Positive feedback on UMC Utrecht research
An international committee of top scientists visited UMC Utrecht to review our research. Every six years there is such a statutory assessment according to the Standard Evaluation Protocol (SEP), which applies to all universities and UMCs. This evaluation is not about the distribution of money but about monitoring quality. The evaluation committee has already presented its initial findings. The final report will come in January next year. Recommendations from this will be used, among other things, when formulating research objectives in the UMC Utrecht strategy 2020-2025.
In the run-up to this visit, the committee members had read the self-evaluation report of the six research programs, the spearheads, including Regenerative Medicine & Stem Cells. They then spoke for three days with researchers from all spearheads, from PhD students to professors. During the presentation of the first findings, committee chairman René van Lier makes it clear that the UMC Utrecht can be proud of its researchers. “An excellent job”, he judges about the quality and relevance of the research at UMC Utrecht.
According to him, the spearhead approach has led to multidisciplinary research and collaboration across the divisions. René van Lier makes a fundamental remark about the organization of the research. According to him, the mandate of the divisions and the spearheads should be clearer, because the ongoing discussions about the implementation of the strategy are counterproductive.
He praises the participation of patients: “Innovative and very good”. The UMC Utrecht considers the participation of patients so important that a group of patient representatives is included in this research assessment. René van Lier says he highly appreciates this and he advises the UMC Utrecht to adopt all recommendations of the patient representatives. One of those recommendations is an overarching policy in this area for all spearheads. The committee is also positive about the pronounced position that UMC Utrecht occupies in the field of Open Science, although it does wonder how widely it is supported in-house.
He also speaks highly about the organization of the PhD training. PhD students are happy that they work here and the dropout rate is low. René is remarkably critical about the perspective of talented researchers after their promotion: this is unclear and it would be good to make a UMC-wide policy for talent development and guidance. He is also critical of the lack of protected research time for doctor-researchers and the unclear position of non-medical researchers.
Although he praises the ability to raise research funding, for example from European subsidy programs, there is room for improvement when it comes to individual research grants. “In view of the quality of the young researchers”, he believes it should be possible to get more out of it: “Coordinate that and help them submit competing research proposals.” This could be a great task for a UMC-wide integrated research support department.