News items Dutch-German cooperation in medical research

22 May 2024

Radboud university medical center is starting two studies in close cooperation with several German medical centers across the border. These studies focus on malignant brain tumors and glomus tumors in the head and neck area. The centers will receive funding for this from Interreg Deutschland-Nederland, who support the innovative, green, social and citizen-centred further development of the German-Dutch border region.


The term “gliomas” refers to a collective name used for various malignant brain tumors. Based on guidelines established by the World Health Organization (WHO), gliomas are classified based on molecular characteristics because these features are associated with patients’ survival ranging from 15 months to 7 years. Therefore, early differentiation of different types of gliomas is of great importance. However, previous scientific publications have shown that advanced analysis of radiological imaging, often Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), can characterize the tumor without the need for the patient to undergo a brain biopsy. This non-invasive tumor profiling is achieved using artificial intelligence (AI), which requires a large number of cases to be available. With the help of a multicenter database, resulting from a subproject within the overarching project and continuously supplemented with new cases from the three collaborating centers, these AI software packages can be utilized. However, it is unknown to what extent these costly packages impact the disease progression and patient treatment. This project aims to critically evaluate and standardize the use of AI analyses on MRI data of glioma patients within our collaboration region. Therefore, we collaborate with patients, various clinical doctors, and scientists from diverse backgrounds. By working across borders, we achieve a larger and more diverse dataset of rare diseases. This optimizes the representativeness and generalizability of the results, leading to a better understanding of radiological care for glioma patients at an international level. Additionally, bringing together specialists within the border region will lead to innovative approaches, new insights, and improved methodologies. 

The project IMAGINATION is carried out within the framework of the Interreg VI program Deutschland-Nederland and is co-funded with over €500,000 by the European Union, the MWIKE NRW and the Province of Gelderland. From Radboudumc, Dylan Henssen, Thomas Maal, Guido de Jong and Sebastiaan Bijlsma are involved.


The main goal of this project is to improve healthcare for patients with paragangliomas tumors in the head and neck region. Both the Universitätsklinikum DĂĽsseldorf and Radboudumc in Nijmegen are known as leading centers for the treatment of patients with glomus tumors. Nevertheless, there can be great discrepancy in the treatment method that patients undergo because there are uncertainties about the best treatment strategy. 

Paragangliomas in the head and neck region are tumors that grow around important structures such as nerves and arteries, this makes treatment of these tumors difficult. Even though the tumors are usually benign, patients can experience a lot of discomfort from these tumors. Symptoms and complaints range from headaches, tinnitus, hearing loss, difficulty swallowing to facial paralysis. Given the rarity of this condition, it is crucial to cooperate in the border region and learn from each other’s experiences. The goal is to develop the most effective treatment strategy. To promote this quality improvement, staff exchange will take place between the two clinics. In addition, treatment results will be compared by sharing treatment outcomes in the participating centers. Various meetings will discuss the most desirable treatment. We will also look in detail at the aftercare that patients receive and determine what is most valued by patients in order to optimize aftercare in the border region. This includes the goal of improving patients’ quality of life.

In essence, this project aims to strengthen cooperation between leading medical centers, share knowledge and experience, and develop an optimized treatment and aftercare strategy for patients with paragangliomas, with the ultimate goal of improving their quality of life.

The project GrenszGlo is carried out within the framework of the Interreg VI program Deutschland-Nederland and is co-financed by the European Union, the MWIKE NRW and the Province of Gelderland. From Radboudumc, Dirk Kunst Jolanda Derks, Corinne Delsing and Thijs Jansen are involved.

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Pauline Dekhuijzen

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