Talent and tech in Amsterdam

With talent and technology found nowhere else, the VU University Medical Center is one of the most important life science clusters in the world. Collaborating with Amsterdam’s wealth of knowledge institutes, doctors at VUmc have their sights locked on to cancer as well as to neurological and cardiovascular diseases. We are getting into closer contact with the guys who are treating patients and together, in a multidisciplinary way, we’re defining what the best treatments for individual patients could be, says Professor Otto Hoekstra.

VUmc’s new PET-MRI scanner means medical staff can better find disease in the body, and better track the effect of medicines or other interventions used to combat it. There are many knowledge institutes in Amsterdam, and the fact that Schiphol is nearby means that when we collaborate with international companies it is much more attractive for them to come and go within a single day,” according to Professor Guus van Dongen.

VUmc, in short

VUmc is a university hospital connected to Amsterdam’s Vrije Universiteit (free university). The university was founded in 1880, but VUmc was created in 2001 by bringing together the faculty of medicine and hospital in one body. The entire VU/VUmc campus covers some 395,000 sqm of south Amsterdam and employs around 8,000 people. The VUmc Imaging Center Amsterdam, due to open in 2016, will bring together VUmc’s existing imaging talents and infrastructure in one building. Recent developments in imaging technology are changing the way medical practitioners tackle disease, making it easier to find tumours and other diseases and track the high precision treatment of them. 

With MRI scanners that map the body and PET scanners that trace the effectiveness of drugs and hunt out illness, leading institutions are effectively able to peer inside us. VUmc has one of the world’s most advanced labs for developing tracers – the contrasting agents that are injected into the body and attach themselves to diseased cells. It also has one of the few MRI PET scanners in the world, and when the full imaging centre opens, will bring together a unique combination of advanced scanners, possibly the world’s best tracer development lab, and leading medical practitioners. The cooperative approach of VUmc Imaging Center sees partnerships with private enterprises such as drugs firm Roche-Genentech and tech provider Philips.

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