Scientific research today, for patient care tomorrow
Good patient care in the future demands sound scientific medical research. Research into new techniques and treatments, new medicines and new forms of care. By selecting relevant study themes, offering the very latest research facilities and through the work of leading national and international researchers, the UMCG is a pioneering center for medical research.
Such research is extremely costly. ‘Subsidies, donations and other funding are essential for the continuity of large-scale studies’. For that reason, researchers at the UMCG apply for (and receive) subsidies and donations from government organisations, insurers, research institutions and charitable organisations such as the Dutch Heart Foundation and the KWF Cancer Research Foundation.
Fundamental or patient-centered
Fundamental research is aimed at expanding knowledge. It is not focused on solving a particular problem, but for example testing a theory. The knowledge we acquire through fundamental research is often used in establishing diagnoses and improving treatment methods.Patient-centered research, otherwise known as clinical or applied research, is focused far more directly on patient care. This research goes in search of answers to such questions as: ‘how can a particular operating technique be improved?’, and ‘ which drugs work best for this patient?’. Patient-centered research often searches for a solution to a specific problem, and therefore does not result in improvements or new possibilities in terms of diagnosis, treatment and care.
How can we remain healthy and active as we get older? Why do some people live to a healthy old age, while others face all kinds of difficulties while still young? We have insufficient basic knowledge of ageing processes, and as a consequence lack sufficient clues in identifying illnesses or the treatment or perhaps even prevention thereof. To change this situation, in all our activities, we have decided to focus on what we call Healthy Ageing.
Lifestyle, nutrition, the amount of physical exercise and drug use are factors that influence the development of health. The influence of these factors and how they affect one another is still far from clear. Finding answers to these questions calls for new knowledge. Our scientists are hard at work finding those answers.
Numerous different studies supply us small and sometimes larger pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that together will help us solve the mystery of healthy ageing. At the UMCG, a whole series of long-term population studies are underway, which (will eventually) involve hundreds of thousands of people. Data and physical material from all those people are being anonymously collected in biobanks. This may include blood and urine samples collected for laboratory examinations, height, weight, blood pressure, heart and lung function measurements, and details of the personal medical history or eating and exercise habits of these individuals. With all this data, it is possible to undertake scientific research into human health, the occurrence of diseases and the best means of treating or preferably preventing disease from occurring at all.
Good medical research calls for good quality researchers. Our doctors, nurses and paramedical staff, including physical therapists, all carry out scientific research, alongside their work with patients. The UMCG also houses numerous researchers who spend all their time in laboratories, without ever seeing patients. This fertile interaction between hospital and science makes the UMCG a challenging research environment, and the best possible address for the best possible care. Ultramodern research facilities attract scientists from the Netherlands and beyond, and practically all research at the UMCG is undertaken within national and international collaborative ventures. As coordinators for a large number of international studies, researchers at the UMCG are often able to bring together the leading specialists in their field. Their results are reproduced in numerous publications in leading international scientific journals. It is therefore no real surprise that year on year, the level of research subsidies received by the UMCG continues to rise, considerably.
The UMCG attracts leading researchers with national and international reputations to carry out their study here in Groningen. There is however always also room for talented young scientists. Selected promising students of Medicine and Dentistry from all over the world are offered the opportunity to follow a challenging academic career via the Honors Project of the Junior Scientific Master Class (JSM). Via the JSM program, students are trained simultaneously as doctors and researchers.