University of Vermont, Maastricht University Renew Alliance
- By Jeffrey R. Wakefield
Building on a track record of success, the University of Vermont and Netherlands-based Maastricht University Medical Center have reaffirmed a formal alliance, first formed in December 2007, that promotes collaboration across a range of fronts between the two institutions.
Since the alliance was formed, research collaborations between the universities have resulted in 32 separate publications in peer-reviewed journals. Seven doctoral students from Maastricht have done research at UVM, working collaboratively with faculty at the two schools. Two of them earned UVM master’s degrees before completing their doctorates at Maastricht.
“It’s been a very productive partnership,” said Richard Galbraith, UVM’s vice president for research. “Our hope is to expand and strengthen the current collaboration over time so it extends to new areas of research and exchange.”
In the past, the work has focused primarily on lung disease.
“The alliance has proven to be a unique opportunity for excellent research and exchange of students,” said Guy Peeters, president of Maastricht University Medical Center. “It is our ambition to broaden the scope of the collaboration to other areas and to involve more interested researchers from both institutions.”
The collaboration also positions both universities well with funders, Galbraith said, who are increasingly looking for cross-institutional and cross-country grant proposals.
The areas of the collaboration within the framework of the agreement include the following:
- Exchange of graduate students. Graduate students in programs affiliated with UVM’s College of Medicine and College of Nursing and Health Sciences will participate. Students in Maastricht’s College of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences will be eligible. Each institution plans to make graduate research positions available for students from the other school.
- A formalized undergraduate exchange program. In a precursor to the new agreement, the universities entered into a formal undergraduate exchange program last academic year. Two Maastricht students enrolled for the 2015 spring semester. Maastricht is the 17th international university UVM has developed a direct exchange program with. Expanding the number of these exchanges, which supplement traditional study abroad programs, is one of UVM’s strategic priorities.
- Exchange of knowledge. UVM and Maastricht will establish knowledge exchange opportunities between the institutions, such as annual conferences, interchange of staff for research and education, and exchange of information like library materials and research publications.
- Joint research. UVM and Maastricht will continue to collaborate in the area of research, promoting joint research activities and joint publications. The schools will also explore the development of a conjoint doctoral program.
- Areas of research. In addition to chronic lung disease, a number of new areas for collaborative research programs will be explored: exercise and movement, stem cell biology, perinatal data analyses, large data sets and biobanks and oncology.
A key to the partnership’s success to date, said Cynthia Forehand, dean of UVM’s Graduate College, is the quality of the graduate students involved and the first-rate research they’ve done.
“The students have been fantastic and often served as conduits to the cross-institutional published research,” she said. “We look forward in the coming years to seeing more Maastricht students involved in the exciting research that’s being done here and to involving more of our students in the important work that’s being done at Maastricht.”