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?
“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: