Faculty of Medicine
The Faculty of Medicine at Utrecht University and UMC Utrecht are closely intertwined and frequently collaborate in the areas of medical and biomedical education and research. This collaboration takes place in the Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Bachelor's programmes, as well as within the Clinical Health Sciences Master's programmes and the Graduate School of Life Sciences. Research at UMC Utrecht is aligned to the strategic themes of Utrecht University, particularly Life Sciences and Dynamics of Youth. A multidisciplinary approach ensures that patients come first and can benefit in their treatment from the latest knowledge and innovative technological solutions. We are contributing to a better world by working together to improve people's health and create tomorrow's care, today.
We are a university medical centre that pursues innovation in service to patients and society. UMC Utrecht links professionals both within and outside UMC Utrecht who interact with patients and citizens in the context of education, research and healthcare. This calls for looking beyond boundaries, a focus on quality and social impact and, above all, people with the knowledge and expertise needed to shape the healthcare of today – and that of tomorrow. These qualities are reflected in the following three core processes of the UMC Utrecht:
- We connect fundamental research and applied research. By doing so, we ensure that fundamental researchers will focus on state-of-the-art technologies that have applications in clinical practice or society. And on the other hand, we also ensure that applied researchers present their fundamental counterparts with effectively formulated questions.
- We apply knowledge locally and then make that knowledge generally applicable at an international level. In other words, we link our local network with our international network. Next, we make this knowledge generally available worldwide in the form of publications, conferences and education.
- We ensure personalised care for every individual patient while at the same time contributing to solutions for social issues. To achieve this personalisation of patient care, we increasingly take the biomedical and other qualities of a given patient into account when choosing a course of treatment. We also do this by getting to know patients as individuals and by considering the meaning they wish to give their lives when deciding on a treatment option.
In 2020, UMC Utrecht established its strategy for the 2020-2025 period in the document ‘Connecting Worlds’. The decisions in the strategies of UMC Utrecht and Utrecht University are seamlessly aligned to one another. Social impact, multidisciplinarity and collaboration are central priorities not only for the university as a whole, but in how we conduct research and deliver education as well.
Our approach is characterised by:
- Multidisciplinarity: Because we believe that pioneering innovations are most likely to be found where areas of knowledge intersect, we are firmly committed to multidisciplinarity in education, research and healthcare. To that end, we actively seek out knowledge areas outside the care sector in order to apply that knowledge in our healthcare.
- Collaboration in networks: We expand our networks in order to conduct frontier research, maintain continuity and achieve innovation in healthcare and to provide even better educational programmes. We pursue innovation together with our partners. We create strong networks at the regional, national and international levels. Because we work in multidisciplinary fashion, we also invest in partnership with parties outside the healthcare sector.
- Focus: We apply focus in order to take decisions. This has previously resulted in the establishment of our priority areas and the care profile. In the coming years, we will further refine our focus by substantively accelerating our efforts with regard to seven themes. To achieve this substantive acceleration, it will be necessary to strengthen the organisation along the seven themes as well. These themes bring together education, research and healthcare. While that interplay is the source of a University Medical Centre's strength, it can also prove complex and challenging at times.
An open and resilient community
Within UMC Utrecht, the organisation of education and research cannot be viewed separately from the organisation of healthcare. The ten divisions of UMC Utrecht bear integral responsibility for education, research and healthcare and the majority of employees are involved in multiple domains.
Strengthening the organisation
To achieve substantive acceleration, it will be necessary to strengthen the organisation along seven themes. The first four reinforcement measures are the most vital in terms of the education and research domains. The last three will contribute primarily to the agility of the organisation and the development of its employees in the general sense.
We wish to continuously learn from patients to gain an understanding of what is necessary and in order to take joint decisions, so that we can respond effectively to the needs and wishes of our patients. We are involving patients in our innovations in education, research and healthcare as well.
We want to be an organisation in which colleagues feel appreciated and heard.
We want to be an organisation in which colleagues feel appreciated and heard and where they experience a sense of ownership and autonomy. We want to be an employer they speak of with pride, because they work in an environment with a visible and recognisable profile that is unique to Utrecht. Where everyone's voice is heard and the leadership is inspiring. Because everyone has their own talents, we facilitate and encourage personal development through extensive opportunities for education and training. And we are investing in talent management, so that employees of UMC Utrecht will enjoy good prospects for further development.
- A talent management programme for researchers and lecturers
- Continued development of the leadership programme, Connecting Leaders
- Providing opportunities for education and training in connection with Professional Education
We want to be an activating partner who unites different worlds and is able to forge rock-solid partnerships, with additional attention for collaboration with parties outside the healthcare sector. We seek out the right parties to collaborate on new solutions in connection with a variety of challenges. We not only deploy our academic expertise and innovative power to support the region, we also use our national and international networks to increase the impact of our innovations.
To that end, we enter into strategic alliances with regard to education, research and healthcare. The alliance between Eindhoven University of Technology, Wageningen University & Research and Utrecht University is a clear example of this. Our collaboration with strategic partners abroad – such as University College London, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the University of Toronto and KU Leuven – will gain new impetus through the internationalisation programme.
Our priority areas and our curriculum integrate different disciplines in order to address scientific and social issues.
In addition to geographical borders, UMC Utrecht also focuses on working across the borders of specific disciplines. Our priority areas and our curriculum integrate different disciplines in order to address scientific and social issues. We explicitly involve patients in these efforts, for instance through the Patient Participation programme.
- Regional collaboration with nearby hospitals and care organisations
- Intensive collaboration within the TU/e, WUR, UU and UMC Utrecht alliance
- International collaboration with strategic partners University College London, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the University of Toronto and KU Leuven
- Cooperation with patients through the Patient Participation programme
Data science and e-health
data, artificial intelligence and digital technology are driving innovation in the field of science. They are making it possible to offer personalised care, both in terms of specific medical interventions and with regard to customised care in the patient's home or nearby. These aspects enable us to provide the right care in the right place.
We are innovating our range of digital care options, so that care which can feasibly be provided at home can actually be offered at home. To achieve this, we are developing e-health applications and ensuring they are suitable for a wide spectrum of uses.
Sustainable and affordable healthcare
the UMC Utrecht is financially sound. To do our part for the realisation of appropriate, affordable and accessible healthcare, we are steering towards the necessary achievements in education, research, healthcare and support at socially-acceptable costs. We are doing this by standardising processes and clarifying responsibilities and authorities, enabling every employee to contribute – based on their own duties – to high quality and affordability in the services delivered.
We are minimising our negative impact on the climate and the environment.
With regard to sustainability, we contribute to healthier patients, employees and students by minimising our negative impact on the climate and the environment. Ways we are working to achieve this include reducing our CO2 emissions; pursuing sustainable real estate, circular operational management, clean water and wastewater and sustainable mobility; and creating a healthy environment.
In addition to enhancing the sustainability of our own healthcare and operations, we want to contribute to knowledge development with regard to increasing sustainability of care processes and the relationship between health and sustainability. We will also be integrating sustainability into our educational curriculum in the years ahead.
In order to be prepared for social issues and to quickly implement innovations in our own clinic and beyond, the UMC Utrecht organisation must be able to rapidly adapt to changing circumstances. We have invested heavily in this area over the recent period. The chosen management philosophy will need to be further refined and implemented if we are to retain sufficient clout and agility.
Our ‘Together for the Patient’ procedure is vital to that end. In this context, we also continue to build on the other programmes from the UMC Utrecht's strategy for 2015-2020, Connecting U. We work according to the principles of integral risk management, so that we can innovate quickly and safely.
We work according to the principles of integral risk management, so that we can innovate quickly and safely.
We are enhancing our focus on results by applying this strategy to the daily practice of all teams and employees. We encourage an open and appreciative culture by continually developing our leadership and by working in multidisciplinary teams with shared responsibility, in which everyone's voice is heard.
An ambition document for the spatial planning of our area has been drafted in cooperation with the partners at Utrecht Science Park, the province and the city. On the north side of the area, we will focus on improving the accessibility and facilities for our patients; we will create a Health Campus at this location. In cooperation with knowledge partners at Utrecht Science Park, we are working to achieve a largely traffic-free area on the south side of the Science Park, in which we will more strongly connect the education and research functions with one another and with new partners. In our efforts to realise both this goal and the necessary technical and functional adjustments, we are facing a broad renovation task that also offers us an opportunity to modify the infrastructure of our buildings and facilities in accordance with the ambitions set out in our strategy. We expect it will take us some ten years to achieve this drastic overhaul.
In recent years, the Faculty of Medicine has invested in educational innovation and the revision of our degree programmes in order to effectively prepare our students for the healthcare of the future. We intend to continue this strategy, known as ‘Fit for the Future’. We will devote additional attention to interprofessional learning and multidisciplinary education. We call this initiative the New Utrecht School.
Students will be prompted to take responsibility for themselves, the patient, the organisation and society.
The New Utrecht School
The realisation of the New Utrecht School has been defined as one of the substantive accelerators in Connecting Worlds. The New Utrecht School strives to see its students excel in a combination of knowledge and skills and to train them to prioritise the patient's perspective, to think critically and creatively and to be active participants in the societal debate. Students will also be prompted to take responsibility for themselves, the patient, the organisation and society.
We want to equip our students, future professionals, with the best possible tools for solving the social and scientific problems of tomorrow. To that end, we place a high premium on our multidisciplinary and interprofessional education and on an inclusive and diverse learning environment. We also pursue innovation in the SUMMA, the broad Bachelor of Clinical Sciences (together with the Faculties of Science and Veterinary Medicine), the Master's programme in Medical Humanities (together with the Faculty of Humanities), an international Master's in Translational Medicine and The New Utrecht School for Advanced Study. Multidisciplinary collaboration between the faculties and with collaborative partners – such as the universities of applied sciences and arts in Utrecht (HU and HKU), Eindhoven University of Technology and Wageningen University & Research – is vital in this context.
In the coming years, we plan to maintain our dedication to and efforts to innovate along other themes as well:
- Teaching careers: We want to give lecturers the appreciation they deserve and offer them career opportunities for the core task of education. We have already achieved much in this area in the past few years, and we intend to maintain that strong effort.
- Professional Education: At UMC Utrecht, we are continuously integrating the results of current research with their social applications in professional practice to create appealing and currently relevant educational programmes.
- Internationalisation: We want to encourage students to take part in international activities and to reflect on those experiences. In addition, we want to entice employees to broaden their personal horizons and incorporate an international perspective in their day-to-day work.
- Resilience: We want to offer students support in areas that are in our power as a programme to influence – i.e. monitoring study workload and providing help and resources.
- Teaching science: We want to increase our students’ exposure to current scientific research, including multidisciplinary research, from bench to bedside to society. We teach students about research and give them opportunities to gain experience by conducting research themselves.
The UMC Utrecht has six priority areas for research: Circulatory Health, Brain, Infection & Immunity, Cancer, Child Health and Regenerative Medicine. Six accelerators for research and innovation in healthcare have been defined for the 2020-2025 period. These substantive accelerators are closely related to the six priority areas and the university's strategic themes of Life Sciences and Dynamics of Youth. These accelerators, and Open Science, continue to build on the strong reputation of our research and are aligned to the major societal challenges facing academic healthcare.
Six accelerators for research and innovation in healthcare have been defined for the 2020-2025 period.
Healthy living (Gezond door het leven) focuses on the wishes and needs of the individual, with a particular emphasis on individualisation of the processes to diagnose, predict, treat and prevent disease, and on promoting individual health. A central element of our approach is the data facility (U-Cloud) where we enrich our own data on the patient's life history with data from regional partners, and which we can link to a multitude of other data sources as well. Important partners in this ambition are municipalities, provinces, care providers, healthcare insurers, the Dutch Healthcare Authority (NZa), private parties and, most importantly, citizens themselves.
