Maastricht Convention Bureau

A word from the expert

A word from the Expert: Prof. dr. Luc Zimmermann

Welcome to our feature A word from the expert. In this feature, we introduce someone who has organized a conference in our region or will do so in the future. This month, we introduce with pleasure Prof. Dr. Luc J.I. Zimmermann | Head of the Department of Paediatrics, School for Oncology and Developmental Biology (GROW), Maastricht UMC+.

 

1. Why did you choose your specialism?

“At school I liked exact sciences but was also interested in helping people. Between my choices of physics, engineering and medicine I went for the latter. During medical studies my interest went mainly to physiology and I did not like so much the more ‘one organ oriented’ specialties like ophthalmology, dermatology nor the specialties that had less patient contact like radiology or pathology. On the other hand I liked the more general specialties as internal medicine, surgery and paediatrics. As I also liked to work with children the choice was easy. In paediatrics there are about 15 subspecialties for ex. paediatric cardiology, paediatric oncology, social paediatrics etc…. but again I did not like so much the one organ oriented subspecialties. In neonatology I found the action of intensive care medicine together with the fast developmental aspects and physiological understanding combined with many new and innovating techniques and ethical dilemmas. The field of neonatology moves fast and within the field of paediatrics neonatal research is one of the largest fields. During my neonatal fellowship in Toronto my research interest focussed on the development of the preterm lung, on which I did my PhD and afterwards continued my research.”

 

2. Which conference have you managed to acquire for the Maastricht Region? Which USP’s did you use?

“In the recent past my colleague in obstetrics, Prof. Jan Nijhuis, and I organised 2 conferences in Maastricht: the Fetal and Neonatal Physiology (FNPS) meeting in 2008 and the European Congress of Perinatal Medicine (ECPM) in 2016. The FNPS is a small conference of about 150 participants which makes it very interactive with lots of discussions, the ECPM is a larger more classic conference of about 1500 participants which took place in MECC Maastricht. It was Prof. Jan Nijhuis who succeeded in acquiring both to Maastricht, but as we organised them together I learned a lot.

Charles Beckers, Business Development Manager at MECC Maastricht at the time, stimulated me to also bring the conference of the European Society for Paediatric Research (ESPR) to Maastricht, especially because I am the president of that society. In the meantime our congress has become a bi-annual combined meeting with other societies to the ‘Joined European Neonatal Societies’ (jENS) congress, held first in Budapest in 2015 with 2200 participants and this year (2017) it will be held in Venice. It is by far the largest neonatal conference in Europe and probably worldwide. We succeeded in acquiring it to Maastricht in MECC Maastricht in 2019. The historic and Burgundian, gastronomic character of Maastricht with the known name related to the ‘Treaty of Maastricht’ and the nice conference centre were strong points. It certainly helped a lot that MECC Maastricht and the Maastricht Convention Bureau prepared strong PR material as folders, slide presentations and movies about Maastricht, MECC Maastricht and our proposed conference. The strong role of the Netherlands in neonatal research and within ESPR played also an important role, including my role as president for the last 5 years.

Finally, Prof. Jan Nijhuis and I acquired together the FNPS conference again in 2018, which we will organise at the special occasion of the retirement of Jan.”

 

3. Which were the competitive cities and what was the decisive reason to choose for Maastricht?

“Other well-known conference cities have submitted bids as well. For the ESPR/JENS conference cities as Paris, Lyon, Prague, Lisbon, several German cities including Berlin were considered. Important factors in the decision were the selling points mentioned but also good timing in relation to the rotation through different parts of Europe, the excellent presentations prepared by the Maastricht Convention Bureau and MECC Maastricht and the active involvement of myself and several Dutch neonatologist in the society.

For the FNPS the success the success of the 2008 edition in Maastricht helped a lot as well as the active involvement of obstetrics and neonatology from Maastricht, now and in the past.”

 

4. What important themes will be discussed during the conference?

“The ESPR/JENS conference will shed light on new developments in neonatology from many perspectives such as the researcher, the clinical neonatologist, the nurse, the parents (as also the EFCNI is involved, which is the organisation that represents parents of neonates from all over Europe). New therapies such as stem cell therapy for asphyxia and neonatal lung disease will be discussed next to ethical differences in Europe, family centered care, care in the delivery room for extreme preterm infants, basic research in neonatal problems as severe lung and gut problems, asphyxia, brain damage, etcetera.”

 

5. What does the Maastricht Convention Bureau mean to you?

“The MCB coordinates the actions of many partners in Maastricht around conferences so that great conditions can be offered to congress organisers and participants. The enormous support in making bidbooks and presentations to acquire conferences in Maastricht was mentioned already and cannot be underestimated. I would also like to thank the MCB for their support during site visits and helping with any questions I had. We had great conferences already and I look forward to the FNPS in 2018 and especially to the ESPR/JENS conference in MECC Maastricht in 2019!!”

 

Earlier editions of this feature:

A word from the Expert: Dr. ir. Emile van de Sandt

Welcome to our feature A word from the expert. In this feature, we introduce someone who has organized a conference in our region or will do so in the future. This month, we introduce with pleasure Dr. ir. Emile van de Sandt | Director Research & Development | DSM Sinochem Pharmaceuticals.

