UMC Utrecht works on innovation in healthcare, research and education together with strategic partners worldwide.
In 2021 UMC Utrecht established the ECRAID foundation with an international supervisory board, which kicked off officially on 1 January 2022. ECRAID (European Clinical Research Alliance on Infectious Diseases) is a European academic network that aims to improve the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases through clinical research. It is the first network in the world that combines clinical research on (emerging) infectious diseases and resistance to antibiotics. UMC Utrecht coordinates the activities of ECRAID. This new international cooperation makes it possible to react faster to (emerging) infectious diseases that constitute a danger for public health.
European Reference Networks
Rare diseases often require multi-specialist care and multidisciplinary involvement. By connecting internal and external worlds, UMC Utrecht has extensive inhouse expertise on rare and uncommon complex diseases. By order of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, NFU has set up a procedure to recognize this expertise, based on criteria defined at European level. VSOP (an umbrella organization for patients with a rare genetic disease) and Orphanet NL (a portal website for rare diseases and orphan drugs) are involved in this. In the assessment process, both referants from the field and from patient organizations are included. UMC Utrecht has 34 recognized Expertise centers for rare diseases (ECZA).
These centers can join European Reference Networks (ERNs) that are set up for and by healthcare professionals in Europe and by order of the European Commission. In these ERNs, experts from all over Europe pool knowledge, expertise and resources on specific rare diseases. In this way, a rare and often complex disease can be identified faster, and the treatment of patients with a rare disease can be improved. This benefits the patient’s quality of life. Due to the small number of patients, it is very important for instance to be able to do qualitative research. By joining an ERN, we can simplify access to diagnosis and treatment. UMC Utrecht has joined 17 of the 24 ERNs.
International strategic network for healthcare, research and education programs
To improve the quality and impact of healthcare, research and education, we collaborate with Utrecht University in a strategy network with KU Leuven, University College London, the University of Toronto, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong on inter-university healthcare, research and education programs. In 2021 for example a dual PhD program with KU Leuven was launched. In this program, we make use of each other’s knowledge and expertise, and PhD students do research both at UMC Utrecht and at KU Leuven and receive a degree from Utrecht University as well as KU Leuven.
Eureka Institute for Translational Medicine
UMC Utrecht is a co-founder and partner of the Eureka Institute for Translational Medicine , which aims to provide education and networking for translational scientists. Due to COVID-19, no courses could be conducted on site in 2021. Instead, three international digital courses were developed and dispensed. These were highly appreciated by the participants. Some new partners have also joined the Eureka Institute, namely: Drexel University, Cancer Research UK, and the National Federation for Emergency Medicine. Other partners in the Eureka Institute are: UMC Utrecht, Duke/NUS, Stanford, Toronto, Miami, Arizona, and United Emirates.
We collaborated with four Indonesian universities to improve healthcare research and education
CHARM-EU European University alliance
Together with the universities of Barcelona, Budapest, Montpelier and Dublin, UMC Utrecht and Utrecht University collaborate in the CHARM-EU alliance , an innovative challenge-based university model aimed at training professionals who in the future can make a contribution to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. At the moment, an accredited 90EC Master’s is under way that consists of three phases. A compulsory, joint part, a flexible part where the student chooses one of three topics - Food, Water of Life, and Health - and a capstone part where students work in teams on an authentic sustainability challenge. Teaching takes place in an international classroom, where online and physical teaching alternates in various locations, and where students also get the chance to switch physically between the five campuses. In the flexible phase of the Health Challenges & Solutions course, a network of Research Hubs was developed of which UMC Utrecht also forms an active part. One of the deliverables is in fact a step-by-step guide for designing courses within UMC Utrecht.
UMC Utrecht actively contributes to Global Health, and in 2021 further strengthened this cooperation with a number of low- and middle-income countries. We collaborated for instance with four Indonesian universities to improve healthcare research and education. The Health Indonesia project was completed in 2021, after three years. It has helped to increase the quality and impact of research and education, and will contribute in the long term to better local care. Other Global Health partners of UMC Utrecht are: the University of Ghana and the Anton de Kom University in Suriname.