Universiteit Maastricht

 

In Memory of Leo Blomert

Blomert lecture


This annual lecture in memory of Leo Blomert features leading experts in the field of developmental cognitive neuroscience, with a focus on reading and math development. Leo has been the founding chair of the Cognitive Neuroscience Department at the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, UM, and founding member of the Maastricht Brain Imaging Center, where he started his research group on Brain & Literacy in 2000. His research interests focused on the development of brain networks for reading and math and the role of multisensory processing in reading, converging in a new multisensory theory to account for successful and failing (dyslexia) reading development. Leo also directly applied his expertise in the societal domain by developing digital diagnostic tests for the cognitive profiling of developmental disorders dyslexia and dyscalculia.


Blomert Dyslexia research fund


In order to promote the continuation of neurocognitive research on literacy and dyslexia at the Maastricht Brain Imaging Center, the Blomert Dyslexia research fund financially supports research internships and research assistantships on this topic. For more information please contact Milene Bonte.




Sunday morning, Leo Blomert passed away after a long fight against cancer.


Leo was Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Maastricht University, focused on the neurocognitive development of reading and math. He was a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands and the Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research in Cologne, Germany, and a professor at the University of California Irvine researching brain plasticity following brain damage.

Leo had an entrepreneurial spirit and a valuable “yes we can” attitude. He had an essential role in our institution evaluating and pushing forward scientific concepts in his field. At the end of the 90s Leo had a vision: the Faculty of Psychology should have a cognitive neuroscience department, including imaging facilities for conducting research. Together with Louis Boon he began recruiting experts in the field, and the department became very successful. In 2005, together with Rainer Goebel and Elia Formisano, Leo co-founded the Maastricht Brain Imaging Center, which now works closely with the Brains Unlimited BV at the Health Campus.


Leo started the research group on Brain & Literacy in 2000. His major research interest was the development of brain networks for reading and the role of multisensory processing in reading and math development. He very recently proposed a new multisensory theory to explain success and failure (dyslexia) during the development of reading skills. He also developed digital diagnostic tests for the cognitive profiling of the developmental disorders dyslexia and dyscalculia. He was central to the implementation of the ethical committee in the faculty. Leo successfully lobbied the legislature to change the law so that dyslexia treatment is now covered by health insurance.


Leo was Leo. He was wild and energetic, sometimes chaotic. He was driven by curiosity about how humans acquire reading and calculation abilities. He was tough and straightforward with his scientific colleagues and young researchers. At first glance many assumed he was made of steel, but those who got to know him better saw his caring attributes and his big heart. His door was always open and he always made time for fruitful discussions; his sardonic wit and self-effacement was unique and always entertaining.


Leo loved his work and his family. In our last conversation he said, “Life is good.” He radiated this, and when the end was near impressed us with the strength, clarity, and simplicity of this statement. All who ever knew Leo will carry his legacy into the next generations. Leo, go wild!


Our thoughts are with Patty, Lena, Nora and Sam.


On behalf of the Faculty Board

Bernadette M. Jansma
(dean)


A memorial service will be held on Friday 30 November 2012 in the former Paterskerk on the Patersstraat in Rekem-Lanaken (BE) at 12.00. We will then accompany Leo by procession to the Veldwezelt-Lanaken church cemetery.

You can offer your condolences in the former Paterskerk in Rekem starting at 11.30.

Leo’s wake will be held in the R. Barthels funeral home at Stationstraat 117 in Lanaken where you will have the opportunity to say goodbye on Thursday from 16.00 to 20.00 or at another time by appointment (+32 89 71 40 87).

Correspondence address: Holtstraat 34, 3620 Veldwezelt-Lanaken.