Welcome to the website of the NWO-funded Vital Matters research project led by Dr. Rina Knoeff. By looking at bodily fluids, minerals, and the nerves, this project investigates how Herman Boerhaave's legacy gave direction to Dutch Enlightenment chemistry and medicine.

For more information, please visit the Vital Matters project and Research Output pages.



Histories of Healthy Ageing

University of Groningen, 21–23 June 2017

As Western populations grow increasingly older, 'healthy ageing' is presented as one of today's greatest medical and societal challenges. However, contrary to what many policy makers want us to believe, the aspiration to live long, healthy and happy lives is not a problem specific to our times. On the contrary successful ageing has a long history.

The Histories of Healthy Ageing (HHA) conference is based on the assumption that 'healthy ageing' has informed the medical agenda since Antiquity. With 'healthy ageing' we refer to ways of thinking about and treating the body not only from a medical perspective, but also taking into account questions of what constitutes a happy and fulfilled life. In particular these latter issues were central to medicine before 1800 and relate to healthy living as much as to questions connected specifically to old age.

For Programme and Registration, please visit historiesofhealthyageing.nl


A Healthy Appetite for Food and Diet

University Museum Groningen, 20 June 2017

Delicious and nutritious, food and drink occupy an ordinary yet essential part of people’s daily lives. But the way people experience food consumption and eating habits has changed considerably. Whereas in the past famines and malnutrition could kill a fifth of a country’s population, today obesity and diabetes are the cause of death for five million people a year. How have eating habits changed under the influence of new foodstuffs, food production, and consumerism? How were the nutritious qualities of nutriments understood and prescribed as diet? To what extent did diet and appetite determine people’s physical condition as well as their mental wellbeing? In this one-day seminar, professor Elizabeth Williams (Oklahoma State University) will host a masterclass on histories of food and diet, appetite and eating disorders, from Antiquity to the modern era.

For more information, please click here.

© 2017 Vital Matters – Dr. Rina Knoeff, University of Groningen