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With deep sadness and disbelief, we have learnt that UvA/AMC staff members Joep Lange and Jacqueline van Tongeren, UvA student Sascha Meijer and UvA alumnus Laurens van der Graaff were on board the Malaysia Airlines aircraft that crashed in Ukraine. We wish to express our deepest sympathy with their friends, families and close colleagues.

Joep Lange and Jacqueline van Tongeren

Joep Lange and Jacqueline van Tongeren were en route to attend the biennial AIDS conference in Melbourne.

Joep Lange, Professor of Infectious Diseases, had a long history at the University of Amsterdam and the Academic Medical Centre (AMC-UvA), where, as an internist and researcher, he witnessed the emerging AIDS epidemic from 1983 and developed into one of the key scholars in Dutch AIDS research. He was one of the most prominent professionals in his field – a person who inspired many and managed to change the world through his unwavering commitment.

Following a short interlude at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, where he served as Chief of Clinical Research and Drug Development of the Global Programme on AIDS, Joep returned to Amsterdam to contribute to the fight against AIDS and other infectious diseases in developing countries with an incredible enthusiasm, vision and pioneering spirit.

Joep was a great source of inspiration for everyone who aimed to contribute to solving the AIDS tragedy in Africa and Asia. He was shocked to see how, from 1996 onwards, expensive HIV therapies became available to patients in rich countries, but not in Africa, and he made it his mission to change this and to put an end to the gross inequality in access to life-saving medication. Joep was involved in the creation of the Dutch PharmAccess Foundation and the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD), a partnership between the Academic Medical Centre (AMC-UvA), the University of Amsterdam, VU University Amsterdam and others. In addition, he was co-founder of the Health Insurance Fund, the first medical insurance system in Africa.

One of the milestones in his career was undoubtedly his presidency of the International AIDS Society. During this period in particular, he enjoyed the support of Jacqueline van Tongeren, who helped him organise a wide range of initiatives. Over the past few years Jacqueline served as head of Communications at the AIGHD. Thanks to her previous experience as an HIV-AIDS nurse, she was extremely familiar with the issues concerned. Over time, the bonds between Joep and Jacqueline developed far beyond those of a relationship between colleagues.

We are devastated by the news and by the realisation that we will have to move on without these two very special people who made such an immense contribution to global health care.

On behalf of the Executive Board of the University of Amsterdam, 

Louise Gunning, President of the Executive Board

Sascha Meijer

Sascha Meijer (1989) was a student in the Research & Redactie (Research and Editorial Desk) track of the Master’s in Journalism and Media at the University of Amsterdam. Prior to this, she earned a BA in Media and Culture at the UvA’s department of Media Studies.

Sascha had great journalistic talent. During her studies she made ​​beautiful productions, such as a video portrait of René Bernards, winner of the 2013 Academy Professors Prize, which she made with two fellow students for the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). With another fellow student, she traveled through Brazil and wrote about her experiences for, among others, The Post Online and Het Parool. Sascha also made, together with two classmates, an innovative interactive production about the Ghanaian community in the Bijlmer which was recently published in and online at the NRC Handelsblad. Over the past six months, Sascha worked on a programme about prostitution and human trafficking in the Netherlands, which will be broadcast by the Evangelische Omroep (EO).

Last Thursday, Sascha and her boyfriend were on their way to Indonesia for a holiday. The staff and students of the Master’s in Journalism and Media are shocked by this sudden, terrible loss. We knew Sascha as a warm and calm person, who, in her distinctive way, was committed and passionate. She didn’t recoil from difficult subjects and never gave up. Sascha met everyone with an open attitude and accepted people as they are. Sociable and open, and with a sharp eye for human stories, Sascha was a very good journalist. Our thoughts are with her ​​family and all her friends.

Mirjam Prenger, coordinator MA Journalism and Media

Laurens van der Graaff

It is with much sadness that we have learnt that UvA alumnus Laurens van der Graaff and his partner Karlijn Keijzer were among the victims of the Malaysian airlines disaster in eastern Ukraine.

Besides Dutch language and culture, Laurens also studied political science at the University of Amsterdam. Laurens’s lecturers remember him as an enthusiastic and inquisitive student, who actively, and sometimes headstrongly, took part in lectures and seminars. Between 2010 and 2013, Laurens was the editor-in-chief of Propria Cures. After completing his studies, Laurens taught Dutch at the Geert Groote College, but could still regularly be found at the P.C.Hoofthuis. Laurens always enthusiastically provided active support to information activities and career orientation events. His own lectures were always marked by a great love for stories and language, which bears testament to Laurens’s willingness, critical mindset and enthusiasm.

We send our condolences to Laurens and Karlijn’s family and friends.

On behalf of the management of the Dutch department,

Thomas Vaessens, Jeroen Jansen and Astrit Blommestijn