A Personal Touch of Markus Loeven

Markus Loeven.jpg

Please learn more about colleagues in our "Personal Touch" series setting employees in the spotlight. A light-hearted manner to learn about the colleagues you know and those you don't!.

This week: Markus Loeven






1. Name, nationality, current function & department?
Markus Loeven, German, PhD student, Department of Nephrology, Theme: Renal disorders

2. When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up? Can you tell us something about your childhood years
When I was in school, I wanted to become a lawyer. Fortunately I did an internship at a law office first, where I quickly realized that the job entails much more filing and other boring tasks than I had expected. After that, I became interested in biology and chemistry (much more exciting).

3. What was your previous academic training, where did you study and why did you choose that study/those studies? 
I have studied and worked in Nijmegen for almost 10 years now. I originally started with a bachelor in Molecular Life Science at the Radboud University, but when I discovered a previously unknown fondness for math and physics, I switched to Natural Sciences within the first month. After that I got my master’s degree in Molecular Mechanisms of Disease, which allowed me to stay in Nijmegen while still experiencing a more international atmosphere (we were 12 students from 9 different countries and it was awesome).

4. The RIMLS motto is ‘to understand molecular mechanisms of disease’. What does this mean for you?
I definitely feel more connected to the “molecular mechanism” than the “disease” part of the RIMLS motto. I enjoy working on complement because it is essentially a purely mechanical system, in which proteins have their defined purpose and interact like the gears in a machine, which ultimately has a profound biological effect (cell lysis). On the other hand, the complement-associated diseases I am working on are quite devastating and frequently affect small children, and that knowledge definitely helps to keep me motivated.

5. Which international scientist inspires/inspired you the most? Please give a motivation why.
I don’t really idolize any specific scientist, but I admire the researchers who originally investigated  and characterized the complement system, particularly the alternative pathway, such as Michael Pangburn or Moh Daha. I occasionally like to dig through their publications from 30-40 years ago and what they’ve been able to achieve with the limited methods they had available back then is quite impressive.

6. Which research discovery that you have made has made you most proud? 
Over the last 3 years, we have been developing an assay that allows us to screen the activity of complement factor H on pretty much any kind of human cell (which turned out to be much more difficult than anticipated). We still need to do a bit of optimization and validation, but once the protocol is published, it is probably going to be that.

7. Given unlimited finance what experiment would you perform? 
I would characterize the heparan sulfate biosynthesis machinery , which involves dozens of different enzymes that generate structurally defined and highly complex sulfated carbohydrates. The whole system is most likely so complex, it would take virtually unlimited finance to fully characterize it.

8. What does your working area (desk, office) look like and what does it say about you (or your research)?
Cluttered… I like to work on lots of different experiments simultaneously, but I don’t always like to clean up afterwards. But in my head I know exactly where everything is.

9. Nominate a colleague to be in the spotlight and what would you like to ask him or her? 
I would like to nominate my dear friend Vicky Luna-Velez. Can I stop worrying about prostate cancer yet?

10. What type of person are you, quick insights:
a) Mac or  PC:

PC (I prefer to handpick every piece of hardware)
b) Theater or Cinema:
c) Dine out or dine in:
Dine in
d) Ferrari or Fiat:
As long as it has four wheels and gets me from A to B in a reasonable time (I drive a 15 year old Vauxhall/Opel)
e) Shopaholic or chocoholic:
Neither, but if I have to choose, I’ll go for the chocolate
f) Culture or Nature:

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