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Invitation: Symposia 


We would like to invite you to attend (one of) the following symposia organized by the Athena Institute:


1.  Grand Challenges in Disability: Research, Policy and Practice (click for more info)



2. Health for All: The Mental Health Challenge (click for more info)

    Mental Health


Please register with the secretariat at:




News (October 2014)

Start of MPA-program in Chennai, India


We would hereby like to announce the start of our MPA master programme in Chennai, India.

Together with TISS (Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai) and The Banyan (Chennai) we started the Institute of Mental Health, Social Sciences and Transdisciplinary Research (IMHST) in 2013. In this context, a need for capacity building in the Indian context was identified, in particularly for leadership and innovation in (mental) health care and beyond. Our master programme Management, Policy Analysis and Entrepreneurship in the Health & Life Sciences was considered suitable to contribute to developing leadership and (social) innovation in this area. We now have a license agreement with TISS, and since August 2014 the MPA programme is offered to students at the IMHST in Chennai.

We are very excited about all the opportunities this offers, not only for strengthening the knowledge and capacity base for leadership and innovation in India, but also opportunities for sharing lectures (online and real life), and for student exchanges between Chennai and Amsterdam.

We would like to thank all involved in making this possible at the VU and in India.



News (May 2013)

VU-master properly assessed by NVAO: ‘Good’

The master programme “Management, Policy Analysis and Entrepreneurship in the Health and Life Sciences” of the VU (Athena Institute) was assessed by the Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Organization (NVAO) as 'Good'.

The aim of the programme is to train students to explore solutions to complex societal issues related to health. When it comes to ​​'intended learning qualifications' and 'assessment and achieved final qualifications' the programme scores 'good'. In terms of 'teaching environment' the programme receives the judgment of'excellent'.

The NVAO is particularly pleased with the strong motivation and commitment of the teachers and argues that programme does an interesting effort to create a new discipline that bridges the gap between science, engineering and social sciences. In addition, the NVAO assesses the guidance of the students as particularly strong: “The teaching staff is very motivated and engaged. They effectively succeed in the learning process of the students. Also the preparation for the labor market is excellent.” The graduates have very good opportunities at the labor market.

Click HERE to see the official press release (in Dutch).



Science and technology contribute to progress

Science and technology have contributed to substantial economic progress in many countries and have brought increased welfare in terms of health and living standards to millions of people. Science and technology have pervaded our personal and everyday life, and have changed the way we feel, think, communicate and act. Prominent developing fields in science and technology are the health and life sciences; rapid changes in these fields alter our lives in ways we cannot foresee. To mention just one example, the increasing amount of technological breakthroughs in the field of genomics has made it possible to study the genetic basis of living organisms with far greater accuracy, while developments in proteomics and functional genomics give insight into the translation and functionality of genes. This provides unprecedented opportunities to further understand disease mechanisms, develop innovative therapies (e.g. personalised medicine), as well as new plant breeding options, to name but a few. In addition to these more disciplinary based innovations, distinctions between scientific disciplines are fading and large-scale research programs are increasingly interdisciplinary in nature resulting in new scientific fields. Ecogenomics, a merging of ecology and genomics, is an example of such a new interdisciplinary field with fascinating prospects for innovative applications.


The challenge is to realize the potential whilst addressing the concerns
The combination of progress in science and technology, the emergence of new broad interdisciplinary fields and the technology-driven nature of the innovation process creates new problems in society, amongst others with equity, environmental and health issues. The continuous challenge is therefore to realize the optimal potential of emerging science and technology fields, by integrating strategies addressing the anticipated possibly negative aspects, during the innovation process. 

Research Focus
The question we posed in our department more than 25 years ago is: how can science and technology development contribute to the improvement of health and well-being in a sustainable and equitable way?

Athena Institute consists of two departments:


The mission of Athena is to scientifically study and design interfaces between science and society to contribute to:

  • worldwide research efforts on a robust academic and societal understanding of key factors in innovation processes;
  • enriching science with increased societal legitimacy and improved research utilization;
  • an improved societal awareness of how innovations may benefit the sustainability, equity and fairness of societies.

To this end Athena conducts scientific research and provides teaching in bachelors and masters programs in its own faculty and in other faculties. In addition it advices (inter-)national authorities. 

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