Blog: The Committee for Young Researchers & Scientists Retreat in Giessen

PVRI Member Authors: Michiel Alexander de Raaf

When Djuro sent me an e-mail that he rented a castle for the weekend and he asked me to join him, I had mixed feelings of surprise and excitement. Would this finally the moment to push our scientific collaborative friendship further? Perhaps I misjudged the situation a bit, I thought. Especially, when I noticed that I was not the only one being invited. And then I understood. It was the PVRI retreat for the Committee of Young Clinicians and Scientists. It was work. Science is a though game.


The first –and therefore historical - PVRI CYCS Retreat was located at the castle of Waldeck in Germany. The Waldeck castle is known to provide a substantial influence in world history. In 1858 for example, Emma of Waldeck – Pyrmont was born there. She married the Dutch king William the Third who needed to stabilize his legacy after his unsuccesful previous marriage with his niece Sophia. Emma gave birth to our later queen Wilhelmina and after the death of Willem the Third, she was regent in the period when Wilhelmina was still a child. In this light, we tried to let the influence of the Waldeck castle be reflected in our effort to support by evolving the PVRI.


The program started on Friday afternoon by welcoming everybody. We had a lovely dinner and the CYCS board discussed about the agenda. Later that evening, we had a wonderful tour in the castle, seeing the dungeons, prisons and well. The well was dug by two prisoners who were released when they found water. After 27 years, and 140 meters of well, they lost their eyesight but finally found water. Upon release, one of the prisoners was that excited that he died by a heart attack.


The beautiful rolling clouds surround the castle contrast to the dungeons underneath

On Saturday, we had a CYCS plenary council meeting in the morning, addressing all ongoing topics of our committee. Some of these topics were discussed immediately and others were postponed to Sunday. In the afternoon we had a splendid social teambuilding event by leaving the castle using a cable track and went sailing on the lake. In the evening, after dinner, we started our scientific session which was full of interactive discussions. As total score, we had 14 presentations (from the 11 attendees) and covered a broad spectrum of today’s cutting-edge science in the field of PVD. Sunday the day started with the second half of the CYCS plenary council meeting, where we discussed the remaining topics. My Waldeck Retreat finished a bit earlier; as my wife is also a scientist and was on her way to a congress herself, I headed back home to continue my duties as father. The others remained and continued in the same spirit and ambiance as the days before, having the second part of the scientific sessions closed by a dinner at the Waldeck castle.

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Aside for the scientific success, we had also other successes. Regarding the PVRI CYCS tasks, the timing of this retreat was superb, as we were able to discuss about our ongoing projects and start preparations for the Annual Meeting in Miami. We had two ‘plenary council meetings’ (and one board meeting) to discuss and evaluate all ongoing projects. We never had so many topics discussed and never had so many ideas to explore and improve the council. I sincerely believe that we came a vast number of steps further and that the things discussed at Waldeck will echo in a more effective CYCS for a long time. We were able to produce and provide something for the PVRI, which is an important benefit of the Waldeck retreat and could also be anticipated on in the future.


Regarding friendship, this retreat had a marvelous atmosphere; giving ample possibility to start and strengthen friendships. This is already reflecting in the increased dedication and activity we experience now among our members. All attendees are that enthusiastic that they would love to make a possible next retreat an even better success.

All attendees of the PVRI CYCS Retreat at Waldeck, would like to acknowledge Mariola Bednorz for the wonderful organization of this historical meeting. This retreat showed the strength of our CYCS, and personally I feel very fortunate to have experienced this.

Michiel Alexander de Raaf, PhD, B.A.Sc.

Published in:

PVRI Chronicle Vol 3: Issue 2 cover image

August 2016

PVRI Chronicle Vol 3: Issue 2

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