Development within the four Profile themes
Development within the four Profile themes
The power of collaboration
VU Amsterdam basis its work on four wonderful profile themes that give substantive direction to education, research and operations. This is how connections are created within the VU community and beyond and how complex and urgent social issues are addressed. We talked to the leads of two profile themes: Richard Jaspers of Human Health and Life Sciences and Philipp Pattberg of Science for Sustainability. Two people who love their work and who, together with all stakeholders, ensure that VU Amsterdam is brought into the limelight based on these profile themes.
Richard Jaspers, Human Health and Life Sciences
We go back in time more than 25 years as we take a short peak of Richard Jaspers’ career, director of the interfaculty research institute Amsterdam Movement Sciences, among others. Muscle length and muscle strength are fascinating topics for Richard; he can talk about them at length, and he never gets tired of it. Questions such as how to promote physical fitness and how the molecular mechanisms of muscle development work are intriguing for the professor of molecular and applied exercise physiology. Richard: "We first went back to the basics with our team, - people and their health - and looked at how we could give substance to VU Amsterdam’s spearheads - diverse, sustainable and entrepreneurial."
"Our team consists of health scientists, behavioural and human movement scientists, clinicians, biologists and physicists. Working from our disciplines, we want to know how genetics, lifestyle, exercise, sports and nutrition affect people; young and old, men and women. It is important for us to know where our profile theme is unique and distinctive and show this both internally and externally. We take a transdisciplinary view of our issues and work with many different research institutes. People are generally getting older and older, and this has an impact on the composition of society. Biking to work and being conscious about nutrition positively affects your health. It would be very interesting if we include the meat-free campus in our programme, for example. Pointing out to people what meat-free living can mean for their health. "
Philipp responds, "That’s inspiring, because although the profile themes are administratively separate, they are actually all related. Take carbon emissions and exposure to certain hazardous substances, for example. You can investigate the effect of these substances on the health of the body, you can look at what that does to nature, but you can also investigate how it is possible that these substances could be emitted in the first place. Health and sustainability are linked. You're really missing something if you only look at issues from one point of view. That connection is of course also there with the other two profile themes Connected World and Governance for Society."
"Health and sustainability are interrelated. You are really missing something if you only look at issues from one point of view."
Philipp Pattberg, Science for Sustainability
Philipp Pattberg is director of the Amsterdam Sustainability Institute, professor of transnational environmental management and policy and head of the Environmental Policy Analysis Department at the Institute of Environmental Studies (IVM). Philipp has a keen interest in climate and biodiversity. "With Science for Sustainability, we have taken many steps and worked on our internal visibility. For example, we organised several lectures and the online and on-campus exhibition A Better World @VU. In that project, together with the VU Association and Ivar Maas of the Sustainability spearhead, we highlighted projects affiliated with the SDGs of scientists, staff and students at VU Amsterdam. We also took a step forward in external visibility. For instance, on 17 October this year, we organised the soft launch of Sapiens. Sapiens is a movement and explores the big issues of our time, and is a partnership between Naturalis, VU Amsterdam and InHolland."
"Besides Sapiens, we are also focusing on two other goals. First, the climate expertise centre will be opened in 2023. This is not a physical place, but a hub where all the research and researchers will come together discussing this topic. We are also focusing on sustainable data centres and are investigating how to make IT sustainable for example. We will look at the possibilities offered by the Cloud as well as all kinds of sustainable energy. We will do this together with for example the Computer Science department and the University of Twente."
Richard: "We are now betting on several things. We support large grant applications aimed at research and implementation of knowledge to keep people healthy and fit for life. We participate in a growth fund proposition aimed at improving early diagnostics so that patients get the right treatment faster. From VU Amsterdam and ACTA, we are also involved in a consortium that focuses on the effects of menopause on physical and mental health and how preventive and therapeutic interventions can contribute to healthy life years. Next year we will contribute to the theme of exercise, nutrition, and physical and mental health during public events at the Boerhaave Museum."
Philipp: "Should we take up an example project together, have two Dream Teams work together? For example, the team from Science for Sustainability 'Planet-friendly food for a sustainable future' and ‘VU ProFit!’ which is linked to Human Health and Life Sciences. It would be really interesting if these two Dream Teams bring their passion and expertise together."