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A serendipitous voyage in the field of nutrition and metabolism in health and disease: a translational adventure

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I first want to acknowledge the contribution of my parents, who never disputed my decisions or the protracted course between leaving secondary school and becoming a licensed surgeon. They inspired me with confidence in myself. Fate has been benevolent to me offering a large number of accidental successive opportunities, without which my career could not have evolved in the way it did. Its backside was that my family had to put up with a father and husband, very often with his head in the clouds of patient care and of why reacts the body the way it does? My first actions in the surgical disciplines must have appeared adequate, so that my boss in the first small Amsterdam hospital, the late Henk van der Reijden pushed me into a training position in surgery in a larger hospital. One of the bosses in that hospital, the late Co Greep was appointed professor of surgery and one of the seven founders of the new medical faculty in Maastricht in 1974 and took with him three surgical residents, including me and one just licensed surgeon. A decade earlier, he had completed a 3-year training residency in Harvard University in Boston, USA during the Vietnam war, because the Massachusetts General Hospital was short in surgical residents that had to enlist in active military service in Vietnam in view of the numerous casualties of American soldiers. He therefore had easy access to the surgeons in Boston allowing us to be introduced and become clinical fellows in surgery and research, even receiving modest salaries. In Maastricht, there was no previous academic activity, so that everything proposed was welcome and money was available. Simultaneously, Foppe ten Hoor, a biologist and nutritionist was attracted as head of the department of Human Biology in the Biosciences part of the faculty. He realized that collaboration with the clinical departments would boost activities in this field. This started a fruitful collaboration, later leading to NUTRIM, the School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism. In the paper, I mentioned a number of names that have been important in the development of the field and my career. I want to add the nurses and dietitians in the nutrition team (Margriet Rouflart, Esther van den Hoogen), technicians in the laboratory (Hans van Eyk, Mieke Janssen), and colleagues (Maarten von Meyenfeldt, Jan Willem Greve, Wim van Gemert, René van der Hulst, Kees Dejong, Steven Olde Damink) and PhD students, some of which devised new studies following evolving themes deepening insight in metabolism in specific disease states. The collaboration with the department of Human Biology (Klaas Westerterp, Wim Saris) allowed to develop and use advanced techniques (body composition, tracer methodology, energy metabolism) that greatly facilitated and improved our research, for which I am grateful.

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Soeters, P.B. A serendipitous voyage in the field of nutrition and metabolism in health and disease: a translational adventure. Eur J Clin Nutr 74, 1375–1388 (2020).

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