Track 2: Empowering Healthier Communities Through Collaboration

The Institute for Preventive Health’s (i4PH) track addresses health challenges in the Netherlands, featuring an inspiring keynote session and two interactive workshops on ‘Nurturing healthy lifestyles and sustainable living environments’ and ‘Future frontiers in health’, involving AI innovations and Living Technologies.

Join us in thought-provoking discussions and crafting actionable strategies, paving the way for a healthier, more inclusive future for all Dutch citizens.

Here’s a little teaser of what you can expect in this track:


TimeType of sessionTitle
13.45 – 14.45Plenary sessionHealth challenges in the Netherlands: towards transdisciplinarity to craft a healthier future in The Netherlands
14.45 – 15.15BreakChoose your session:
15.15 – 16.30Breakout session 1Nurturing healthy lifestyles and sustainable living environments
15.15 – 16.30Breakout session 2Future frontiers in health: Living technologies and AI innovations for transformative preventive health solutions

In today’s world the prevalence of diseases is on the rise, the health gap between socio-economic groups is growing, and healthcare systems are under pressure. The institute 4 Preventive Health firmly believes that proactive, preventive measures are key to addressing these challenges.

However, to get to these measures, holistic understanding of the complex challenges facing preventive health and scientific breakthroughs are needed. This requires innovative approaches and unusual collaborative efforts between researchers and public-private partners. And that is well reflected in our track!

Our interactive track focusses on solutions for health challenges in The Netherlands, seen through the expert lenses of policy makers, lifestyle and living environment experts, AI and living technologies. How can these seemingly distant domains synergize to catalyze the transformative health transitions imperative for our society?

Sessions in detail:

Plenary session

Health challenges in the Netherlands: towards transdisciplinarity to craft a healthier future in The Netherlands.

Keynote speaker: Florien van der Windt – Director public health, Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS).

In her plenary session Florien van der Windt, director of Public health for the ministry of Life Sciences and Health (VWS) will explain her views on how we can establish a healthier population.

The Public Health Directorate works on the structural embedding of prevention, health promotion, and medical ethics. Together with other governments, societal sectors, and the business community, there is a strong focus on the so-called movement towards ‘the front end’, where the importance of a healthy society and prevention are central.

How should transdisciplinary researchers and policy makers collaborate effectively to address the complex challenges facing public health and ensure the implementation of evidence-based strategies that prioritize prevention and the promotion of a healthy society?

After the plenary session, there will be an engaging and interactive panel discussion featuring experts in preventive health.

Breakout session 1

Nurturing healthy lifestyles and sustainable living environments

This session is hosted by:

Abstract presentation

With ever more people living in cities worldwide, it becomes increasingly important to understand the positive and negative impacts of the urban habitat on livability, health behaviors and health outcomes. However, implementing interventions that tackle health in complex urban systems can be costly and have long-term, sometimes unforeseen and indirect, impacts. Hence, it is crucial to not only assess the health impact of interventions, but also its cost-effectiveness and the social distributional impacts of possible urban exposome interventions before implementing them.

Abstract presentation

Play is fun, and we recognize play when we see it. But play is also important for healthy social, emotional and cognitive development. Play allows children (and animals) to experiment with their behavioural repertoire, with social interactions and to learn from challenges they face. We know a lot about play and the importance of play from research with rodents. Research in rats has shown that not being able to play affects the development of brain and behaviour in the social, emotional and cognitive domain. What are the implications for children who are limited in their opportunities to play? Could play be a key to preventive health?

  • Marleen Onwezen // (WUR) Designs to guide consumers towards desired behaviour in the food environment

Abstract presentation

The world is confronted with major challenges regarding health and sustainability. Changes in consumer dietary patterns are needed to support solutions, for example consuming less animal-based and more plant-based proteins. I will highlight that consumer decision making is not always rational and deliberative, though influenced a lot by more unconscious and affective factors. I will explain how this works and provide some examples of interventions that proved to be effective to support consumer decision making towards desired more healthy and sustainable choices.

