Universiteit Leiden

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Institute of Biology Leiden assessed as excellent

An external visitation committee gave the Institute of Biology Leiden (IBL) an outstanding assessment. In terms of research quality and relevance to society, the IBL gets the highest score: excellent. The increase with five new female professors also receives praise from the committee.


The assessment of research quality of the IBL is about the period 2011-2016. The committee assessed the IBL as a whole on the quality of the research, its relevance to society, and viability. The committee writes in its report to be impressed by the general research quality, which she calls 'world-class'. In addition, she is surprised by the translatability of the research, in which she describes the IBL as highly relevant to society. Finally, the viability of the IBL scores very well. The committee is pleased with the restructuring of the institute into the three clusters Animal Sciences & Health, Plant Sciences & Natural Products, and Microbial Biotechnology & Health, which promotes interdisciplinarity.

PhD programme

The PhD programme of the biology institute also receives the label excellent. ‘The PhD programme appears well-organised and the interviewed students uniformly expressed their high level of satisfaction with the programme’, the committee states in the visitation report. Furthermore, she investigated the integrity by interviewing staff members and PhD students. The committee comes to the conclusion that the right measures are in place to ensure integrity in research. Finally, the committee looks at diversity and inclusiveness and is pleasantly surprised that the number of female professors has increased from zero to five.

‘Very pleased with conclusions’

Herman Spaink, the Scientific Director of the IBL, is very pleased with the conclusions of the report. 'Based on the earlier CWTS citation analysis, we already knew that scientifically we were doing very well, because it indicated that we belong to the top of biology institutes in Europe. This report confirms that, as it confirms our own view that our research is extremely socially relevant. For a number of points of attention of the report we already have made great progress. For example, by expanding the appointment of molecular ecologist Martijn Bezemer, we strengthen the collaboration with CML and Naturalis. And the shared appointment of theoretical biologist Roeland Merks together with the MI now greatly enhances the capacity for modelling within our institute. This appointment also provides additional opportunities for collaborations with the LIACS. Finally, the appointment of biological chemist Nathaniel Martin offers great opportunities to expand our work on antibiotics and, in cooperation with LIC and LUMC, give even greater critical mass. ' 

The assessment was performed by an external assessment committee using the Standard Evaluation Protocol (SEP) 2015-2021. The SEP was drawn up and adopted by the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). All research conducted at Dutch universities, University Medical Centres, and NWO or KNAW institutes is assessed once every six years in accordance with the SEP. The primary aim of SEP assessments is to evaluate the quality and relevance of academic research and to suggest improvements where necessary. SEP assessments focus on the strategic choices and future prospects of research groups.

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