Rudi GJ Westendorp

Rudi GJ Westendorp


Member of:

Current Positions

  • Professor of Medicine of Old Age, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Principal Investigator of the Novo Nordisk Fonden Challenge Grant ‘Harnessing the Power of Big Data to Address the Challenge of Ageing’
  • Senior Scientist, Statistics Denmark, Denmark





Field of Study

INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France

EMC (honours)


Change management

Dutch Epidemiologic Society, Netherlands




Leiden University, Netherlands




University Hospital Leiden, Netherlands



Critical Care

University Hospital Leiden, Netherlands



Internal medicine

Leiden University, Netherlands

MD (honours)





Trained as an MD (1984) I became a consultant in Internal Medicine (1990) and Critical Care (1992). A series of experimental studies on critically ill patients provided me with a PhD (1993). I acquired an additional master in epidemiology (1997) how to design, handle, and analyse clinical studies. One of my early contributions was on fatal trajectories of meningitis, published in Lancet. As my clinical activities moved to caring for older patients, I became a research fellow into the biology of ageing at the University of Manchester (1998). As a result of this stay, I published on the fertility-longevity trade-off in Nature.

When appointed full professor of Medicine in Old Age (2000), I combined my clinical position as head of the department of Gerontology and Geriatrics at the University Hospital Leiden with research into ageing. Often my observational studies were followed by human experiments in small groups, others by clinical trials in large numbers. These findings have led to numerous publications in general biomedical journals, including over 50 contributions in N Engl J Med, JAMA, Lancet, and BMJ.

In 2008 I became the founding director of the Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing, a privately funded institution in collaboration with the university, hospital, and municipality of Leiden. It became home for a series of PhD students on the economical, psychological, and social aspects of ageing. Moreover, I initiated the Master of Science on Vitality and Ageing that attracted ample international students.

It was 2015 when I moved to the University of Copenhagen to become co-director of the Center for Healthy Ageing of which I had membered the scientific advisory board since its inception in 2009. It allowed me to make a next step to perform state-of-the-art fundamental and inter-disciplinary research. The NNF challenge program awarded me (2018) a personal grant to connect biological specimen with population registers, attracting excellent researchers, and using their complementary expertise to address the challenge of ageing.

When I grew older myself, my focus shifted from children to older people, from health to well-being, from patients to society, from professionals to organizations, from doing to inspiring, and from the Netherlands to Denmark. By integrating the knowledge of business administration with the psychological disciplines at INSEAD, I’ve a better understanding of people on a fundamental level and use this skill to create more effective organizations.



2017    Harry Bröstrom Award, Association of Internal Medicine, Sweden

2014    Knight in the order of the Dutch Lion, Netherlands

2009    Honorary Doctor of Medicine, Newcastle University, England

2008    Fellow Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities, Haarlem, Netherlands

2008    Visiting professor, Australian Society for Geriatric Medicine, Australia

2007    Member of the Dutch Health Research Council, The Hague, Netherlands

2004    Career profile: “Tying It Together.” Sci. Aging Knowl. Environ. 2004;9:nf23

2004    Personal profile. Lancet 2004;363:1334

1998    Siebold Medical Award, University of Nagasaki, Nagasaki, Japan

1996    IFCC-AVL award, Society for Laboratory Medicine, Utrecht, Netherlands


Life Time Bibliometric Output






Science Citation Index





Google Scholar





For my peer reviewed publication list:


Teaching activities

2015-now    Professor of Medicine, faculty of health, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

2000-now    Successfully supervised 50+ PhD students; four are appointed full professor

2000-2018   Professor of Medicine, Faculty of Health, University Leiden, Netherlands

2010-2015   Director Master Vitality and Ageing, University Leiden, Netherlands

2000-2018   Professor of Medicine, Faculty of Health, University Leiden, Netherlands

1993-2000   Associate Professor, Faculty of Health, University Leiden, Netherlands


Institutional Responsibilities

2015-2020.   Co-director, Center for Healthy Ageing, Copenhagen University, Denmark

2012-2014    Director of the “VITALITY!-Program” of Medical Delta, Netherlands

2008-2014.   Founding Director Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing, Leiden, Netherlands

2007-2014    Chairman National Program “Care for Older People”, Health Ministry, Netherlands

2007-2010    Founding Director of the “Netherlands Consortium of Healthy Ageing”

2004-2008    Founding Chairman Section of Geriatrics, Association of Internal Medicine, Netherlands

2000-2014    Head Department Gerontology and Geriatrics, University Hospital Leiden, Netherlands


Membership Reviewing Boards

2018-2021     Scientific Advisory Group, National Innovation Centre for Ageing, Newcastle, UK

2016-2020     Scientific Advisory Group, EU funded consortium SELFIE

2010-2019     Scientific Advisory Board, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research,Germany

2009-2014     Scientific Advisory Board, Center for Healthy Ageing, Copenhagen, Denmark

2009-2018     Scientific Advisory Board, Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute, Netherlands

2009-2019     Editorial Board Age and Ageing

2004-2018     Editorial Board Aging Research Reviews

2003-2012     Editorial Board Journal of Experimental Gerontology

2000-2015     Editorial Board Netherlands Journal of Medicine


Ongoing Grants

“Harnessing the power of big data to address the societal challenge of ageing”

Principal-Investigator; 8 Mio Euro (2018-2024) Novo Nordisk Fonden, Hellerup, Denmark


“Center for Healthy Aging”

Co-Investigator; 10 Mio Euro (2019-2023) Nordea Fonden, Copenhagen, Denmark



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