Giel holds his breath for RUG research

Loads of Dutch celebrities will be holding their breath to support RUG researcher Reinoud Gosens’ lung study. Gosens is attempting to activate damaged lung tissue in order to repair itself.

Popular radio DJ Giel Beelen and retired Dutch national football team midfielder Ronald de Boer are both participating. On the Lung fund’s website, they challenge you to do the same. For every second, they will donate ten cents to Gosens’ study. All in all, he needs 300,000 euros: 3 million seconds of people holding their breath.

Gosens is researching wnt growth factors. They are proteins that prompt your body to repair itself: when you cut yourself cooking, they get to work to fix the damage. But they do not work in someone with COPD. Their lungs get so inflamed and damaged that the patient is continuously short of breath. Gosens suspects that the proteins are unable to pass on their signals to the broken cell core, and he is endeavouring to fix this connection.

‘Obviously, it’s great to have Ronald de Boer hold his breath in support of my study’, Gosens says. ‘I tried it yesterday with my three children. I lasted 77 seconds. My children, who are eight, six, and five, lasted a little less long. But we did cheat a bit.’ Gosens ended up donating 30 euros to his own research.


He says he was lucky that the Lung fund decided to invest in research into lung tissue repair. ‘It just so happened we were already working on that, so my research was the first to be awarded funding. And now that I’ve been working on it for a year, they said: give us your data and show us what you’ve accomplished.’

Gosens hopes the campaign will be a success. The Dutch celebrities will start the campaign in earnest on Thursday and then it will become clear whether the goal – for people to challenge each other, similar to the Bucket Challenge for ALS – will be reached.