6 December 2018

This week, the Radboud Institutes for Health Sciences and Molecular Life Sciences were assessed by an external review committee as part of the Standard Evaluation Protocol (SEP), the system used by Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), and the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) to assess the standard of scientific research. The committee noted the appreciably high quality and impact of the research done at Radboudumc. However, there are areas for improvement. For example, there are few women in the top tier of science and more energy can be spent on recruiting international scientists. The committee’s final assessment will follow at the end of February 2019.

On 3 and 4 December, a 17-person evaluation committee of international, renowned scientists visited the Radboud Institutes for Health Sciences and Molecular Life Sciences. They took a critical look at the research themes and scientific results during the period from 2012 to 2017.We found the visit to be fascinating and informative. The interim results were presented at the end of the visit by the president of the committee, André Knottnerus, professor of Family Medicine and former president of the Scientific Council for Government Policy. “We found the visit to be fascinating and informative. We are impressed by the research facilities, the results and their impact, and the research groups that can compete with the best in the world. We also truly appreciate the openness of the researchers, who were not afraid to tell us not only what is going well, but also what needs improvement and what is cause for concern.”
According to the committee, other strong points are the excellent PhD program, the working climate within Radboudumc, and the patient focus of some of the research themes. The committee indicated that they have confidence in the future because of the leadership within the institutes and Radboudumc management, the design of the research within themes, and the combination of the molecular and population perspectives.

Points requiring attention

Naturally, the committee also indicates a few points requiring attention, such as in the area of diversity. “We don’t see enough women in the top tier of science,” says Knottnerus. “And more energy can be spent on the recruitment of international scientists: promote your quality and work environment even further.” The committee recommends that (young) scientists be more involved in policy decisions. “You are person-centered in your strategy; now make your policy formation researcher-centered.”

There are a few points for improvement in the PhD program too, according to the committee, particularly in relation to general supervisors and PhD supervisors. Additionally, the committee recommends building even more bridges between science and patient care and to establish an external advisory committee for scientific research.

“We are grateful for the committee’s constructive feedback and will take it to heart. Although this type of evaluation costs a lot of energy and can sometimes look very bureaucratic, it really helps us reflect on what we are doing, and that is very valuable,” says Rector Magnificus Han van Krieken in his initial reaction to the assessments.

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