 

1. Why did you choose your specialism?

“At school I always liked the more exact subjects. When looking for a study I have chosen Chemical Engineering as in my view it should be great to be involved in the development, design, scale-up, improvement and operations of production processes. Factories, able to convert raw materials into final products, was fascinating me, especially when doing this in a sustainable way and taking care of the environment. I did my master at Delft University, where I also did my PhD. That was also on a subject which was very much related to the environment: the development of a process to convert the harmful CFCs (Chlorofluorcarbons, known from the refrigerators, depleting the ozone layer) into useful chemicals. In 1996 I started working at Gist-brocades, nowadays DSM, where biotechnology and microbes in fermenters are used for producing products. Also this is generally much more environmental friendly when compared to chemical routes. For a long time my specialism is downstream processing, the purification of products from the fermentor and complex mixtures. Since last year I am the R&D director of DSM Sinochem Pharmaceuticals, where we produce antibiotics (lifesaving drugs) and other products like statins (cholesterol lowering medicines) via biotechnology in a sustainable way and continuously are working to do this more efficiently.”

 

2. Which conference have you managed to acquire for the Maastricht Region? Which USP’s did you use?

“As chairman of the Dutch Society of Biotechnology we were able to acquire the European Conference of Biotechnology 2020. Different selling points have convinced the jury such as the strong local organizing committee, the industry involvement, strong academic network, and the role of the Netherlands is building the biobased economy.”

 

3. Which were the competitive cities and what was the decisive reason to choose for Maastricht?

“Other well-known conference cities have submitted a bid as well. Decisive was the excellent facilities of the MECC, the appeal of Maastricht as a vibrant, accessible biotechnology hub with strong academic links, options to visit Brightlands Chemelot Campus and research labs in the Maastricht University Medical Centre and the Maastricht University and finally the enthusiasm and commitment of the Dutch Society of Biotechnology and the Maastricht Convention Bureau to win the bid, as demonstrated during the site visit last November.”

 

4. What important themes will be discussed during the conference?

“New development and scientific highlights will be essential in our conference but also the industrial application of the science in real practice will be clearly present. The different application fields, such as (bio)pharmaceuticals, plant, food, agriculture, biomaterials will all be addressed and the different competences involved such as genetics, fermentation, synthetic biology, bioengineering and bioprocessing. Next to that quite some attention for young persons as they are key for the future of our field.”

 

5. What does the Maastricht Convention Bureau mean to you?

“I really want to thank the MCB for their efforts to make a very professional bid, their connections with the different stakeholders, arrangement of financial support and the organization of the site visit. This were instrumental in winning the bid and we are looking forward to the organize the ECB2020 together with them.”

 

Earlier editions of this feature:

A word from the Expert: Prof dr Erik AL Biessen

Welcome to our feature A word from the expert. In this feature, we introduce someone who has organized a conference in our region or will do so in the future. This month, we introduce with pleasure Prof dr Erik AL Biessen, PhD, Experimental Vascular Pathology group | Department of Pathology | MUMC+ and Institute for Molecular Cardiovascular Research | RWTH Klinikum Aachen.

 

1. Why did you choose your specialism?

Erik Biessen“My career path has followed more of a Brownian movement than a straight line and I have regularly changed my field of expertise. Curiosity led me more than a pre-planned plan. For example, I did a PhD research on a neuroreceptor, within biophysical chemistry. Then I synthesized 2 years of sugar molecules in Leiden (organic chemistry), after which I used these sugar molecules to send drugs to the liver, their target organ (pharmaceutical technology). Since 2000, I have been increasingly focused on cardiovascular research, and more specifically the arteriosclerosis. I have chosen for this field on practical and more ideal grounds. Through a career path program of the Dutch Heart Foundation (Nederlandse Hartstichting), I was given the opportunity to be more engaged in this field and to build a research group around this theme. In addition, this proved to be a very dynamic and challenging field, also through new insights about the role of infection processes in its development. And especially the role of inflammatory processes in breakthroughs. And certainly not insignificant: it is still an extremely relevant disease process, which despite the progress achieved in its diagnosis and treatment/prevention still affects many. It would give me a lot of satisfaction if my research contributes, no matter how small, to improving the prognosis of patients with cardiovascular disease.”

 

2. Which conference have you managed to acquire for the Maastricht Region? Which USP’s did you use?

“Inspired by Charles Beckers’ infectious enthusiasm, we have taken a high bet: attracting the annual conference of the European Atherosclerosis Society (EAS) to Maastricht. With 2,500 visitors and a extended expo, this concerns the largest cardiovascular congress in Europe. As Maastricht selling points, we have used the quality of cardiovascular research in Maastricht and in the broader sense of the Netherlands, the human size (size and intimacy of the city), the culinary atmosphere, hotel offer and quality, and the fact that the MECC was declared number 1 congress venue in the Netherlands in 2016.”

 

3. Which were the competitive cities and what was the decisive reason to choose for Maastricht?

“The competition was solid, with Copenhagen as the most diligent competitor. Copenhagen has devoted considerable attention to its brand awareness and accessibility. I suspect that Maastricht’s compact and historic character, the compactness, quality and flexibility of conference and hotel facilities in Maastricht, but certainly the professionalism of the MECC, Maastricht Convention Bureau with regards to the supply of customized information and advice, and the glossy bidbook. as well as effective feedback to the EAS’s PCO, ultimately were decisive, despite the suboptimal accessibility of Maastricht.”

 

4. What important themes will be discussed during the conference?

“During this biomedical conference, the current state of affairs in the field of clinical and more basic scientific research on cardiovascular disease is presented. Important topics are arteriosclerosis (process of origine, diagnosis and treatment), fat metabolism and infection). With 2,500 visitors, the EAS is a very important stage for knowledge transfer and networking, and for entering into or maintaining collaborations.”

 

5. What does the Maastricht Convention Bureau mean to you?

“The MCB has been crucial for initiating the plan to draw the EAS to Maastricht and convincing the EAS Visiting Committee of the possibilities and qualities of Maastricht and the MECC for organizing a congress of such magnitude. In addition, the MCB has promised its active support for the preparation of and during the course of the EAS conference.”

 

Earlier editions of this feature: