With broad scientific enthusiasm and the administrative will to reinvent the future of health care

The Health & Technology Convergence has wide-ranging goals. With this strategy, we want to define the future of health care together. This is a challenge rooted in the vision of the three institutions. It will result in focused activities based on collaboration. For example in stroke-related care. We look at the entire process: from the initial call for an ambulance to reintegration, sometimes years later. To optimise all that, you need many different kinds of knowledge: clinical, technological and societal. So that idea of a broad approach comes back here.

The idea of solving major societal problems in this transdisciplinary way is not unique, by the way. It is happening in other places around the world. The real challenge is to deliver. It is always difficult for people to step outside the world they know, particularly professionally. Both the medical and academic worlds have their own cultures, their closed domains. Breaking through those barriers requires a vision and a long-term strategy. There is a considerable enthusiasm, both bottom-up and top-down, about making this happen. And in that respect, we are actually leading the world.”

“There is a considerable enthusiasm, both bottom-up and top-down, about making this happen. And in that respect, we are actually leading the world”

Prof. Dr. W.J. (Wiro) Niessen
Professor and Principal Investigator of the Biomedical Imaging Group Rotterdam (BIGR), Principal Investigator of Quantitative Imaging Biomarkers & Imaging Genetics

We have now funded Flagship projects where the right people have been brought together very successfully. All those people know each other now, and they know how they can help each other. Mostly in research as yet, but the Convergence philosophy also includes education. That requires a new type of teacher, and a new type of student. Ultimately, I would like to see both students and researchers thinking of themselves as members of all three institutions, and to see them getting the opportunity to develop as broadly as possible in that context. Then you get flexible teams, with a range of experts who have a broad approach and who can think effectively about different challenges facing society.”

If students or researchers work together physically more, and meet each other during their work, new ideas will emerge more easily. And if you do that in an environment where concrete problems of this kind actually play a role, smart solutions surface very quickly. Otherwise, you get situations where people come up with solutions that are not even recognised as such because the people involved do not understand each other. We are already seeing how our students and staff are getting to know more and more people at the three institutions. That is a very important development!