On 23 May 2019, Eurolife Network Members, guests and academic speakers gathered together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Network. To mark this special occassion, the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) hosted the Eurolife semi-annual 2-day meeting together with the Eurolife Mini Symposium on Research Innovations in Oncology, followed by a Reception and Anniversary Dinner.
The history of Eurolife can be traced 21 May 1999, when the Network was founded at a meeting hosted at the European Commission in Brussels. Initially, seven European universities signed a document committing themselves to the Eurolife Network of European Universities, under the coordination of Prof. Stephen G Hillier, University of Edinburgh. The aim was to develop the “Eurolife brand” as a pre-eminent, identifiable and well-known standard for education and research in Europe, allowing portability of qualifications. The Eurolife Network has since evolved to a high level European collaboration in Life Sciences, currently coordinated by the University Medical Center Göttingen, Germany.
“Over the last 20 years, Eurolife has grown from a project-triggered collaboration to an organization that sets trends and inspires ” comments the current Chair of the Network, Prof. Tim Gollisch from the University Medical Center Göttingen. “Eurolife has enhanced the trans-national scientific and educational interactions within Europe and continues to foster a coherent policy regarding research and training activities between academic institutions.” Ms. Agnieszka Buelens, the current General Coordinator of Eurolife from the University Medical Center Göttingen reports: “In the course of the 2-day Eurolife meeting, the Network continued to explore ways in which we can foster joint transnational initiatives, which will continue to harness our individual institutional strengths. The 20th Anniversary of the Network is a special occasion, which celebrates the Eurolife’s contributions to the European education and research, and the field of life sciences”.
To bring the story of the founding of the Network a bit closer to the audience, the Honorary Guest, Prof. Stephen G Hillier from the University of Edinburgh and the founding father of Eurolife reported on the early history of Eurolife. Prof. Hillier described the events, which led to the founding of Eurolife and emphasised that: “You can’t make a network, it needs to be grown”. He explained that Eurolife is a cooperation that has evolved organically, through regular meetings and close discussions, as well as shared interests and ambition of its Members. Prof. Hillier reports: “It was a huge privilege to have been part of the 20th anniversary celebrations, and to have had the opportunity to review the network’s early years. Clearly, things have gone from strength to strength. Above all, Eurolife’s achievements over two decades testify to the benefits of pan European partnering in the life sciences. Long may it continue. Prof. Hillier acknowledged the early encouragement provided by the European Commission through the good offices of Dr. Bill Baig (DGXII-E4). Prof. Hillier also thanked his Colleagues from the University of Edinburgh – Prof. Colin C Bird, the first Chairman of Eurolife and Dr. Dorothy Watson, the first Administrative Coordinator of Eurolife. The Honorary Guest was then presented with the Eurolife medal, which marks his contributions to the Network and great impact on the early history of Eurolife.
In addition, Prof. Jan Carlstedt-Duke, former Eurolife Chairman from Karolinska Institutet, and Prof. Ruud Kukenheim, Eurolife Founding Father from LUMC, also honored the Members with their presence at the event. In appreciation for their great impact on the Network, all Eurolife Chairmen present at the event were invited to the stage. Prof. Carlstend-Duke joined by the recent Eurolife Chairmen, Prof. Pancras Hogendoorn from LUMC, Prof. Francisco Ciruela from the University of Barcelona and Prof. Tim Gollisch from the University of Göttingen were presented with small gifts. The former Eurolife Chairman and Founding Fathers were flattered to be invited to participate in the Anniversary celebrations and were delighted to note the continuing development of Eurolife and its transcontinental initiatives.
Prof. Dr. Lorraine O’Driscoll from the School of Pharmacy, Trinity College Dublin delivered the Eurolife Distinguished Lecture titled: Hope and hypes of exosomes and other extracellular vesicles in cancer. Prof. O’Driscoll is now the 28th Eurolife Distinguished Lecturer – academic expert to receive the Eurolife Medal promoting a unified vision of the aims of the Network and stimulating interaction between researchers at Eurolife Partner Universities. The presentation was extremely well received by the large audience at the Aula of the Leiden University Medical Center.
In addition, as part of the Eurolife Symposium, LUMC researchers Sylvie Noordermeer (dept. Human Genetics) and Fijs van Leeuwen (dept. Radiology) showed the latest developments of their work on mechanisms of therapy resistance in BRCA1-mutated tumours and image-guided surgical oncology respectively.
About Eurolife achievements
Since its founding, a number of EU-funded research projects have been developed with the involvement of at least two Eurolife Partners, the Network established a number of education and research initiatives and affected the academic, professional and personal lifes of many students, researchers and academics.
The Collaboration of Eurolife members has resulted in over 200 student exchanges between the Network’s Partner universities and Eurolife prides itself in already having facilitated the exchanges of over 50 students and researchers, within the context of the three Eurolife Mobility initiatives:
In addition, Eurolife has so far funded 73 grants for the Eurolife Summer and Winter Schools.
Launched in 2008, the Eurolife Distinguished Lecture Series has seen 28 academic experts in the field present at Eurolife Partner Universities promoting a unified vision of the aims of the Network and stimulating interaction between researchers at Eurolife Partner Universities.
Eurolife Lecture Series is the most recently launched action of the network. Its goal is to facilitate and encourage educational and scientific interactions. Following the successful launch of the action at the University of Strasbourg in 2018, Eurolife plans the next Lectures to take place at the Medical University of Innsbruck in 2019.