102nd Dies Natalis: global health

Erasmus University Rotterdam honoured two prominent American scientists during the 102nd Dies Natalis on Monday 9 November 2015. Paul Gertler and John Ioannidis received honorary doctorates during the academic ceremony, the theme of which was global health. Rector Magnificus Huibert Pols also presented the Athena Award to Maria Grever.

This Dies Natalis focused attention on Erasmus MC, the institute of Health Policy & Management, and the International Institute of Social Studies. Erasmus University bestowed honorary doctorates on two American professors on the occasion of its 102nd anniversary.

Interest of good science
Paul Gertler (University of California) is an influential development and healthcare economist. He received the honorary doctorate owing to the major social significance of his research into the economic evaluation of the impact of healthcare funding. In his speech entitled ‘There and Back Again: An Evaluator's Tale’, he pointed out the importance of accepting good science. “That can make the world a much better place, if only we and policy makers would let it.”

In his laudatory speech, honorary supervisor Prof Eddy van Doorslaer (iBMG) referred to Gertler as a very accomplished scholar, a scholar who not just publishes, but one who also wants to have an impact in practice. “Paul is a believer in the notion that better and more policy-relevant evidence will make health and development policies more effective and that it will help improve people’s health and lives.”

Replicating research
John Ioannidis (Stanford School of Medicine) received his honorary doctorate for the international orientation of his pioneering research and his broad approach to research in general. He accepted the honorary doctorate with his speech entitled ‘Boring discoveries, innovative replications’, in which he questioned so-called ‘major discoveries’ in the biomedical sciences. “If all major discoveries that were promised claimed over time were realized, we should probably have become immortal long ago.” He emphasised the importance of the replication of research results.

According to honorary supervisor Prof Myriam Hunink (Erasmus MC), Ioannidis is a productive, widely cited scientist with broad interests. “Ioannidis has been referred to as “one of the most influential scientists alive”. Peers consider him “an intellectual in the tradition of the Greek philosophers”.”

Bridging Ambitions
The chair of the Executive Board of Erasmus MC, Prof Ernst Kuipers, used his Dies speech entitled ‘Bridging Ambitions Building Excellence: 50 years of health, research and education’ to focus on the various bridges to and from Erasmus MC. The Dies served to kick off the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Erasmus MC. Kuipers also drew attention to the three ‘success factors’ of his institution: forging knowledge, a vast hinterland, and collaboration with universities, especially with Erasmus University, of course. But there are also challenges, Kuipers added. A university medical centre must be geared towards more international students, research funding is under pressure, and patients must receive even better care.

In her final Dies Natalis, president of the Executive Board Pauline van der Meer Mohr spoke about the importance of global health. “It only takes one ebola outbreak to see how global health is a challenge in an ever more connected world.”

Rector Magnificus Prof Huibert Pols concluded the afternoon with the presentation of the Athena Award to Prof Maria Grever as the employee who makes exceptional efforts to promote female talent. With the presentation of this award, the university seeks to stimulate female talent. Pols pointed to the importance of diversity. “Diversity is not just something that is ‘nice to have’, but rather, a ‘must have’: a prerequisite for a healthy academic ecosystem.”

Speeches, photos and videos on this site.

More information

Press Office Erasmus University Rotterdam, +31 10 4081216 or press@eur.nl

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