The UMC Utrecht has appointed Elbert Geuze as professor of Neuroscience of Stress and Trauma, with the career profile ‘exploratory researcher’. Elbert will focus on trauma-related mental disorders, improving treatments for them, and increasing mental performance under stressful conditions. This chair was created through a unique collaboration between the UMC Utrecht and the Ministry of Defense.
Elbert Geuze studied chemistry, biochemistry and neuropsychology in Canada and Nijmegen. In 2006 he obtained his PhD cum laude in Utrecht for research into the brains of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. His research focuses on the neurobiology of stress-related disorders, often in collaboration with the Ministry of Defense. Since 2019, he has headed the Expertise Center of the MGGZ, focused on diagnosis, treatment and prevention of stress- and trauma-related complaints.
Identify psychological complaints early
“Traumatic events are an inevitable part of the human experience,” says Elbert. “And although the brain’s response to stress and traumatic events is usually adequate, these types of events unfortunately regularly lead to psychological complaints. Professionals who operate in environments with a high stress load and an increased risk of traumatic events, such as healthcare, police, fire brigade or military personnel, are particularly vulnerable to this.” Cohort research among military personnel has shown several vulnerabilities for developing psychological complaints after stress and trauma. Elbert: “We can use this knowledge to identify and treat problems early.”
Seek optimal treatment
The research within this chair builds on existing work and uses technology and methodology (such as virtual reality, brain stimulation and machine learning) to look for new options for optimal treatment of these complaints. Because optimal mental health is an essential condition for functioning as a professional in high-risk professions, Elbert Geuze’s group will also conduct research into how pharmacological agents and neuromodulation can be used to improve physical and mental performance during exposure to prolonged periods of stress .
“I am grateful for the opportunity that this chair offers to draw more attention to people who suffer from stress- and trauma-related psychological complaints,” says Elbert. “Our research aims to contribute directly to the well-being of this target group. It is also an honor for me to train a new generation of scientists and thus further deepen the field of neuroscience of stress and trauma.”
Collaboration UMC Utrecht and Ministry of Defense
The Ministry of Defense and UMC Utrecht are working to strengthen their collaboration, with the aim of further improving care for (psycho)trauma patients. Part of the collaboration is bringing together initiatives in the field of scientific research, innovation, education and training and developing joint research lines. By increasing the exchange of knowledge, expertise and experience, and conducting scientific research together, the military and civilian world strengthen each other. The Ministry of Defense and the UMC Utrecht want to contribute to a better outcome of care for soldiers and civilians. The appointment of Elbert Geuze is an important next step in the development of this civil-military cooperation.
As of the academic year 2023/2024, UMC Utrecht will use six academic career profiles when assessing academics. Elbert Geuze’s career profile is ‘exploratory researcher’. Read more about the profiles here.
Questions, comments or tips for the editors?