Mission and Strategy
We are committed to achieving a healthy population and pursuing excellence in healthcare through research and teaching.
Societal challenges: starting point for choices
Urgent health challenges
A healthy life course
Accessibility of healthcare
Emerging environmental challenges
Strategic choices for research socially determined
Erasmus MC's strategic goals for Scientific Research
1. Erasmus MC will develop innovative strategies to promote health by preventing disease, disease progression, and the effects of disease
For many years, Erasmus MC has been part of a strong regional, national, and international network in research, clinical practice, and policy in the broad field of health. Our collaboration with GGD Rotterdam-Rijnmond – the regional public health service – is excellent, as is our cooperation with general practitioners for primary healthcare in the region. Our current research has a clear focus on early diagnosis, screening programs, and population studies. In addition, we have extensive experience with early treatment and preventive lifestyle interventions. In our research on improved treatment strategies (fueled in part by fundamental research), we are strongly committed to finding predictive factors, preventing disease progression, and preventing and reducing the effects of disease as much as possible.
- 1.1 Develop new biomarkers and use multimodal data in individualized risk and prediction models for the early detection of disease and/or disease progression, and to evaluate the effects of treatment.
- 1.2 Develop strategies for early treatment and lifestyle interventions for common diseases.
- 1.3 Improve clinical pathways to reduce or prevent the effects of disease in vulnerable, multimorbid patients (including patients with chronic and/or rare conditions), based on a shared responsibility of care provider and patient.
2. Erasmus MC will identify the mechanisms associated with a healthy life course and with the incidence of disease, and applies this knowledge in the development of new interventions
Within Erasmus MC, there are close contacts between fundamental and clinical researchers. Our translational research accelerates the implementation of cures and other effective interventions. Erasmus MC is committed to this work, whether it concerns common diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and Alzheimer’s disease, or rare diseases. And whether it involves threats related to infections or heat-related disorders or other specific diseases or health problems. We excel in fundamental and clinical research and have state-of-the-art technologies, including facilities for working with in vitro and in vivo models. We have access to many patients, including patients with complex health condition, as well as a large-scale infrastructure that enables us to conduct population research. To this end, we work with relevant cohorts from preconception to high age. These cohorts are monitored for longer periods of time. All this enables us to be distinctive in our research from the molecular level to the population level.
- 2.1 Investigate and identify factors that influence health from preconception through to the end of life, more specifically: research on genomics and (epi)genomics, microbiomes, metabolism, immune systems, and on societal, environmental, and behavioral factors.
- 2.2 Generate new insights into the mechanisms of a healthy life course and disease through translational research, in which we combine multimodal data from population studies and cohorts, such as imaging, genomics, proteomics, diagnostic and clinical data, with functional studies.
- 2.3 Develop and use in silico and in vitro models of human diseases and innovative analysis technologies to identify molecular and cellular mechanisms in the onset and progression of diseases, so that we can develop innovative (personalized) interventions.
3. Erasmus MC will lead the development of strategies for dealing with emerging health threats
Our focus on early diagnosis, screening programs, and population studies enables us to respond rapidly to developments in conditions that may affect large groups of people, including emerging health threats associated with climate change, environmental issues, globalization, and lifestyle trends. As a result, we have considerable expertise in the field of diseases with a major impact on both individuals and society as a whole, including the areas of infectious diseases and pandemic preparedness.
- 3.1 Investigate molecular and socio-demographic factors that determine individually different responses to the agent of an emerging threatening disease.
- 3.2 Design and evaluate effective prevention, mitigation, and adaptation measures to counteract health effects of emerging threats due to infections, climate change, and lifestyle, particularly among vulnerable people.
- 3.3 Optimize diagnostics and develop preventive measures and the best possible treatments in order to enhance the prevention, early identification, and mitigation of the impact of endemics, epidemics, and pandemics.
4. Erasmus MC will develop innovative methods and technologies that contribute to tailored healthcare, including accessibility and sustainable healthcare
We excel in research into more effective and efficient use of diagnostics and treatment, including expensive drugs, and alternative treatment strategies. As a partner in the Medical Delta and Convergence Alliance, we are at the forefront of medical and technological developments related to sustainable healthcare. We view sustainability in the broadest sense of the term: we are not only concerned about sustainability and accessibility of care, but also about our environment and climate, about conducting research in an environmentally friendly manner, and the sustainable employability of professionals. We aspire to lead the way in research on transferring care to people’s homes by applying new technologies and focusing on self-management.
- 4.1 Investigate the effects of genetic, molecular, and socio-demographic factors on the accessibility of healthcare, effectiveness of diagnostics, and the results of interventions.
- 4.2 Develop digital and other technological support (e.g. e-health, artificial intelligence and/or robotics) to achieve the best possible individual healthcare in the hospital and at home, as well as for the sustainable employment of staff and resources for affordable healthcare.
