'Feel connected’ symbolizes our aim to make all participants feel part of the ever expanding human genetics family. This family comprises ‘veterans’, but also many new PhD students from the different centres in the Netherlands and from across the borders in Belgium and Germany. In addition, we aim to bring the research communities in the lab and in the clinic closer to each other, i.e. to connect bench and bed side. Last but not least, the Rolduc Genetics Retreat is a place where the academic research community meets industry. To feel connected means to exchange novel scientific findings, to discuss novel ideas and outlooks, and, equally important, to meet peers in a friendly, constructive atmosphere.
The Genetics Retreat at Rolduc was first held in 1990. In those days, most NWO grants supported PhD projects; the PhD students were required to provide yearly progress reports. In the late eighties, four human genetics research communities in the Netherlands decided to jointly organize these yearly sessions. Both the organization as well as the meeting venue alternated. In 1990 Ruud Schuurman, PhD (University Leiden) and professor Joep Geraedts (Maastricht University) opted for the newly established conference centre at the former Augustinian abbey of Rolduc (Kerkrade, the Netherlands). Because of its unique atmosphere the meeting was so successful that it was decided to return to this site from then on, and thus a tradition was born: the yearly Genetics Retreat at Rolduc.
Over the years the NWO granting system has changed and the mandatory yearly progress meetings became facultative. The Rolduc Genetics Retreat, however, remained the meeting event in human genetics for Dutch PhD students and their supervisors.