Ludo Hellebrekers, the new CVI director, wants to expand public-private research in Lelystad. Collaboration is essential in the new ‘One Health’ approach.
When Hellebrekers was still the chair of the professional association for vets (the KNMvD), he looked at what it was he enjoyed in his job. He decided that he got a boost from administrative challenges and from setting up public- private innovation projects. That was why he applied for the job as director of the Central Veterinary Institute (CVI). ‘I like operating at the point where science, policy and industry meet. This new job at CVI offers me that challenge.’
He is coming at an interesting time. As of 1 January this year the CVI management function has been split in two. Andre Bianchi is now responsible for the institute’s statutory research tasks while Hellebrekers will take charge of the overall management, including the contract research, from 1 June. What does he think of the split? ‘From a political perspective I can see why they would want to separate the responsibility for the statutory research tasks and the contract research. So I understand the decision, although there were no problems at CVI when the two tasks were combined in one management position. But the collaboration between the two managers becomes crucially important in the new situation.
’ It is not the only area in which Hellebrekers is looking to collaborate. He wants to play a major role in the National Centre for One Health, in which Wageningen UR, Utrecht University and the Utrecht University Medical Centre will be working together more intensively on human and veterinary health. ‘Researchers already collaborate closely on infectious animal diseases, the use of antibiotics, animal health and animal welfare,’ says Hellebrekers, ‘but there is still a lot to be gained through knowledge exchange with GPs, vets, municipal health services and quality managers in the feed industry. We all work on the same endeavour: to keep the populations of people and animals healthy.’
And Hellebrekers knows from his previous job that the CVI can contribute sophisticated expertise and excellent facilities. ‘I’ve often wondered why the CVI isn’t appreciated more by the outside world given its good reputation among the professionals in the field. That’s something I want to work on – improving its staff’s pride, gaining recognition from the outside world and raising the institute’s profile. I hope this will help us get more orders for research.’
Photo: William Hoogteyling