Maastricht Convention Bureau

A word from the expert

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: