Dutch King and Queen visit Feinberg, establish collaboration for study of healthy aging


Sean Su/Daily Senior Staffer

Provost Daniel Linzer welcomes King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands during an event held at Northwestern’s Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Center at NU’s Chicago campus. The Dutch royal couple visited NU to establish a partnership with the Feinberg School of Medicine to research healthy aging.

Mariana Alfaro, Assistant Campus Editor

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands visited the Feinberg School of Medicine on Wednesday morning to establish a research partnership to bolster the study of healthy aging, including research in early cancer detection and Alzheimer’s disease treatment.

During their visit, the royal couple met with Provost Daniel Linzer and appointed seven Dutch researchers as adjunct professors in Feinberg’s department of physical therapy and human movement sciences.

“We’re delighted to be playing a significant role along with the Dutch economic mission on the healthy aging agenda,” Linzer said during an event held Wednesday at Northwestern’s Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center. “In an effort to create a transatlantic partnership between Northwestern and top research institutions and industry leaders from the Netherlands, we have this poster presentation today with updates on investigations related to aging.”

The royal couple did not speak at the event and were not available for comment. They did meet with several researchers to learn about their studies and findings.

Before stopping at the Lurie Center, the royals visited the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. The events were part of the royal couple’s visit to the United States to promote research collaborations in the study of healthy aging.

“This is a continuation of two previous appointments with investigators and institutions in the Netherlands,” Linzer said. “Thank you for taking the time to visit and for promoting collaborations between Northwestern University, Dutch universities and Dutch companies.”

Marsel Mesulam, director of the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at NU, said the partnership, as well as collaboration with 26 other centers across the country, will support the study of Alzheimer’s disease prevention. He said once symptoms are present from the disease, it is too late to fight it, but with this research, new ways to prevent it can be studied.

“This is an absolutely critical study where the goal is to find people who have a risk factor called amyloid, to treat them with anti-amyloid agents and to see if we can prevent the Alzheimer’s symptoms,” he said. “This specific study may not be the final one, I’m sure it won’t, but this is the beginning of the most important phase in Alzheimer’s disease research.”

Jules Dewald, who organized the visit and is chair of physical therapy and human movement sciences at Feinberg, has collaborated with the Netherlands before and is currently working on two European grants with researchers at Delft University of Technology and the University of Twente to study high-density EEG brain imaging and robotic rehabilitation devices for the treatment of impairments caused by strokes.

“That link was already there but now the fact that the royal couple came by has really helped to amplify the collaboration to other universities,” Dewald told The Daily.

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