The Dutch made impressive contributions to the world’s medical science: Hans and Zacharias Jansen invented the microscope around 1590, Dutchman Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (1632 – 1723) is known as ‘the Father of Microbiology’, biologist Jan Swammerdam was the first, in 1658, to observe and describe red blood cells, Willem Einthoven won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1924 for his invention of the electrocardiogram and Willem Kolff, who is regarded as one of the most important physicians of the twentieth century, developed and applied the first functioning artificial kidney in 1943, and was involved in many breakthrough developments, such as the first heart-lung machine and an artificial heart.
Today, the Netherlands remains a major player in the global Life Sciences Health industries, with a strong technological position in molecular imaging, medical informatics, biopharmaceuticals, human and veterinary vaccines, regenerative medicine and biomaterials (biomaterial coatings in medical devices), medical technology and health infrastructure. The Dutch sector owes this position to collaboration, cooperation and coalition building between businesses, research institutes and universities, supported by government, linking research to product and business creation.
Life Sciences Health belongs to the nine priority sectors identified by the Dutch Government. The country also boasts a national genomics programme and three large public-private programs on Pharmacotherapy, Translational Molecular Medicine and Regenerative Medicine. In these programs (worth over € 1 billion), large industries and SMEs collaborate with all the eight medical faculties – including the academic hospitals and the medical technology faculties of the three Technical Universities – on R&D projects close to the clinical practice. These programs will end in the years 2012 and 2013, but new initiatives have already been started up.
Key aspects and strengths
From: NL EVD International information