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: Bartijn Pieters
1. Name, nationality, current function, department & theme?
Bartijn Pieters, Dutch, PhD-candidate at the Dept. of Experimental Rheumatology, theme Inflammatory diseases.
2. When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up? Can you tell us something about your child years.
I was born here in Nijmegen, 26 years ago, and lived most of my childhood in a small town just across the Waal. Me and my friends had large plans back then, we were going to travel the world as archaeologists, zoologists and botanic researchers. I would be doing the research and uncover new animal and plant species deep in the forests of a far-away land. This turned out to be a rather large challenge for a bunch of 10-year olds, however the research mentality is still here to this day.
3. What was your previous academic training, where did you study and why that study?
After finishing high-school my main interests were in biology and physics and I was looking for a degree that would eventually lead into a career as a scientific researcher. I moved to Leeuwarden to start my Bachelor degree in Biotechnology, where I spend four years focussing on molecular life science and genetics. My final year I spend abroad as a intern at the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, in Melbourne, Australia. During this internship I got a taste for the PhD-career and had my own project studying T-cell involvement in Rheumatoid Arthritis. After obtaining my Bachelor degree, I moved back to Nijmegen where I started my Masters degree and simultaneously started working as a researcher at the Experimental Rheumatology department at the RIMLS (NCMLS back then), studying the role of extracellular vesicles in arthritic diseases. During my next internship I spend another year abroad, this time to work on uncovering novel DNA sensing mechanisms in immune cells, at the La Jolla Institute For Allergy and Immunology, in San Diego, US. After returning to Nijmegen once again I continued my research at the department working on extracellular vesicles.
4. The RIMLS motto is ‘to understand molecular mechanisms of disease’: Today’s molecules for tomorrow’s medicine. What does this mean for you?
As a researcher who primarily focuses on fundamental research, unravelling how extracellular vesicles are involved in health and disease is my main goal. However, the research is not limited to only working on mechanisms of disease, but also utilizing these vesicles as potential biomarkers for disease and attempting to modify them into medical tools for the future. Once we know how these vesicles are involved in disease, we can start working towards tomorrow’s medicine.
5. Who is your great example as scientist? And please give a motivation why.
An obvious answer would be one of the many great scientists that walked the earth before I was even born, however, for me personally I chose someone closer to home. During my first internship I had the pleasure of working with a very talented and dedicated PhD-candidate, Tommy, who showed me what it takes to become a successful PhD camdidate and scientist. During many late nights, and midnight visits to the nearby Subways we would discuss our research and our results (both of our science and our in-house student football team).
6. Which research discovery that you have made has made you most proud?
A couple years back we made the discovery that the transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) is present on extracellular vesicles isolated from commercial milk. This discovery led to my first publication and a presentation at the annual extracellular vesicle meeting (ISEV).
7. Given unlimited finance what experiment would you perform?
Given unlimited finance, and time, I would perform a large-scale proteomic analysis of blood-derived extracellular vesicles from patients suffering from different stages of arthritic diseases hoping to identify potential disease biomarkers and gaining a better insight in how the cargo of these vesicles differs between patients and disease stages.
8. What does your working area (desk, office) look like and what does it say about you (or your research)?
My desk is somewhat messy from time to time, with a large pile of unread literature which keeps stacking up. The rate of new publications and findings in this relatively new field is very high, which to me suggests there is still loads to learn and discover. This gives me a good drive to keep going and look for new and innovative ways to contribute to the field of extracellular vesicles.
9. What type of person are you, quick insights:
a) Mac or PC? : PC
b) Theater or cinema? : Cinema
c) Dine out or dine in? : Dine in
d) Ferrari or Fiat? : Gazelle (bicycle brand)
e) Shopaholic or chocoholic? : Chocoholic
f) Culture or Nature : Nature
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