiebalans in beweging’ on 12 September.
Thursday, 04 July 2013 07:48

“Fortunately, sheep don’t bark”

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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.

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