Dávid dreams of curing his own disease: ‘I’ve experienced what medicine can do’

Dávid Duda is currently in Nijmegen for his exchange semester, as the first student of one of HAN’s most recent partner institutes: the IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems. Dávid’s semester in Nijmegen marks another step in the pursuit of his dreams of becoming a scientist, and aiding towards the treatment of incurable diseases. Like the one he was diagnosed with himself.

ATBC-uitwisselingsstudent David Duda

“Wait, there are mountain bike trails around here?”, asks Dávid Duda (20) surprised. The Slovakian student grew up in a town close to the mountains, so he is used to outdoor activities like long hikes and mountain biking. “I didn’t expect that to be a big thing here as well.”

Dávid studies Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at the IMC University of Applied Sciences in Krems, Austria. This institute is one of the more recent partners of the HAN, and Dávid is the first student coming to Nijmegen for an exchange semester Life Sciences. 

Having arrived here just a month ago, he is still getting acquainted with his new surroundings. “So far I’ve mainly been getting to know the university, and settling documents. I haven’t really looked around yet.” The existence of challenging mountain bike trails is a positive surprise for Dávid, who is a sports fanatic. “I usually try to be active every day”, he says.

An impactful diagnosis

This focus on a healthy lifestyle didn’t appear out of thin air. Just over 3 years ago, Dávid started experiencing mobility problems. “I was walking like I was drunk. And it got worse, until the point where I couldn’t walk at all anymore and ended up in a wheelchair. It all happened quite suddenly, and my physique was deteriorating quickly.”

For two weeks Dávid stayed in the hospital, where he was diagnosed with Multiple Scleroses (MS). Which came as a shock, of course. But luckily, Dávid responded greatly to the treatment. “I received an acute treatment with corticosteroids, and I’m on antibody treatment for the long term. I’m completely okay now, I haven’t had any complications so far. And yea, I decided to change my diet and become more active, because studies say it can help.”

Besides watching his health, this scary experience also boosted Dávid’s motivation to pursue his lifelong dream. “Ever since I can remember, I wanted to become a scientist. When I was young, it felt unimaginable. Like something that was only possible for the smartest people in the world. Later I found out that isn’t true, and that it is actually relatively ‘easy”, he says with a smile.

Clear direction

Where the young Dávid simply wanted to become ‘a scientist’, his own diagnosis suddenly gave a clear direction to that dream. “I want to help people by treating complex diseases. To aid towards curing diseases that are currently called incurable, by inventing new medication. I’ve experienced first-hand how much a medical treatment can do for someone.”

Dávid’s ambition brought him to start his Bachelor’s degree in Krems, and in his 2nd year he decided on an exchange semester in Nijmegen. “I mainly chose it for the general experience of going abroad. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people and learn about other cultures. And it’s also good for your career prospects, of course.”

On a first name basis

Because of the partnership between the two universities, Dávid had no problem finding housing. He got a spot in the SSH& building Vossenveld. And regarding the education program at HAN, he also likes what he sees so far. “The style is very different from Austria. We work in smaller groups, and the teachers call you by your first name. It’s much more personal, I like it.”

Not everything is better at HAN than at his home institute, though. “In Austria we use one website, one application for everything. Grades, hand-ins, course information. Here there are different website for everything.” He starts laughing. “I’ve never used bookmarks in my browser before, and now I believe I have 10 of them.”

Want to know more about the exchange program? Send an email to minor.atbc@han.nl

Photo David van Haren