Professor Vinod Subramaniam

Rector Magnificus

Vinod Subramaniam (b. 1967) has served as Rector Magnificus and member of the Executive Board of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam since 1 September 2015. The focus of his portfolio is on creating the ideal conditions for excellence in research and education.

Educational background

Vinod Subramaniam studied electrical engineering at Cornell University. He received his PhD in 1996 from the University of Michigan (USA) in applied physics, based on his dissertation on the use of laser spectroscopy for protein folding research.

Work experience

Later he was affiliated with the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen (Germany) and in 2002 he became a senior researcher with AstraZeneca in the UK. In 2004 he was appointed professor at the University of Twente. He was also scientific director of MIRA, the University of Twente’s Institute for Biomedical Technology and Technical Medicine, which focuses on the interplay between research (basic and applied), practice (clinical base and demand) and entrepreneurial spirit. Professor Subramaniam was appointed Director of the FOM Institute AMOLF in Amsterdam in September 2013.

Ancillary activities

  • Board member of the Netherlands Physical Society (NNV)
  • Member of the FOM/v committee, an incentive programme to retain more female scientists for Dutch physics
  • Head of the FOM Institute’s programme entitled A Single Molecule View on Protein Aggregation.


Secretary: Paulien Oosterhuis
Telephone:  +31 (0)20 59 85320

Courage and character: defining features of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

“Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is a university with courage and character. The mix of students and staff who work and study within its walls on a daily basis reflects the diversity of today’s society. With all our faculties, VU University Medical Center and ACTA here on campus, we have a very valuable combination of specializations on which to draw. In this regard, I would like to encourage greater synergy in all kinds of ways. For me, cooperation is a core concept. My own research has always been interdisciplinary, and that means learning to speak each other’s language. How can you strengthen one other? In addition to mono-disciplinary research, we are increasingly working in consortia which take a multidisciplinary approach. My aim is to create an environment where we can combine our collective knowledge even more effectively and benefit from each other's expertise, knowledge and skills with a view to having an even greater impact on social issues.

We must always be aware of the application and social relevance of everything we do at our university. Of course, this cannot always be done to the same degree. Scientists also need to have the opportunity to carry out research on fundamental issues, drawing on their curiosity and their thirst for knowledge. You never know where the results of such research may lead: after all, the internet began life as an internal communications system at CERN. If only they’d known at the time...

At the start of my term as Rector Magnificus, my first assignment to myself is to listen. I am driven by a spirit of inquiry. What are people’s inspirations and preoccupations? What kinds of challenges are they facing? What ideas are waiting to be snapped up? The academic world has changed so rapidly in recent decades that it’s not always easy to keep up. Looking back in a few years’ time, I hope to be able to say that together we have been able to alleviate the pressure. That a healthy balance has been restored, enabling students, staff and researchers to achieve their fullest potential. That our confidence in one another has grown even stronger. In order to achieve this, it’s important that people share their problems and ideas with me, so I can act as a broker and a facilitator.”