CNCR founding father prof. dr. Wijnand Geraerts dies at age 77
Wijnand Geraerts, biologist by training, designed CNCR together with Menno Witter and Dorret Boomsma, promoting groundbreaking, multidisciplinary research and bringing scientists with different backgrounds together within CNCR.
Wijnand Geraerts was born in 1942. He studied at the University of Utrecht and started his PhD research at VU University Amsterdam at the former Biology faculty. He obtained his PhD in 1976 with Joos Joosse, one of the first professors in VU biology. Early on, Wijnand recognized the power of model organisms, molecular biology, and proteomics. Around 2000, he first completed a major restructuring of neuroscience at the Biology faculty, focusing on rodent model systems and pushing for groundbreaking research. Subsequently, he designed a new center on the VU campus where biologists, geneticists, clinicians, psychologists and later also physicists, would work together on some of the major questions in neuroscience. This center is now known as CNCR.
His design was a historic success. The major investments in neuroscience at the VU campus that Wijnand helped to generate have not been met since. Two new departments were established, attracting Matthijs Verhage and his team from Utrecht to form the FGA department and Peter Heutink and his team from Rotterdam to form the MGA department. Major investments in instruments were made and professors were appointed at multiple faculties to promote a cross-discipline research culture. This multidisciplinary concept and the major investments made have been instrumental in the success of CNCR and its current international recognition.
Wijnand Geraerts was a scientist pur sang, who thrived to push the boundaries of our knowledge. He was also a gifted teacher and an inspirational mentor. His drive for groundbreaking, multidisciplinary research is a signature that is still very much at the center of the institute he designed and has influenced many, directly or indirectly, on the VU/VUmc campus.
Wijnand Geraerts passed away on June 21st
Guus Smit, Arjen Brussaard and Matthijs Verhage