Home » News » Looking back at the NCOH Science Café 2023

Looking back at the NCOH Science Café 2023

‘Making connections’ was the overarching theme of the Netherlands Centre for One Health Science Café in the Van Swinderhuys on 9 November 2023 in Groningen. This year’s meeting was organised by the University of Groningen. After a warm welcome and introduction of Groningen Research by University of Groningen’s Bert Poolman, NCOH’s chair of the executive board Annemarie Rebel addressed the Science Café attendees whereby she underlined the importance of connecting the science at the Dutch top research institutes in the field of One Health.

After these talks an impressive line-up of speakers took us into their research, with a broad array of topics.

Combating sepsis

In the Netherlands, 95% of the hospital patients do not have clear signs of sepsis when they come to hospital. This is a challenge for doctors who have to diagnose and treat the patient. ‘The better we can recognize sepsis in an early stage, preferably in the emergency room, the better we can prevent the severity of the effects for the patient during their hospitalization,’ says Hjalmar Bouma of UMCG / University of Groningen. To gain more insight into the infectious diseases and sepsis, data is gathered via a survey among visitors of the university hospital and answers analyzed. ‘Machine learning is used to identify the patients who are more at risk for sepsis’, explains Bouma, ‘In the future we aim to have more indicators than just the vital parameters to help us recognize sepsis in early stages and treat the patient accordingly.’

Bluetongue epidemic

Melle Holwerda from Wageningen Bioveterinary Research takes us to the bluetongue epidemic in the Netherlands. Holwerda explains that the whole genome sequencing has not revealed the geographical origin of the BTV-3/Net virus causing the current disease in the Netherlands. ‘The virus detected in our country is unique and doesn’t match with other known BTV-genomes in international databases,’ says Holwerda.

Staphylococcus aureus infections of metal implants

The research of Ellen Verheul of Leiden University Medical Center focuses on metal implant-associated infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus. Current investigations aim to elucidate potential alternative therapeutic strategies in the medical management of prosthetic joint infections, such as the application of bacteriophages, antimicrobial peptides and non-contact induction heating. ‘There is some bacteriophage tolerance noticed in our research, but we would like to know more about the mechanism around this.’

Genomes of foodborne pathogens in a One Health perspective

Tim Dallman of the Institute of Risk Assessment Sciences, part of Universiteit Utrecht, focuses on genomic analysis of foodborne pathogens and their environment from a one health perspective. ‘Machine learning models hold great promise to provide a predictive and discovery framework to understand infectious disease phenotypes,’ states Dallman.

Combining scientific knowledge to combat pathogens

‘RNA viruses involve rapidly in hosts. Knowledge of their phylogenetics contributes to finding answers to these pathogens,’ according to Sebastian Lequime, researcher at the university of Groningen. Using the West Nile Virus distribution in the United States as an example, the researcher illustrates the importance of combining scientific knowledge. Sebastian Lequime stresses the importance of putting all (meta) data of a genome when submitting this to a gene bank, ‘This helps researchers in their research when using the data from the genome.’

Building-up societal immunity

Reduced transmission and exposure to pathogens – as observed during the Covid pandemic – also reduces the immunity build-up of society, according Nina van Sorge. Data analyses shows that the human population becomes more susceptible to infections. ‘As soon as we lifted the corona restrictions, there was a spike in the incidence in invasive diseases,’ says Nina van Sorge of Amsterdam UMC. Antimicrobial resistance is an important threat to global health if appropriate action is not taken. Fortunately, there are steps being taken on different levels, says Van Sorge.

PhD pitches & speed date

Besides the talks, nine PhD students, one of each of the partners, pitched their research to the audience. So take a look at the overview of all pitches.

The afternoon ended with a speed date among all participants present, thereby making many (new) connections. The NCOH Science Café again revealed that veterinary and human health are different scientific fields, but they have very many things in common that can be beneficial when researchers of both fields of expertise exchange knowledge and experiences.