Area of expertise
Cholestatic and autoimmune liver and bile duct diseases.
When did you decide to become a physician?
As a child, I had grown up on a ‘Zauberberg’ (Thomas Mann) next to a hospital for pulmonary diseases – my father was internist-pulmonologist and thoracic surgeon – in the forests of the Sauerland not far from a farm, a kind of a paradise for my brothers and me. Before the age of 18, I had excluded medicine and had looked for different options. But at 18, I underwent a mind-switch, when I recognized that economy, law, engineering or professional music were not my real passions. I turned 100% convinced that I had to become a caring physician.
Can you tell us more about your studies?
Since we did not reach the scores on our old-fashioned Gymnasium which were given in the neighbouring schools, I knew that I had to go abroad if I wanted to study medicine. I had an opportunity to start in Gent/Belgium, where I successfully passed the 3 years of preclinical studies, an enormous challenge for a foreigner! Thereafter, I continued my clinical studies in West-Berlin, Germany (monthly highlight: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra) and after one year I moved to Freiburg where I received my ‘Approbation’ (bul) as medical doctor.
Do you notice any differences between the German, Belgian and Dutch medical education?
I think that German and Dutch medical schools are well comparable, and that the average medical knowledge of Dutch and German students at the end of the studies is also comparable, but that Dutch and German students may be behind at the average Belgian student when considering basic knowledge. In my view, the Dutch system is particularly strong in the well-organized specialist training, at least for my discipline, Gastroenterology & Hepatology.
prof. dr. U. Beuers
Did you perform any research related activities while studying?
As a student, I had for a while the plan to become a ‘third world doctor’. I very much enjoyed 3- and 4-month medical clerkships on a faraway Indonesian island and in Northeastern Brasil. During the medical studies in Freiburg I started my dissertation on the field of neuropharmacology working for about 18 months on ‘The effect of the Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone system on β-endorphin and α-lipoprotein immunoreactivity in the rat’. I had chosen for experimental work in order to make this experience at least once in my lifetime. I was lucky to find an enthusiastic mentor (most important!) and was later unexpectedly awarded for this thesis.
When did you realize you wanted to specialize in Gastroenterology and Hepatology?
Professor Gerok, one of Feiburgs core Professors in Internal Medicine was my role model. He was a most respected chairman and highly gifted clinician, teacher and researcher on the field of hepatology. He convinced me to do a two-year post-doc period in Biochemistry in Göttingen to study liver metabolism before entering the clinic. Thereafter I joined the Department of Medicine, Gastroenterology and Hepatology in Munich and was mentored by Professor Paumgartner. I had been seriously ‘infected’ by the challenge to do clinical work in combination with research. In Munich, I combined my first clinical trials in cholestatic liver diseases with experimental work. After almost 6 years, I interrupted my clinical training and went to Yale University School of Medicine for experimental studies to further substantiate a hypothesis on which I worked. I can highly recommend students and fellows to study and work abroad in order to gain experience. Back in Munich, I finished my training in Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, became an associate professor and finally professor in Internal Medicine.
After 20 years, I felt that I need a new challenge. The AMC in Amsterdam appeared to me the most attractive and challenging among the offers I received. I came to Amsterdam in 2007.
What are your hobbies?
I very much enjoy sports (ski, football, tennis, squash, sailing, biking), classical music, reading and spending time on our island on the Vinkeveense plassen.
1983 Medicine: University of Freiburg, Germany
1983 Dissertation: University of Freiburg: “Die Wirkung des Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosteron-Systems auf die Freisetzung von β-Endorphin- und α-Lipoprotein-Immunreaktivität in der wachen Ratte”
1984-1986 Post-doc Biochemistry in Göttingen, Germany
1986-1991 and 1993-995 Specialization Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology & Hepatology in Munich, Germany
1991-93 Research at Yale, New Haven, United States of America:
1994 Habilitation: “Zu klinischer Wirksamkeit, Metabolismus und Wirkmechanismus von Ursodeoxycholsäure bei cholestatischen Leberkrankheiten”
1995-2002: Oberarzt, Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Munich
2003-2006: Leitender Oberarzt, Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Munich
Core Professor of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the AMC in Amsterdam.
Head of Hepatology.
Program director of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
Chairman of the national education committee for Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
Chairman of the Netherlands Association for the Study of the Liver.
Associate Editor, Journal of Hepatology
What are your research interests?
The role of a ‘biliary bicarbonate umbrella’ for the pathogenesis and effective treatment of various chronic progressive hepatobiliary diseases.
The pathophysiology and treatment of itch as a major debilitating symptom in cholestasis.
The pathogenesis and diagnosis of an only recently defined systemic autoimmune disorder, IgG4-related disease, which closely mimics other benign and malignant hepatobiliary and pancreatic diseases.
Numerous national and international awards/acknowledgements amongst others:
Three German scientific awards.
Two member of honour awards (Czechia and Slovakia).