Beyond the scientist: Loes van der Zanden

Loes van der zanden.jpg

Loes van der Zanden, Postdoc at the department for Health Evidence

Where and when were you born?

I was born in Schijndel, a village “south of the rivers”, where people celebrate carnaval. So on Saturday February 12th (1983), my mother was planning to go celebrate carnavalwhen her water broke, and there I was.

Where do you live and with whom?

I met Tim, currently my husband, when I just turned 17 (during carnaval, by the way…). He is also from Schijndel, and we still live there with our two children Isa (4) and Tibbe (3).

Who was your role model when you were a kid?

Although I admire a lot of people, I never had a role model.

Why aren’t you doing the same thing now as your role model (or do you?)

I never really had a plan for the future, I tend to just “go with the flow” and make choices that make me happy at that moment. I studied biomedical sciences because I thought it was interesting to know more about the human body and I did not want to be a physician. I did not know what the future perspectives of a biomedical scientist were. Luckily, I really like my work.

What is the thing in your (work or other) history that you are most proud of?

My PhD study involved collecting DNA and questionnaires from hundreds of patients, which took an awful lot of time. Therefore, I did not publish any paper in the first three years of my PhD project, while all my former fellow students were accumulating their publications. Therefore, I am very proud about the fact that in the end, I published some really nice papers and I defended my PhD thesis cum laude.  

What is it that you would like to achieve in work in the next 5 to 10 years?

I just received a VENI grant. In the coming years I will be working on that project, but I would also like to extend the AGORA biobank (with DNA and questionnaires of children with congenital defects) to other hospitals participating in the European reference Networks eUROGEN and ERKNet. In addition, I would like to expand data collection to urine and possibly other biological samples, and I would like to setup studies into the etiology and prognosis of urogenital birth defects using these materials. My ultimate aim is to better understand the risk factors contributing to these disorders and to provide parents with better information about the prognosis of their (unborn) child.  

For what can we wake you up?

After a few years with two young children, it would be very nice if I would not be woken up for some time…

What is your hobby and how good are you at it?

I like running, although the amount of time I spend doing it is very variable. How good I am at it depends on the amount of time I spend on it. In 2011, I ran a full marathon in 4:07. Currently, I try to run 6 km twice a week, sometimes with my daughter cycling next to me.

What is your biggest irritation?

The amount of carbon dioxide humanity (including myself) is emitting every day.

Who would you like to invite for dinner, if you had the chance?

My husband, without children. It would be great to be able to actually have a conversation over dinner, rather than be urging the children to eat.

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