- 4.3 Explore opportunities for reducing the cost of medical treatments and enhancing sustainability, such as looking for alternatives to expensive treatments, the appropriate use of expensive treatments, drug repurposing, and avoiding ineffective care.
- 4.4 Develop methods and models that include the ecological footprint when making medical decisions.
Erasmus MC’s starting positionIn implementing our research strategy, we have a solid starting position to build on. In 2002 Erasmus MC was founded as a university medical center through a merger of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of Erasmus University Rotterdam and three university hospitals: the largest general hospital in the Netherlands at the time (Dijkzigt Hospital), the country’s largest children’s hospital (Sophia Children’s Hospital), and one of the two specialized cancer hospitals in the Netherlands (Daniel den Hoed Clinic). The merger made Erasmus MC a strong and broadly oriented player in academic medical science. The close collaboration between research and clinical practice is an important innovative strength of Erasmus MC. We can achieve our strategic research goals by ensuring that crucial preconditions are met and if we manage to maximize our strengths. What are these strengths in particular?
Rotterdam as our base, the region as our working area
Erasmus MC is located at the heart of Rotterdam, a city with ambitions in the field of Life Sciences & Health. The city has a highly diverse population, both in terms of cultural backgrounds and health, and socio-economic status. The challenges that we see in Rotterdam are similar to those in other urban areas. Erasmus MC is part of a regional network for education, knowledge development, and innovation, not only through the Convergence (see below) but also through partnerships with knowledge organizations such as TNO, with educational institutions such as the Universities of Applied sciences in Rotterdam and The Hague, and with the private sector. A well-functioning regional network is essential for attracting talent, start-ups, and companies and other partners who want to work with Erasmus MC to achieve innovations with real impact.
Partner in the Convergence
Erasmus MC is part of a broad and diverse ecosystem in which to conduct scientific work, from research on the smallest fragment of a cell to population studies. We collaborate with a variety of partners in the field of health. Our cooperation with Delft University of Technology and Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Convergence has made this ecosystem even broader and more diverse. The Convergence helps us to address societal challenges through the systematic connection between alpha, beta, gamma sciences with medical sciences and engineering. The convergence of diverse fields of science in the Convergence occurs in a number of areas that we have also identified as focus areas in our research strategy. The Resilient Data, Healthy Start, and Pandemic & Disaster Preparedness Convergence programs and the focus areas of Health & Technology and AI, Data & Digitalization are all consistent with our research strategy.
Collaboration with primary and secondary care
As a university medical center, we play a key role in the region, where we are the medical center for tertiary care. Erasmus MC is complementary to its partners in the region. This mutually complementary form of cooperation applies not only to healthcare, but also to scientific research. Research in primary care and in ‘top clinical’ and general hospitals is an important add-on to our academic and scientific efforts. Furthermore, secondary and primary care are indispensable links in bringing care closer to the homes of patients. The optimization of this collaboration with primary and secondary care requires connecting knowledge and data.
Top institutes in all shapes and sizes
Our strong position as a scientific organization is reflected in the numerous (inter)national top institutes that we accommodate. The Erasmus MC Transplant Institute is the largest center for liver, kidney, lung, and heart transplants in the Netherlands. Other renowned institutes include the Erasmus MC Cancer Institute, Erasmus MC Cardiovascular Institute, Erasmus MC Alzheimer Center, and our Healthy Weight Center, to name just a few. In the field of rare diseases, we are a major player in the Netherlands. The Erasmus MC is home to no less than 56 recognized centers of expertise for rare diseases. Since 2021, our organization also houses the Pandemic & Disaster Preparedness Center (PDPC). This is an initiative of the Convergence with Delft University of Technology and Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Room for fundamental research
Leading in cohort studies
For many years, the Rotterdam region has been the site of large and long-term cohort studies, which yield a wealth of meaningful scientific knowledge. ERGO, known internationally as ‘The Rotterdam Study’, is a prospective cohort study of the risk factors and determinants of chronic diseases. The study has been running since 1990. Also well-known is the Generation R Study, a prospective cohort study from fetal life into young adulthood in a multiethnic urban population. A third example is the Rotterdam Periconceptional Cohort, which studies the effect of hereditary predisposition, environment, and lifestyle from preconception to the end of the first trimester of pregnancy. The data obtained from such long-term studies is indispensable in promoting a healthy population.
Focus on digitization and data management
Future major innovations in health and healthcare lie in the areas where biomedical and physical sciences, medicine, technology and big data intersect. These innovations will influence our perspective on health and disease, at the molecular, cellular, individual, and population levels. The digital transformation is irreversible. It is happening rapidly and has already initiated many changes in the past decade. Artificial intelligence (AI) will play a key role in digitization. Once again, this is an area where Erasmus MC can make valuable contributions to major challenges in society and healthcare. Among other things, we can take advantage of our position as one of the hubs for Health-RI, the national infrastructure for integrated health data.
By adopting this research strategy, Erasmus MC has taken an important step towards a focus on distinctive scientific research in the broader field of health.