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 meet Professor Annemie Schols, Professor of Nutrition and Metabolism in chronic diseases and Scientific Director of NUTRIM School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism of Maastricht University.
1. Why did you choose your specialism?
I was a passionate tennis player and bicyclist and I developed a fascination for nutrition and top sports. Now, as a scientist I contribute to developing a personalised approach, including nutrition, to stop sarcopenia and cachexia – involuntary loss of body mass and muscles – in oncology patients or patients with chronic diseases such as COPD . We have scientifically proven that loss of muscle mass and function negatively influences a patient’s quality of life and obstruct the optimal medical treatment of their condition.
2. Which conference have you managed to acquire for the Maastricht Region?
The 11th Congress of the Society of Sarcopenia, Cachexia and Wasting Disorders.
3. Which were the competitive cities and what was the decisive reason to choose for Maastricht?
Two years ago, we were personally invited by the Congress association to organise this edition in Maastricht. Not only because the Congress theme falls perfectly within an important research focus of me as a scientist, but also within the focus of the research school NUTRIM. Additionally, they were looking for a new concept for the Congress, which we considered a good challenge. We have organised 4 workshops on the first conference day with research centres from the Brightlands Health Campus Maastricht and CIRO institute in Horn. We have also been able to connect “Art and Science” in an amazing cooperation between the Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg (SRAL) and Gemeente Maastricht.
“Restoration” connects perfectly with the conference theme, which focuses on the maintenance and recovery of muscle mass due to aging and disease. It is the common thread that offers the opportunity to position Maastricht as a Cultural City. We are honoured that, based on our efforts, the SCWD society has entered into an official partnership with NUTRIM, which gave us a lot of freedom designing the congress and reflects positively on NUTRIMs positioning and our University’s reputation.
4. In your opinion, what is the development perspective for the region?
There is a lot of perspective for international conferences, where we can offer our guests the distinguishing “Maastricht experience”. The city has a wealth of ingredients to offer a fine menu of interaction between city, university, hospital, cultural institutions, hotels and restaurants and our business partners. Something that also fits beautifully within the Brightlands concept. Participants of the congress are top scientists, key opinion leaders and companies and will be joining us from 50 different countries all over the world. I am confident that a successful 11th edition of the conference in Maastricht will lead to multiple new cooperations between knowledge institutes and businesses.
5. What does the Maastricht Convention Bureau mean to you?
We have experienced a very pleasant collaboration. The Convention Bureau has made valuable suggestions for the social programme. Their suggestions all made it into our schedule. They were very helpful in realising our additional wishes and have provided brochures about the city for all our guests.