In the Pandemic & Disaster Preparedness Center (PDPC) scientists of Erasmus MC, TU Delft, and Erasmus University Rotterdam research virus outbreaks and disasters to be better prepared in the future. Initiator and head of the Viroscience department Marion Koopmans explained the four research themes of the center and gave the NOS a tour of the BSL3 lab.
Chairmen Ernst Kuipers of Erasmus MC, Ed Brinksma of Erasmus University Rotterdam and Tim van der Hagen of TU Delft opened the PDPC in the presence of Ahmed Aboutaleb, mayor of Rotterdam and Marja van Bijsterveldt, mayor of Delft.
In the PDPC, Erasmus MC, TU Delft, and Erasmus University Rotterdam are joining forces around four research themes to be better prepared for future pandemics and natural and climate-related disasters. The first research theme is Pandemic Prediction and Preparedness. This topic examines new, as yet unknown infectious diseases.
In preparation for possible pandemics, the researchers not only examine viruses and disease but also how to respond during a pandemic and what the social impact would be. Koopmans: “How do you deal with mental health and how do you deal with social inequality that seems to amplify during a pandemic?
Sea Level Rise
Another research theme is Disaster Impact and Response. This includes research on the effects of sea level rise in delta cities. Professor of Hydraulic Engineering at TU Delft, Bas Jonkman, works with research partner Deltares. He explains: ‘In the PDPC we can explore the well-protected delta city of the future. How do we evacuate everyone quickly and how can we maintain the required level and quality of health care in the event of a flood or other disaster?
The design of health care systems is also being studied, in the theme: Resilient Healthcare System Research. Researchers use today’s lessons to minimize the burden on healthcare and design healthcare systems to cope with pandemics and disasters.
The theme Vector-Borne Diseases in Urban Deltas focuses on delta cities in relation to infectious diseases. At Delft University of Technology, research will be conducted into the design of wetlands as buffers in the event of flooding. However, mosquitoes are also common in these types of wetlands, and they can quickly turn into a breeding ground for infectious diseases. Connections like these can be made quickly in the PDPC because researchers from different disciplines meet to discuss solutions.
Koopmans emphasizes the importance of strategic collaborations, both national and international. Marc Bonten, professor at the Department of Epidemiology at UMC Utrecht, is part of the team of researchers at the PDPC. In addition, the PDPC works closely with the Netherlands Centre for One Health, where efforts are focused on developing an integrated One Health approach that is resilient to the risks of infectious diseases.
Watch the entire opening on Amazing Erasmus MC.