In memory of ESNR Honorary Member Prof. Jan Wilmink

06/08/2021 : In memory of ESNR Honorary Member Prof. Jan Wilmink

In Memoriam Professor Johannes ‘Jan’ Theodorus Wilmink

Professor Jan Wilmink passed away on August 1st, 2021, at the age of 78. 

Jan was born in Groningen in The Netherlands on February 9th in 1943 and was raised in South Africa, where he attended primary and secondary school in Pretoria.

After studying medicine at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands he received his neurology training in Utrecht, Curacao, and Groningen. 

Upon completion of his training in 1976, he was temporarily appointed as a neurologist in the Neuroradiology department in Groningen, under the leadership of professor Lourens Penning.

During the following three years, he became so fascinated by neuroimaging that instead of entering neurological practice as intended, he decided to undergo an additional period of radiology training to supplement his neurological background. He thus transformed from fully trained neurologist to radiology resident and re-entered the Neuroradiology department as a neuroradiologist in 1982. Five years later, he succeeded professor Lourens Penning as head of the department in 1987. In 1989 he accepted an invitation to take up the post of professor of neuroradiology in the new University Hospital of Maastricht. Jan moved from the northernmost to southernmost part of The Netherlands with his beloved wife Jelleke and their four children. The lifestyle in the South, near the Belgian border, suited Jan’s love of fine food and wine particularly well.

Under Jan’s leadership, neuroradiology in Maastricht evolved to a truly academic subspecialty. He trained many radiology residents and fellows and was forever dedicated to conveying his vast wealth of knowledge. He strongly felt that the radiologist should be a true consultant, rather than just the producer of reports; neurologists and neurosurgeons were always welcome to discuss their patients with him and he was well-loved and deeply respected by his clinical colleagues.

Jan Wilmink was one of the founding fathers of the Dutch society of Neuroradiology. He held office in the Dutch and European societies of Neuroradiology, as chairman of the Scientific Awards Committee of the European Society of Neuroradiology (ESNR), as National Delegate for the Netherlands in the ESNR from 2001-2007. He was also member of the Nomenclature Committee of the American Association of Spinal Radiologists, amongst many other positions. He participated as first or co-author in over 100 peer-reviewed scientific articles. He served on the Editorial Board of the journals “Neuroradiology” and “Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery”.

Jan’s main interest was in spinal imaging, in particular the lumbar spine. His expertise encompassed the full spectrum from basic techniques with conventional imaging, to myelography and advanced MR imaging techniques. This culminated in the textbook he finally found the time for to write after his retirement: “Lumbar spinal imaging in radicular pain and related conditions: understanding diagnostic images in a clinical context”.

In 2017 Jan Wilmink was awarded the honorary membership of the European Society of Neuroradiology, an honour he was immensely proud of and which he was able to celebrate with his late wife in Malmö (picture).

Many of us will remember Jan for his extensive teaching activities, locally, nationally and internationally, both within and outside Europe. He participated in teaching visits, European courses, and numerous scientific meetings, passing on his knowledge of and passion for neuroradiology to many generations to come.

Most of all we will remember Jan for his personality and laughter: a little headstrong at times, warm and respectful always. A gentle giant, a beloved friend, and a mentor. He inspired us within and outside our daily work. We will miss him.

Marion Smits, Rotterdam
Linda Jacobi-Postma, Maastricht