All Dutch universities are represented in the SMBWO. In addition, there are seven scientific professional societies in the biomedical field. These societies set up the requirements for the education of a medical-biological scientific researcher according to SMBWO standards within the particular specialty. To comply with these requirements a candidate for SMBWO registration needs to follow specific additional couses, if deemed necessary. These courses, if completed successfully, ultimately lead to recognition (certification) by SMBWO.

Fields of research

Currently, certification is possible as a biomedical researcher in the following specializations:

  • Epidemiology
  • Experimental Pathobiology
  • Immunology
  • Medical Physiology
  • Medical Microbiology
  • Parasitology
  • Nutritional science

Board members

Chairman : Mevr. dr. S.M. Bruisten, GGD Amsterdam
Secretary/ treasurer : Mw. Dr.Ir. R. Broekhuizen, NAV, Arnhem
Board member: Dr. J.D.M. Otten, Radboud Universitair Medisch Centrum, Nijmegen
Boars member: Prof. Dr. P. Heeringa, UMCG, Groningen
Secretary : Mevr. I.F. Zonnenberg, RIVM, Bilthoven

Member for the “Coreon”
Dr. B. Torensma, LUMC

Members for the Societies
Dr. Michiel de Boer (Dutch Society for Epidemiology), UMCG, Groningen
Vacancy (Dutch Society for Pathology)
Prof. Dr. J. Hoenderop (Dutch Society of Physiology), Radboud Universitair Medisch Centrum, Nijmegen
Dr. A. van der Meer (Dutch Society for Immunology), Radboud Universitair Medisch Centrum, Nijmegen
Mw. Dr. S.M. Bruisten (Dutch Society of Medical Microbiology), GGD Amsterdam,
Mw. Dr. L. Wammes (Dutch Society for Parasitology), LUMC, Leiden
Mw. Dr. Ir. R. Broekhuizen (Dutch Academy of Nutritional Sciences), NAV, Arnhem

Members for the Universities
Prof. dr. F.R. Rosendaal, LUMC, Leiden
Prof. Dr. P. Heeringa, UMCG, Groningen
Prof. Dr. Ir. Y.T. van der Schouw, Utrecht University en UMCU
Dr. S.A.J. Zaat, University of Amsterdam en AMC, VU University en VUmc
Dr. J.D.M. Otten, Radboud University en UMC St Radboud Nijmegen
Dr. W. Dik, Erasmus University en ErasmusMC Rotterdam
Dr. R. Winkels, Wageningen University
Mw. Dr P.F.G. Wolffs, Maastricht University

The Foundation for Biomedical Scientific Research (“SMBWO”) was established in 1981 and acts as an overarching organizational structure for postgraduate certification in the medical and medical biology field in the Netherlands.

The associations represented in the SMBWO aim for a recognizable professional identity of the medical-biological researcher in the medical field, in addition to clinical and laboratory specialisms. A guaranteed quality of education is a prerequisite. It is therefore the primary task of the SMBWO to ensure and, where necessary, improve the quality of postdoctoral scientific education by providing the quality mark “SMBWO registered Scientist”.

The SMBWO quality assurance is necessary due to the absence of generally applicable standards for research training within the various Dutch university institutions. As a result, significant differences in level between the various courses can occur. The SMBWO aims to provide a counteract these level differences as much as possible. The SMBWO also aims to establish an international minimal educational level for training of biomedical scientists. The increasing internationalization of scientific education and research makes it necessary to establish internationally recognized quality requirements for postgraduate courses, providing sufficient broad educational level in line with the Anglo-Saxon Masters Degree. Besides mastering theoretical and practical knowledge at their biomedical discipline, scientist need to have competence in general scientific disciplines, such as publishing in appropriate peer-reviewed scientific journals. The SMBWO aims to standardize training requirements for postgraduate education in medical-biological field to European standards.

The added value of an SMBWO recognition, in addition to the doctoral degree acquired at a Dutch university, concerns primarily the guarantee that the candidate generally has broader knowledge of the field and gained more experience in carrying out scientific research and reporting the results of the research. In addition, SMBWO recognition has a strong social impact. An increasing number of SMBWO recognition requests are being asked in vacancies for academic staff. Internationally, SMBWO recognition guarantees that international requirements for a PhD in the field are met.

General regulations

GENERAL REGULATIONS of the Foundation for Biomedical Scientific Research Training (SMBWO).

A. The SMBWO’s objectives

The SMBWO helps to set up biomedical scientific research training programmes. The SMBWO draws up regulations and monitors the quality of the programmes. These programmes are designed to familiarise students with the scientific and medical knowledge, ways of thinking and methodologies pertaining to biomedical research.

B. Composition of the SMBWO’s Board

  1. The Foundation’s Board will consist of the following members.
    – one scientific worker permanently employed by any university with a medical faculty;
    – one scientific worker permanently employed by a technical university or Wageningen University;
    – members appointed by the associations which are part of the Federation of Dutch Medical Scientific Societies (Federa) and which obtain specialist recognition through the SMBWO.
  2. The members referred to under (1) will be appointed in consultation with the institution or association where they come from. The goal will be to have a reasonable distribution among the relevant faculties, sub-faculties, universities and disciplines.
  3. The Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG), the Royal Dutch Veterinary Society (KNMvD) and the Society for Biomedical Scientific Investigators (VMWO) may appoint advisory members or observers. Advisory members and observers will not have any voting rights and may not stand for election.
  4. The Board members may establish an executive committee from among the Board’s members, which will consist of at least a chair, vice-chair and secretary/treasurer.
  5. The executive committee will prepare the Board meetings and implement the resolutions passed.
  6. If the chair and vice-chair are absent, the secretary/treasurer will act as the deputy chair.

