When it comes to research into rheumatology, Belgium is playing at the top of the league. For the third time in a row, an alliance of Ghent-based researchers and clinicians has been awarded the prestigious quality label EULAR Center of Excellence. This European institute fosters excellence in education and research in the field of rheumatology. With only 22 other Centers of Excellence out there, the Belgian team’s achievement – the fruit of a partnership between VIB, Ghent University and Ghent University Hospital – is all the more remarkable.
EULAR, short for The European League Against Rheumatism, is a non-profit scientific and educational association. By collating a register of the top research centers in European rheumatology, the organization facilitates knowledge transfer between research institutes and defends the interests of people with arthritis before Europe’s governing bodies. Its Centers of Excellence are allowed to wear the quality label for 5 years.
The EULAR recognition is a crowning achievement of the partnership between VIB, Ghent University and Ghent University Hospital. The Inflammation Research Center (VIB-Ghent University) and the University Hospital have been joining forces for years now, to the shared benefit of rheumatology research and patients. According to professor Dirk Elewaut, who works in all three institutions, the sharing of expertise and resources between the three partners will further strengthen the knowhow already present in the region of Ghent.
Prof. Dirk Elewaut (VIB-Ghent University/Ghent University Hospital): “We can take pride in the acknowledgment because being a Center of Excellence means that you’ve been recognized for being able to present quantity and quality in publications. This is a real team effort. But achieving this label of excellence is one thing – maintaining it is the real endeavor. Of note, the department has been continuously recognized as center of excellence since the first implementation of this “quality label” . That is why we are planning to continue to pool together VIB and Ghent University’s basic research knowhow with Ghent University Hospital’s clinical expertise and experience.”
Exposure leading to collaboration
Thanks to the EULAR quality label, the reputation of VIB, Ghent University and Ghent University Hospital has been, once again, reinforced internationally. Rightly so, as the team for example paved the way around the year 2000 for a now globally used therapy for spondyloarthritis. In addition, the scientists pioneered in spondyloarthritis, culminating in the leading – and the world’s only – international spondyloarthritis congress every two years in Ghent.
Prof. Dirk Elewaut (VIB-Ghent University/Ghent University Hospital): “Belonging to this “Ivy League of rheumatology” increases our exposure, in turn leading to more and stronger interactions with leading institutions and biotech– both in Belgium and abroad, facilitating more innovative research and patient care.”