Given the opportunity to trade in Tilburg for Maastricht University (UM), she said ‘yes’ in a heartbeat. “Think on it? What does that mean? Taking a walk in the woods to do some soul-searching? That’s not my style. I make decisions quickly and rarely regret them afterwards. We all like to pretend we make rational, conscious decisions, but we should have faith in our subconscious.”
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.
The clinical potential of non-invasive brain stimulation seems to be almost unlimited. But with few applications having been thoroughly tested, the expectations are too high. Research is now set to begin on the effects of brain stimulation on cognitive rehabilitation after a stroke. The study is a unique collaboration between Teresa Schuhmann of Maastricht University (UM) and Sascha Rasquin from the Adalante-Zorggroep rehabilitation centre. “The interaction between fundamental research and clinical treatment is a win-win situation.”
In 1987 Diana, Princess of Wales, shakes hands with a man with HIV. Click, goes the camera, and the picture is seen all over the world. At the height of the AIDS frenzy, this gesture was a huge statement. How different things are today, with HIV now a chronic rather than a deadly disease in many parts of the world. Nonetheless, people living with HIV continue to be confronted with stigma – a prejudice all of us may be guilty of.
When it comes to developing new technologies, what needs are we creating? According to Harro van Lente, UM professor of Science and Technology Studies, this is a question that needs asking more often. Social issues should be the starting point for innovation. And for the valorisation of innovative research, a good education is essential.
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.”
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."