C. The SMBWO’s duties

  1. Specifying the fields of education.
  2. Adopting the general training programme requirements in the General Regulations.
  3. Adopting the specific requirements for each field of education in training programme regulations (see also E2).
  4. Appointing a Board of Inspection and Assessment (CTB) for each field of education (see also F).
  5. Appointing trainers for each programme on the CTB’s recommendation (see also E4).
  6. Awarding certificates to candidates who have successfully completed the programmes (see also D5).
  7. Conducting appellate proceedings if there is a dispute (see also G).

Institutions which provide the training will themselves remain responsible for this, irrespective of the SMBWO’s involvement.

D. General training programme requirements

  1. SMBWO training programmes are profession-oriented programmes within the meaning of the Dutch University Education Act 1986, Article 12.3. They consist of a period of theoretical education and a period of practical scientific work. (The CTB will require additional instruction in some cases.)
  2. The requirements which the CTB will state for any additional activities (see D1) will be listed in the relevant training programme regulations. In general, the candidate must have written a PhD thesis in the area concerned and must have had at least four articles as the lead author, or three articles as the lead author and two articles as a co-author, in the relevant field, in an international journal with a referee system. The scientific research may be fundamental or applied in nature.
  3. If the theoretical education has been completed successfully, the institution concerned will provide a certificate.
  4. If a candidate has completed both portions of the programme (see D1), the trainers will assess his/her knowledge and skills, under the supervision of the relevant CTB, which will inform the SMBWO of the final judgment.
  5. The SMBWO will furnish a certificate to candidates who have obtained a certificate as referred to in D3 and who have also received a positive assessment as referred to in D4.

E. Specific training programme requirements

  1. The SMBWO will, upon the relevant CTB’s advice, promote training programmes within the meaning of these Regulations in connection with research assistant networks, research institutes and research schools where theoretical education is offered.
  2. For each field, the SMBWO will adopt training programme regulations based on a proposal by the relevant professional association(s). Consideration will be given to the general training programme requirements (see D) and recommendations by experts (if appropriate, foreign experts). The training programme regulations will describe: the university or higher professional education (HBO) study programmes which candidates need to be admitted; the substance of and requirements for the theoretical education; and the duration and substance of and requirements for the period in which scientific experience is gained.
  3. Upon the relevant CTB’s advice, the SMBWO will designate one or more institutes for each programme where the scientific experience can be gained.
  4. Upon the relevant CTB’s advice, the SMBWO will designate one or more experts for each of the institutes mentioned under E3 who will serve as a trainer for the candidates working there. The trainer must be actively working on the application of the specific discipline and/or scientific research in this area. He/She must have a PhD degree and must have demonstrated the ability to train candidates with a university education.
  5. The training institutes and trainers will be designated for a five-year period. This period may be extended each time by five years upon the CTB’s advice.
  6. After consulting with the relevant CTB, the SMBWO may enable candidates who have taken another programme than the required one and/or gained scientific experience elsewhere to qualify for a certificate.

F. The Board of Inspection and Assessment (CTB)

  1. Each CTB will consist of at least three members, who will be skilled and active in the particular field.
  2. The SMBWO will appoint the CTB’s members after consulting with the relevant professional association.
  3. The CTB will be appointed for three years, with the initial appointments being for all of the positions in the CTB. To ensure that, upon replacement, not an entirely new CTB will have to assume office, it is recommended that some of the individual members are appointed for longer than three years.
  4. The CTB members will designate a chair and a secretary from among the CTB’s members.
  5. No later than three months before a member’s appointment period expires, the CTB’s secretary will notify the SMBWO and the relevant professional association. The CTB will make a recommendation for a new member after consulting with the relevant professional association.
  6. A member may be reappointed.
  7. The CTB will register candidates for the programme who are reported by the SMBWO, after having checked whether the candidates satisfy the admission requirements.
  8. The CTB will determine the content of the theoretical education for each candidate separately based on the candidate’s prior history and on the training programme regulations. This will be done in consultation with the institution concerned.
  9. The institution concerned will inform the CTB if a candidate has successfully completed the theoretical portion of the training. Then, in consultation with the candidate, the institution and the trainers, the CTB will decide where this candidate will gain his/her scientific experience.
  10. The trainer will inform the CTB if a candidate has successfully completed the period for gaining scientific experience. Next, the CTB will check whether the candidate has satisfied all of the requirements under the programme regulations.
  11. At the SMBWO’s request, the CTB will provide the information necessary under D4, E1, E3, E4 and E5. On its own initiative, the CTB will furnish to the SMBWO the information referred to in F4, F5 and F10.

G. Appeals

  1. If there is a dispute between a candidate and a trainer, the relevant CTB will mediate in this. If this does not lead to a satisfactory resolution, either party may appeal to the SMBWO. The SMBWO’s decision will be binding.
  2. If there is a dispute between a candidate on the one hand and the CTB on the other hand, or between the trainer or institution on the one hand and the CTB on the other hand, an appeal may be lodged with the SMBWO. The SMBWO’s decision will be binding.


For general questions about the SMBWO you may contact the Secretary:

Dr. Ir Roelinka Broekhuizen

+31 (0)6 50835993


For administrative questions you may contact the secretariat:
Mw. I.F. Zonnenberg-Hoff