Mireille Sthijns (MERLN) wins 2018-2019 IMPACT COURSE

june 27, 2019

MERLN researcher Mireille Sthijns has won the 2018-2019 IMPACT COURSE contest for her research on the treatment of diabetes type I, and a cash prize of €1000. During the final round, she guided the jury through her research, making clear how she plans to use it to make an impact. The jury was particularly impressed with her strong action plan.

Mireille: “In order to protect pancreatic islets for the treatment of diabetes type I from low oxygen levels and nutrient stress, we build a capsule that keeps the oxidant-antioxidant balance stable. This provides better protection for the islets and should ultimately make it easier to treat diabetes type I.”

Five nominees

The five nominees for the award who presented their research to the jury on June 18, 2019 were Mireille Sthijns (MERLN), Christian Ernsten (FASoS), Alie de Boer (UCV), John van Oorschot (Zuyd) and Katarina Stankova (DKE).

The topics of their research ranged from a study on the influence and involvement of the Meuse River to improving and providing scientific proof for health claims for products to guarantee safety and health.


Alie de Boer won second place for her research on the opportunities and areas for improvement for the scientific substantiation of policy choices in the field of food regulations. Researcher Christian Ernsten came in third place for his research on the history and development of the Meuse River and how this affects modern life.

22 researchers from UM and two from Zuyd University of Applied Sciences participated in the IMPACT COURSE. The jury was made up of John Marugg, senior business developer at Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus, Bouwien Janssen, Director of Development & Alumni Relations and Director of the Limburg University Fund (SWOL) and Margot Krijnen, press liaison for Maastricht University.


During the IMPACT COURSE, researchers learn how to translate their own research results in the long-term to ensure they possess concrete economic or social relevance. The course consists of six modules that address both the substantive and hands-on aspects. Students acquire knowledge on intellectual property, teamwork and entrepreneurship, but also on the use of scientific communication and the development of a vision for applying their research. 

The IMPACT COURSE was conceived and developed by Ivo George of KTO, the division of UM that supports researchers in the arts and humanities and social sciences in putting their knowledge to use to benefit society. Jan Cobbenhagen, director of KTO: “Our aim with this course is to offer our scientists real tools for translating research to concrete contributions to the approach to social problems. Making a social impact is a priority, and where possible, we also strive for a fair financial return.”

For further information on the program, please contact Ivo George via i.george@maastrichtuniversity.nl.

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