In Image-guided Interventions, non-invasive or minimally invasive therapies are inextricably linked to image-guided technologies (surgery without cutting). Optical and X-ray but especially MRI-guided interventions will take on an increasingly prominent role in the fields of Cancer, Circulatory Health, Brain and Regenerative Medicine. Their advantage lies in the ability to make more precise, real-time adjustments to the treatment plan and in the synthesis between diagnosis, treatment and response monitoring. With the introduction of the MR-Linac (a UMC Utrecht innovation), for instance, tumours can be irradiated with far greater precision than before, with less collateral damage to healthy tissue. Our goal is that, by 2025, image-guided interventions become the standard for more effective, better and less costly treatment of a wide range of pathologies. Our partners in this ambition include industrial parties such as Philips, Electa and Sectra and other national and international partners like Princess Máxima Centre, MD Anderson, St Jude, Eindhoven University of Technology and the Life Sciences divisions at Utrecht University.
Biofabrication & disease modelling
Biofabrication & disease modelling deals with the underlying disease mechanisms of chronic illnesses such as disorders of the musculoskeletal, cardiac or circulatory system, or neurological or kidney disorders. Our goal is, by gaining an understanding of these mechanisms, to arrive at regenerative and other treatment strategies that promote the body's own ability to recover through a combination of technology and biology. Important partners in these efforts are the Hubrecht Institute, the Princess Máxima Centre, Eindhoven University of Technology, Wageningen University & Research and the partners in the RegMed research consortium and the Research Center for Material-Driven Regeneration (MDR).
Molecular science & therapy
Molecular science & therapy develops more targeted therapies for diseases by gaining a better understanding of those illnesses at the molecular and cellular level. Currently, the same treatment strategy is often applied for illnesses that resemble one another but that are actually quite different at the molecular level. Using fundamental research, we create innovative disease models and advanced measuring techniques in combination with Artificial Intelligence (AI). We then apply these tools in order to gain insights into risk factors, biomarkers and new interventions. Our partnerships with industrial parties, the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI), the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), the Hubrecht Institute, European research parties and other Dutch parties are of vital importance in this regard.
Acute complex care
As a trauma centre, and through the Major Incident Hospital we manage together with the Central Military Hospital, UMC Utrecht holds a unique position in terms of large-scale reception of ill and wounded persons. To accelerate in this area, we strive to ensure our acute complex care includes state-of-the-art emergency assistance, surgical facilities and intensive care.
Complex integral care for children
With the Wilhelmina Children's Hospital and its partnership with the Princess Máxima Centre, UMC Utrecht is focusing on complex integral care for children. This integrality makes it possible to demystify and treat complex conditions such as perinatal damage, congenital illnesses, cardiac disease, serious inflammatory disorders and the after-effects of cancer treatments. It also helps us improve preventative care. Our ambitions call for strong collaboration between fundamental and applied researchers and for interaction with the social environment in which children grow and develop.
In the coming years, we will maintain our dedication to and efforts to innovate Open Science. Observations in the research domain have led to the Open Science movement and were also the impetus behind Science in Transition, which was launched several years ago, partly in UMC Utrecht. The search for a new balance between ‘science for science's sake’ and ‘science for society’ has had a major impact on the education and research at UMC Utrecht. While the recent evaluation according to the VSNU's Standard Evaluation Protocol (SEP) has confirmed this vanguard position, it also yielded recommendations for the next phase.
The new system of appreciation and reward will act as the starting point for our yet-to-be-established talent management programme; young employees will be given tools for charting their own careers, taking Open Science principles regarding quality and impact into account.
We will maintain our dedication to and efforts to innovate Open Science.
Data sharing is an important component of Open Science. Certainly in the case of medical data, this requires a careful procedure and infrastructure for the collection, archiving and reuse of data. Another significant aspect of Open Science for medical and biomedical research is the concept of involving users in designing and conducting a study. To that end, we will continue the Patient Participation programme as a means to provide researchers with a framework for involving patients and other stakeholders in their research.
- The new system of appreciation and reward will act as the starting point for our talent management programme
- Further implementation of Open Science principles in the area of data management
- Continuation of the Patient Participation programme