Monday, April 28, 2008

The 2008 EMGO retreat

Thursday April 24 we had our annual EMGO retreat. The scientific committee of the EMGO Research Institute came up with a wonderful program. In the morning we first discussed the EMGO policy plans to create an interfaculty research institute on health and care research together with the department of Health Sciences ( of the faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, and different departments of the faculty of Psychology and Education ( Then there was a choice of workshops on a variety of topics varying between such extremes as systematic reviews, leading efficient professional meetings, building websites, and salsa dancing.

During the afternoon, the four EMGO research programs first met to discuss strategic priorities. Thereafter, the 2007 EMGO awards were announced, after short, clear and sometimes very funny presentations from the candidates. Tessa van den Kommer received the science award for the best scientific paper by a junior researcher, for her paper on Cholesterol and oxysterols as possible early markers for cognitive decline ( The Societal Impact Award was given to Marian van Bokhorst for her project on identification of under nutrition in hospital settings that received major media attention in the past year.

The day ended with a nice buffet lunch followed by a smashing performance of the 8-head EMGO-band, performing songs from bands and singers as diverse as The Clash, Dandy Warhols, and Amy Winehouse.

But the day started with a good discussion on our plans to merge EMGO with important research groups from the two other faculties into a more inter- en multidisciplinary research institute for health and care research.
In his last book, “Common Wealth: Economics for a crowded planet”, Jeffrey Sachs ( writes: Scientific research proceeds in intellectual silos that make far too little contact with one another; research in the physical sciences, biology, engineering, economics and public health is rarely intertwined, even though we must solve problems of complex systems in which all of these disciplines play a role. The problems just refuse to arrive in the neat categories of academic departments”.
I truly believe that this merger will better prepare EMGO for the future, since health and care research indeed requires input from and collaboration between, amongst others, medical researchers, health scientists, behavioural researchers, economists and paramedical experts, and concentrating such expertise within one institute will facilitate this.