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1.1.1 Introduction

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Students who want to subscribe for the BMS-courses of 2018/2019 need to check the studyguide of 2018/2019, which you can find here: http://www.ru.nl/prospectus/2018/fmw/

Biomedical Sciences @ Radboudumc

Welcome, starting colleague! You wish to become a biomedical scientist. Although it is not easy to obtain a widely endorsed definition of Biomedical Sciences (BMS). Although BMS historically have developed beyond the application of natural sciences to medicine to include such disciplines as epidemiology, it is true to say that the BMS have a role in the perpetual fight of humans against disease and illness. Its basic function is to foster the knowledge to give us a definite advantage in this fight. This entails a broad description of BMS, which covers a nearly infinite number of research questions that are acknowledged as viable biomedical, scientific questions, and it is no coincidence that we speak of BMS in the plural. Both a molecular scientist inquiring into the working mechanisms of influenza virus mutations and an epidemiologist searching for risk factors for developing diabetes type 2 do biomedical research. To solve health problems we need experts in all these disciplines. You wish to be one of them? That’s great! The question is: what kind of expert do you want to be?

Adopting a research question from the perspective of one specific field of expertise rarely leads to solving the underlying health or healthcare problem. The Q-fever could spread between the expertise and roles of outbreak epidemiologists, community care centres, veterinary experts, and many other persons and organisations. There is ample literature explaining that current challenges in healthcare are complex and warrant an interdisciplinary approach. A white paper, written by Philip Sharp and colleagues for MIT, emphasizes ‘convergence’, which the authors define as: “the merging of distinct technologies, processing disciplines, or devices into a unified whole that creates a host of new pathways and opportunities. It involves the coming together of different fields of study –particularly engineering, physical sciences, and life sciences– through collaboration among research groups and the integration of approaches that were originally viewed as distinct and potentially contradictory.” (MIT, 2011) We need to “educate the next generation of researchers to work in cross-disciplinary fields. While a deep disciplinary background remains vital, including a robust cross-disciplinary education is essential additional preparation for our future scientists and important for research careers.”

In other words, the complex, multifaceted problems that constitute the raison d’être of BMS requires experts that meet standards which not only refer to internal values of one scientific discipline, but to a larger context of innovation. This is not to say that all research should be ‘applied’ in the sense of having immediate consequences for health or healthcare. We need experts who do research from molecular mechanisms of health and disease to societal consequences of medical interventions. Still, to deliver experts who are capable of seeing how research fits interdisciplinary innovation processes is the hallmark of a BMS degree programme that in itself follows the ideal of the Radboudumc: to have a significant impact on Healthcare.

The question is: where do you want to develop as a biomedical scientist? We provide you with ample opportunities, you choose which meets your strengths and ambitions best!