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 18 August 2022

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Ernst Kuipers is Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology of the Academic Hospital Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

He grew up in the Noord-Oost polder, a rural area in the Netherlands, and studied medicine at the University of Groningen, where he graduated cum laude in 1986. He was trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology in Deventer, Groningen, and Amsterdam between 1986 and 1994. He then became head of the gastroenterology outpatient clinic at the Free University Hospital in Amsterdam.

In 1994, Professor Kuipers participated in the WHO meeting on H. pylori and gastric cancer. In 1995, he obtained a PhD cum laude for his thesis on the interrelation between H. pylori, chronic gastritis and gastric cancer. Between 1996 and 1997 he worked as research associate in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA, with Professor M. J. Blaser.

Professor Kuipers is a member of the editorial board of Gastroenterology, Digestion, and the Cochrane group for upper gastrointestinal and pancreatic disorders.

His research area of interest has been the esophagus and stomach, with research covering GERD, Barrett esophagus, Helicobacter pylori, gastritis, and esophageal and gastric cancer.

Professor Kuipers is married and has four sons.

What made you decide to become a gastroenterologist?
The stimulus and enthusiasm of Hugo Hazenberg, one of my supervisors in Deventer. I started to do endoscopies with him in the first months of my internal medicine training. He also stimulated me to get involved in research and write the first manuscripts - I guess like many people get started, first by describing an interesting case, then a simple medical intervention trial, and so on.
Who was the teacher you admired the most?
I admired Hugo Hazenberg and Kor te Velde, who, during my basic training in Deventer, taught me straightforward approaches to clinical problems in an excellent way. From the perspective of an academic gastroenterologist, I admire Guido Tytgat, for which no explanation is needed. With respect to basic science, I admire Marty Blaser. I had a wonderful opportunity to work with him. He is an excellent basic scientist and teacher.
Which research paper influenced you the most?
The simultaneous papers from Julie Parsonnet (N Engl J Med 1991; 325 (16): 1127-31) and Marty Blaser (N Engl J Med 1991; 325 (16): 1132-6) in the NEJM as well as that of David Forman in the BMJ (BMJ 1991; 302 (6788): 1302-5) on the relation between H. pylori and gastric cancer very much helped me to focus on research in this area.
What is the most important fact that you have discovered?
I cannot think of a single 'fact' which I discovered (who does discover 'facts' . . .?). What has given me most fun was to present and defend the hypothesis that the pattern and prognosis of H. pylori gastritis depends on acid output. Another thing that was fun was a retrospective study conducted 10 years ago in a large area of the Netherlands (Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd 1990 Jul 14;134(28):1337-9). This looked at the association between Streptococcus bovis infections and GI cancers. It was published in Dutch, and was certainly not new in the literature, but we were able to gather a relatively considerable number of patients from a large area over a long period, and confirmed a very strong association between this bacterium and the presence of GI cancer. From the response, the report had impact by making Dutch physicians aware of this association. Also, my work with Marty Blaser on DNA transfer and quasi species development in Helicobacter pylori was very rewarding.
What is your unfulfilled ambition?
Ah, let me see. What about making the GI and Hepatology Department of Rotterdam an excellent and sociable academic environment with many international contacts and excellent research?
What is your greatest regret?
What a question! Life is an uncontrolled experiment; everyone must have many greatest regrets even if they state that they have none . . . I certainly do not regret my involvement in
How do you relax?
Sailing. Like many people in Holland, we have a house near water. I have sailed ever since I was a small kid, and still love to do it. Other relaxing events are of course having dinner with friends, etc.
What is your favorite sport?
Cycling and sailing.
What is your best place in the world?
Terschelling (an island at the north of the Netherlands), which my family visited since my early childhood. It is a great place for simple holidays with kids. Other favorite places are Sydney, Australia (wonderful city, I've been there twice), and Provence, France, with the mont Ventoux (a must for cyclers to climb at least once and clock your performance from Bedoin, the village below, to the observation tower at the top of the mountain . . .). For sailing I have many favorite areas.
What is your favorite film?
No specific favorite, which sounds terribly dull I know, but why mention a favorite film if I have no favorite . . .
What car do you drive?
Volvo 850 station.
What is your best electronic 'toy'?
Canon ixus camera (wonderful - put it in your pocket and take it anywhere, even when biking).
What book are you reading at the moment?
"de Soete Suikerbol" (for children).
Why did you get in involved in
Roy Pounder asked me.

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