Beyond the scientist: Pim Assendelft

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Pim Assendelft, professor in general practice and head of the department of Primary and Community Care. 

Where and when were you born?

I was born in 1961 in Hillegom, in the Western part of Holland. Known as the “flower bulbs area”. 

Where do you live and with whom?

I live in Nijmegen, near to the Goffert park, together with my two sons (Tomas and Matias), my partner Lille and our dog Elita. 

Who was your role model when you were a kid?

My adolescent role model was Che Guevara, the Argentinian guerrilla who liberated Cuba. 

Why aren’t you doing the same thing now as your role model (or do you?)

When I grew older I realized that fighting in the jungle against injustice was perhaps a bit too naive, but also too complicated, way of reaching my goals. 

What is the thing in your (work or other) history that you are most proud of?

That as director of the Dutch Cochrane Center and later head of guideline development of the Dutch College of General Practitioners I was one of the pioneers of the evidence-based movement in the Netherlands. Besides that, I’m also very proud of my fatherhood. 

What is it that you would like to achieve in work in the next 5 to 10 years?

A more integrated, prevention-focused healthcare system. We are still far from that. Patients still get lost in our fragmented healthcare and we are wasting resources. For this we need innovative research methods to develop new concepts of care and that are able to prove the advantages of such a system for patients, healthcare workers and society. 

For what can we wake you up?

Cheese biscuits with a glass of red wine is one of my guilty pleasures. But I have many more. 

What is your hobby and how good are you at it?

I like long distance running, preferably in the forest. I’m not particularly good at it, but for my age I’m doing quite well. Besides that I like hiking (especially in the mountains) and camping in remote places. In short: being outside and being active. 

What is your biggest irritation?

Lack of clarity, especially in relation to unwillingness to discuss it.

Who would you like to invite for dinner, if you had the chance?

Frans Huygen, the founder of the department of general practice in Nijmegen. A very colourful man with many visionary ideas about primary care. I would like to discuss his pioneer role in relation to the established role of general practice nowadays.


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