Universiteit Leiden

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Three new Leiden members of KNAW

KNAW has elected eighteen new members, including two professors at Leiden University and one who studied and obtained his PhD in Leiden. The New Academy members will be installed at a later date this year.

KNAW (the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) is a society of leading scientists and academics from all disciplines, spread over four domains. They are chosen per domain by members of the various bodies within that domain on the grounds of their scientific achievements. International members are excellent Dutch academics and scientists who mainly work abroad and non-Dutch equivalents who work in the Netherlands. KNAW has around 500 members. Membership is for life.  

The new Leiden members are:

Henk te Velde (1959)

Professor of Dutch History, Leiden University 

Henk te Velde describes politics as a cultural phenomenon. He gained an eminent reputation with his research on the history of nationalism and leadership in the Netherlands. He demonstrated that in around 1900 Dutch liberals embraced the nation state as a reaction to growing political pluriformity and how in each subsequent era the state gained the political leader it deserved. Later, Te Velde published on the history of politics and the monarch in the Netherlands post 1815. In recent years, Te Velde has introduced - in Great Britain and France, for example - new concepts, such as political transfer, political traditional leadership styles and the importance of rhetorical and theatrical aspects of politics that are not limited to the Netherlands alone. His ideas and methods find resonance among historians in the Netherlands and internationally. 

Maria Yazdanbkahsh (1959)

Professor of Cellular Immunology of Parasitic Infections, Medicine/LUMC, Leiden University

Maria Yazdanbakhsh's research provides insights into the interaction between parasites and our immune system. By combining her challenging fieldwork in developing countries with advanced immunological methods, she shows how pathogenic parasites can also have positive effects. In contrast to those living in urban areas, people living in rural areas have greater exposure to micro-organisms and parasites, which can cause fundamental changes in the immune system. This can have the effect of making vaccines less effective, but it can also reduce the incidence of chronic immune disorders, such as allergies, auto-immune diseases or type 2 diabetes. These findings generate not only valuable new insights, but also opportunities to better understand diseases and combat them more effectively. 

Marcel van den Brink (1960)

Professor of Internal Medicine, Oncology and Immunology,  Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, US

Marcel van den Brink studied and obtained his PhD at Leiden University, but now works in New York as a physician-researcher. He specialises in the immunotherapy of cancer and in particular bone marrow transplantation in blood cancer patients. The treatment for these disorders is extremely invasive: the body has to accept the new 'foreign' cells, rebuild its immune system completely from scratch and at the same time fight the cancer cells. Van den Brink has studied this complex process intensively and made many discoveries, such as the role of the thymus in immune regeneration following a bone marrow transplant, the pathophysiology of graft-versus-host disease (when donor cells in the transplanted bone marrow attack the patient's organs) and the influence of intestinal microflora on the success of bone marrow transplantation. His work has led to new therapeutic strategies and improved treatment options. 

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