Organisation - February 28, 2011

'A Foundation Day speech like this is quite nerve-racking'

Interview with Louise Gunning, chairman of the Health Council

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Who? Louise Gunning, chairman of the Health Council
What? Foundation Day speech on Wednesday, 9 March
Where? Main Auditorium
Why? Because this year's theme is Nutrition and Health, and because Louise Gunning is the most influential woman in healthcare according to Opzij magazine.

Is this your first Foundation Day speech?
'Yes, and I am finding it quite nerve-racking. A foundation day is an important moment. You celebrate the existence of the university, which is something we should take more pride in. We Dutch can name all our top footballers but not our top scientists.'
Do you think that's a shame?
'Yes. Traditionally, public service has been one of the tasks of the academic world alongside education and research. Take our brilliant physicist, Hendrik Antoon Lorentz. He won the Nobel Prize but he also advised municipalities on the best place to put lightening conductors. That's how it should be.'
What is your message?
'That scientific research is necessary, but not sufficient, for policy decisions. You need to turn it into advice. For instance, when swine flu hit us it turned out there was little scientific knowledge on which to base policy. There was also a lot of uncertainty surrounding Q fever to start with. That is when you need experts who can look at things from different perspectives.'

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