PhD projects

Examples of PhD projects at Erasmus MC

Erasmus MC enables graduates to become an independent researcher able to solve complex questions, based on scientific evidence. Our PhD graduates have the competencies to appraise scientific research and have made important steps towards being biomedical academics.  

Examples of projects supported by the Erasmus MC Graduate School programmes are shown below.

Sleep problems are more common in elderly people with intellectual disabilities

31 May 2022 - Elderly people with intellectual disabilities have more frequent and more severe sleep problems than their healthy peers. Their homes do not have enough daylight for a healthy sleep-wake rhythm. This is evident from the thesis written by Mylène Böhmer from Erasmus MC, which she will defend on 1 June.

Sleep problems are common in elderly people with intellectual disabilities who live in a care institution. 67% of them sleep too little or have difficulty sleeping through the night. Among their healthy peers from the ERGO study, this number is 38%. The sleep problems are also more severe. Elderly people with intellectual disabilities lie awake for about half an hour longer, up to 2.5 hours per night, and sleep 15 minutes less. Researchers can see a relationship between these sleep problems and health problems, in particular mood and behavioral problems.

Read the full story at Amazing Erasmus MC

Blood test should predict whether immunotherapy will work in bladder cancer

30 May 2022 - A blood test can help to predict whether immunotherapy will be effective in patients with metastatic bladder cancer. This is evident from research by internist-oncologist Debbie Robbrecht from the Erasmus MC Cancer Institute.

Immunotherapy with the drug pembrolizumab will only be effective in one in five patients with metastatic bladder cancer. ‘It’s hard to estimate in advance which patient will respond to the therapy. This is inconvenient for patients and costs society a huge amount of money,’ says Robbrecht. For her thesis, she investigated ways to predict which patients with metastatic bladder cancer will respond well to immunotherapy.

Read the full story at Amazing Erasmus MC
Illustration: Monica Hajek. Source: leaflet for the Alzheimer Center Erasmus MC

New multicultural language and memory tests for dementia

29 March 2022 - New language and memory tests enable a more accurate diagnosis of dementia in people with a multicultural background. Neuropsychologist Sanne Franzen developed the tests together with colleagues and describes them in her thesis.

What does a language or memory test say about the result if the person concerned fails to recognize the images in the test simply because they are objects they have never seen before? Doctoral candidate Sanne Franzen asked herself this question when she started working at the Migrant Outpatient Clinic of the Alzheimer Center Erasmus MC in 2015. Not much, she established.


Read the full story at Amazing Erasmus MC
Maarten van Schijndel

‘A medical psychiatry unit helps both the patient and the hospital’

1 December 2022 - The integrated treatment of physical and psychological symptoms helps not only the patient but also the hospital. Argues Psychiatrist Maarten van Schijndel. He recently obtained his doctorate for research into departments in which such combined care is an everyday occurance: medical psychiatry units.

Take the case of someone who does not drink or eat enough as a result of depression and ends up in the hospital with kidney problems. Or someone with an autoimmune disease who gets very confused by their medication. These can be complex situations for care providers in a regular department in the hospital.

‘The hospital mainly focuses on physical care. If this is accompanied by psychological symptoms or behavioral problems, it can make doctors and nurses feel powerless. They do not have enough time or do not know exactly how to deal with depression, suicidal thoughts or confused behavior in their patients,’ explains psychiatrist Maarten van Schijndel.

On 11 November 2020, Van Schijndel obtained his doctorate based on research into a hospital department that admits patients with both physical and psychological symptoms. There are now 40 medical psychiatry units (MPUs) in the Netherlands. Erasmus MC also has such a department, which Van Schijndel helped to set up. He now works at the medical psychiatry unit at the Rijnstate in Arnhem.

Read the full story at Amazing Erasmus MC

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