Guess what? We are not the only research consortium in the Department of Movement & Sports Science at Ghent University. We share our office with Sanne Stegen, she is the coordinator and spoc of GRAY, the consortium ‘Ghent University Research for Aging Young‘. She’s a Doctor in Movement Science and is passionate about people, health and society. Together with a team of 30 Ghent University experts spread across 6 faculties and 12 departments, she helps build an age-friendly world. What is her story? Read the interview below!

Who is Sanne Stegen?

I have always been passionate about health, people and society. Both my education and my doctorate were in the field of movement sciences. But also afterwards in the private sector (Energy Lab), health and physical activity were a common thread throughout my job. Also now in my current job, I feel lucky that I can work with people who share the same passion.

What was your motivation to take on the challenge to lead the GRAY consortium?

I like to stay at the crossroads where research, private sector (professionals), society and government come together. Looking for opportunities to work together, that’s what I like to do. In addition, the mission of GRAY is totally my cup of tea. Aging Young, Healthy Aging. Not necessarily to make people grow older, but to keep them fit, healthy and happy for as long as possible.

The target group (people over 65) fascinates me. After all, they are my parents and grandparents. And in 30 years it will be my turn. All the more reason to turn it into something powerful.

Sanne Stegen

What is GRAY?

GRAY stands for Ghent University Research for Aging Young and brings together the expertise on boosting healthy aging from very different domains at Ghent University.

For example, this interdisciplinary research consortium combines expertise on the biology of aging, health promotion, healthy behavior (exercise, nutrition, mental well-being and cognitive behavior), geriatrics, environments that encourage healthy aging and the use of adaptive technologies within the field of aging.

Our main objective is societal valorization of research. But of course that is very broad. At the moment we are focusing on interdisciplinarity and cooperating with partners and organizations outside our university. After all, solving complex social issues (such as an aging population) requires insights from different domains. So we try to bridge the gap between science and society. 

Thereby, it is great to see that UGent appoints coordinators who are allowed to work on building that bridge and are given time to do so. Researchers are sometimes very socially driven, but they don’t always find the time to follow the societal field close by. 

How are and will GRAY and Victoris (be) working together? 

The theme of health is highly regarded at both GRAY and Victoris. We each have our own idiosyncrasies (Healthy Aging at GRAY, and Sports Technology and Innovation at Victoris), but our common ground is mostly in health(tech). And most of all, Kristof De Mey and his team are lovely people to work with!

Sanne Stegen - Victoris team
  • Fascinated by all facets of Healthy Aging? Feel free to browse our website, or follow us on Twitter!

  • Are you 65-plus? We are regularly looking for test subjects to participate in one of our studies on Healthy Aging!

For all your general questions, contact us through our website!

Ghent University, GRAY, health tech, innovation

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