ECTH 2016


Last week was the first edition of the European Congress on Thrombosis and Hemostasis in the Hague (NL). The idea of this conference is to provide a platform for european thrombosis researchers and doctors to meet in the dull years between ISTH meetings. There is a strong emphasis on enabling and training the young researchers, as can be from the different activities and organisational aspects. One os these things was the Junior advisory board, of which I was part. We had the task to give advice both solicited and unsolicited, and help organise and shape some of the innovative aspects. For example: we had the so-called fast and furious sessions, where authors of the best abstract were asked to let go of the standard presentation format and share their research TED talk style.

I learned a lot during these sessions, and even got in contact with some groups that have interesting methods and approaches that we might apply in our studies and patient populations. My thoughts: targeting FXII and FXI as well as DNAse treatment are the next big thing. We also had a great selection of speakers for meet-the-experts and how-to sessions. These sessions demanded active participation of all participants which is really a great way to build new collaborations and friendships.

The 5K fun run with 35+ participants was also a great succes.

The wednesday plenary sessions, including the talks on novel and innovative methods of scholarly communications as well as the very well received sessions from Malcolm Macloud on reducing research waste where inspiring to all. Missed it? do not worry, they have shared their slides online!

All in all, the conference was a great success in both numbers (750+ participants) as well as scientific quality. I am looking forward to the next edition, which will be held in Marseille in two years time. Hope to see you all there!


ILS conference in Leiden the Netherlands


I am back in the Netherlands this week. I’ve got some meetings planned, catching up with former colleagues, meeting some new people interested in working together on new projects I am starting up in Berlin, and of course I am meeting some friends along the way. But there is one more reason for me to go to the Netherlands this week: I was invited to the Interaction between legal systems conference. This international conference is organized by the Law faculty in Leiden and is focused on how different legal  systems interact, but also how legal systems interact with other fields of research and areas of expertise (e.g. psychology, statistics and epidemiology). More information on the conference can be found here.

But what am I doing there? I am going to talk about my interdisciplinary project on how civil law, and especially liability cases, relate to causal inference in epidemiology. This project, together with ILS conference organiser PWdH, is one of my pet projects in which we compare the concepts behind causal inference in both clinical epidemiology as well as legal systems. Both systems rely on the condicio sine qua non principle, where the idea is that the consequence of a cause would not have happened if the cause would not have been present. This idea is of course known as the counter factual theory in epidemiology, and is related to the potential outcomes approach. But this is only the start, as there are several problems and challenges that come up: although epidemiology has recognized the idea of multi causality for some time (think component causes), legal systems have only been working with  this  only for a couple of years and with some hesitance. A way to use this in liability claims is to use proportional liability, where the claim should be proportional to the number of factors the defendant is responsible for.  Sounds cool, but how to get to a fair division? How to interpret evidence? And can we use population measures like the population attributable fraction to substantiate a ruling on individual level?

I am invited to talk about this project, bust mostly and to tell the story of interdisciplinary research. It goes without saying that working on something so far from your own comfort zone brings along a lot of challenges and problems. For example since you can only oversee the quality and relevance of part of the project, you have might have the feeling that what you are working on is kind of useless (really, is this interesting?). But on the other hand, the questions that came up during this project also provided me with some insight into the concepts of epidemiology. Explaining why the things in your field are as they are will confront you will inconsistencies in your field and in your own thinking. I noticed that this project learned me a lot about the things I thought I understood, and that is for me the true added value of interdisciplinary research.

 – update jan 26: I uploaded a pdf version of the presentation, which can be found here (pdf)
– update march 17:I visited Leiden again, now on the invitation of the dept of criminal law to talk about the concept of multi causality. We decided that we might need to braoden this into a dutch publication, with e viewpoint from both tort law and criminal law. Interesting!

Honours Class ‘academic entrepeneurship’

Yesterday I was part of the Honours Class ‘academic entrepeneurship’, organised by the Leiden University in the ‘Living Lab’ | center for innovation. Together with 15 students we discussed how a scientist should be aware of the contect he is working in. From their website


Als wetenschapper communiceer je met veel uiteenlopende groepen: mede-wetenschappers, maar ook ‘het brede publiek’: je wilt hen informeren over jouw onderzoeksresultaten, en het is belangrijk dat je duidelijk maakt waarom jouw onderzoek belangrijk is. Verschillende vaardigheden zijn dan van belang: schrijven, presenteren, omgaan met ‘de media’ etc. Met sommige van deze vaardigheden zul je kennis maken in een (gast)college, met andere, zoals schrijven, ga je zelf aan de slag.

Om onderzoek te doen, is geld nodig en de hedendaagse wetenschapper moet daarom ook  ‘academisch ondernemerschap’ ontwikkelen: subsidies aanvragen en budgetteren zijn daarbij belangrijk.

My contribution was that the surrounding of a scientist also influences his actions and choices. We discussed the concept of scientific integrity and how integer behaviour might (or might not) be dependent on the context. In the end the students have to think how they can or might even should be aware of the threats to their scientific independence they might encounter while doing their research… I am curious what their answers are going to be!

Nacht van Kunst en Kennis

On the 14th of september (a saturday) the Nacht van Kunst en Kennis will be organised in Leiden. During this festival, the differences and similarities between arts and science will be explored on several locations. A great initiative, which might just increase the public awareness of the necessity of interest free research.The program is quite interesting with inspiring scientist and great artists!

I will also be helping out during this festival night: I will host the section that is organised by science cafe leiden. This organisation tries to bridge the presumed gap between science and the lay person. We will be discussing several themes which are still subject to change… currently we are thinking along the lines of bounderies… Where is the line between just the right amount and to much. More information on this special section can be found here

PhD defense

Promotie Bob Siegerink-35On february 5th I got to defend my thesis. On 13.45 the discussion started and I tried to answer all questions as clear as possible. After 45 minutes (“hora est”) the opposition committee retreated and discussed whether or not I passed the test. In the Netherlands it is never really a question on whether you make it or not: it’s more a ceremony than a true exam. So, when the acting rector magnificus told me that the committee decided to grant me my doctorate, that was not really a surprise. However, I was surprised to hear that it was decided that I passed with honors (a.k.a. cum laude). What a surprise and honor! I enjoyed the rest of the day celebrating with family, friends and colleagues. This was a great way mark the end of 4.5 years working on this thesis. Now it is time for new adventures!