Jeroen Geurts


Jeroen J.G. Geurts, PhD, is professor of translational neuroscience and heads the dept. of Anatomy & Neurosciences at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam. He obtained a cum laude PhD in 2005 for his research on grey matter abnormalities in multiple sclerosis (MS). His field of expertise is clinical and translational neuroscience, with an emphasis on post mortem imaging. Within this field, he focuses on MS and primary neurodegenerative diseases. Geurts' debut in popularized science was "Over de kop: fascinerende vragen over het brein" (Scriptum Publishers 2007), a book about brain function and dysfunction, in cooperation with Victor Spoormaker, Dick Swaab and Wim van de Grind. His second book "Kopstukken: gesprekken met bekende wetenschappers over hersenen en bewustzijn" was published in 2009. He is director of Stichting Brein in Beeld, a foundation that promotes science valorisation and societal debate, and he commented regularly on neuroscience on Radio 1 and 3FM. He was elected a member of the Young Academy of the Royal Netherlands Institute for the Arts & Sciences in 2012 and became chair in 2013. Since 2017, Jeroen became Board Chair of ZonMw and Member of the Board of Directors of NWO.

The importance of research infrastructures from a funder’s perspective

If we really want to make progress in research, support of Research Infrastructures (RIs) is essential. Some science disciplines show excellent focus and prioritise investments accordingly. However, for health sciences the situation is more complex. There is a huge diversity of research practices and, as such, a huge diversity in the type of RI that is required.

The accessibility of RIs is not always easy. From a researcher’s perspective, it is sometimes quite difficult to scan the landscape. What is the best RI for my needs? Where and how can I access this RI? Who is going to pay the bill? From the perspective of the RIs it might also be difficult to convince researchers to use them. Researchers, for instance, seem to prefer to collect their own data instead of collecting them from an RI.

Sustainability of RIs is another issue. Most RIs start with content driven professionals who really see the advantage of joining forces in the development of an RI. But are these the same professionals who will be able to build a sustainable business model?

In my contribution I will focus on the role as a research funder in this complex field.