In this session three experts in the field of lifestyle and living environment take you on a journey through the preventive health landscape. They will explain what preventive health measures can do to make lives healthier, each from their own expertise. During an interactive transdiciplianry workshop, you will be in charge. Which problems do we need to tackle first, and what solutions should be implemented in society?

This session has a maximum capacity of 50 people.

Breakout session 2

Future frontiers in health: Living technologies and AI innovations for transformative preventive health solutions

This session is hosted by:

  • Roy van der Meel // (TU/e) Engineering platform nanotechnology for RNA delivery to immune cells

Abstract presentation

Nucleic acid therapeutics are revolutionizing healthcare via gene inhibition, addition, replacement or editing. However, nucleic acid-based drugs require chemical modifications and sophisticated nanotechnology to prevent their degradation, reduce immunostimulatory effects, and ensure intracellular delivery. Lipid nanoparticle (LNP) technology is the current gold standard platform that enabled the clinical translation of the first siRNA drug Onpattro and the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. Nevertheless, current LNP systems are mostly suited for vaccine purposes following local administration or hepatic delivery following intravenous administration. To unleash RNA’s full therapeutic and prevention potential, I will introduce modular nanoplatform technology for systemic nucleic acid delivery to immune cells in hematopoietic organs using apolipoproteins.

  • Clara Belzer // (WUR) Gut Microbial Synthetic communities to study how microbial ecologic networks collaboratively ferment glycans from diet and mucin

Abstract presentation

Glycans from our diet and gut mucin have an impact on the microbial ecologic interactions in the human gut. It is a challenge to unravel the metabolic interactions and trophic roles of the highly complex and individual gut microbiomes. Synthetic minimal gut microbiomes are used as a tool to investigate key microbes in microbial cross-feeding and syntrophic interactions that lead to the degradation of mucin and dietary glycans. In my group we designed synthetic gut microbiomes to study adult (MDb-MM), infant (BIGSyC) and mucosal (PMDs), microbial ecologic and metabolic interactions. Our communities range from 6-16 bacterial species covering all trophic niches and cross-feeding potential within the gut environment of interest. Overall, our work provides crucial insights into the co-existence, metabolic niches and trophic roles of key intestinal microbes in a highly dynamic and competitive in vitro ecosystem. As such we provide a model to test the effect of dietary or other changes on the gut microbiome ecologic structure and functionality and a possible alternative to fecal microbiota transplantation.

  • Frederik Verweij // (UU)  Message in a bottle: tapping into Extracellular Vesicle communication pathways in vivo

Abstract presentation

Extracellular Vesicles (EVs) are nanometer-sized vesicles secreted by virtually every cell type in our body. By shuttling specific cargo-molecules from one cell to another, they establish intercellular communication pathways able to reprogram recipient cells. As such, EVs are implicated as essential mediators in physiology and pathology. Yet, due to their miniscule size, much of how they behave in real life remains obscure. To unravel these EV-communication pathways and use this knowledge to our advantage, we use molecular tools to visualize and modulate these biological information flows in living model organisms. 

  • Sam van Beuningen // (UMCU) – AI and Automation in Patient Derived Living Technologies

Abstract presentation

Patient derived cellular disease models have great potential for developing new therapeutics and study biology since they closely represent the human biology. However these system are highly heterogeneous and vast amount of experiments and data are required to get useful insights. During this talk we will show how the use of state-of-the-art automated laboratory set-ups for experimental standardization and Artificial Intelligence in analysis pipelines can speed-up and standardize this process.

Let’s take a look into the future of preventive health, which may be closer than you think.. What do living technologies bring to the table, and how does AI support human decision-making?

This session takes you on a journey with experts as they chart the future of health through living technologies and AI innovations. Discover the mysteries of gut ecology with synthetic microbiomes, and delve into the intricate communication of extracellular vesicles and their impact on physiology. Explore nanotechnology’s role in enhancing RNA delivery for gene therapy, and how AI accelerates insights into human biology and disease mechanisms through patient-derived cellular models. Experience the latest discoveries that are shaping transformative preventive health solutions, promising a future where technology plays a pivotal role in enhancing well-being and longevity. Join us on this exploration at the forefront of healthcare innovation, where cutting-edge science meets real-world impact.