Tell us a bit about yourself
I am Dutch, happily married and have two children aged 11 and 9. I have a background in veterinary medicine and pharmacy and almost a decade of experience in clinical research and regulatory affairs in pharmaceutical industry. I’ve obtained a PhD in orphan drugs, examining the challenges faced in clinical development of treatments for rare diseases. In this role, I have gained extensive experience in setting up and supervising multi-centre clinical drug research, prepare regulatory documentations and submissions, and establishing and maintaining close collaboration, especially with academic partners. I started at EATRIS 6 years ago as a training project manager and later became Scientific and Education manager. I have just returned from a one year secondment at the European Medicines Agency where I fulfilled the role of academia Liaison.
What is your role within EATRIS and what does a typical week look like for you?
In my current position as Scientific and Education Manager at EATRIS, I support the development or EATRIS training strategy and create and organize related online and in person training activities. The main target of our training activities are young professionals, e.g. PhDs and Postdocs, but we also develop content for the (senior) Translational Research community including our nodes.
I also have rare diseases in my portfolio and support researchers to increase the impact and patient benefit of their translational research projects in rare diseases.
My work week is a typical mix of internal and external meetings, taking care of emails, desk (research) time for EU projects and looking for synergies and funding opportunities. I also spent quite some time on developing training activities and communication materials as well as handling the logistical aspects of training events.
What has been the highlight of your EATRIS experience so far?
First and foremost, I am proud member of EATRIS C&S team, and I love being part of such a dedicated and passionate team that achieves big successes by working closely together.
One of my highlights is probably the set up and launch of EATRIS’ own virtual learning platform Transmed Academy, and running our first edition of ‘Translational Medicine Explained’ (in short TMex) Winterschool. The course consists of an introductory e‑learning followed by a 5-day face-to-face workshop, to support biomedical researchers to gain better understanding of translational research and medicines development
What is translational research for you?
Any mechanism that can facilitate and speed up the process of generating better and more efficient treatments for patients, e.g. connecting the right expertise to the right tools, resources and facilities and building long lasting and strong partnerships that will generate impactful and sustainable results for patients and healthcare.
Why did you decide to work in the translational medicine field?
To be honest, when I started at EATRIS 6 years ago, I had barely heard of Translational Medicine, but the idea of educating people like myself to perform better in science was what ignited a spark in me at the time I applied for the job of training project manager at EATRIS. I had just finished my PhD thesis on the clinical development of orphan drugs and was so frustrated about the gap between academia, industry and regulators, that I wanted to start making a difference.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Everything happens for a reason and it’s okay to wander off the beaten track. Some hard paths will lead to the best destinations eventually, literally and figuratively. Just have faith and follow your own instinct and beliefs.
What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
Being creative e.g. drawing or baking, especially the latter, which I prefer to call ‘baking-therapy’, it helps me keep my sanity 😊 Every Thursday is my dedicated day for baking, making anything from cakes and macarons, to decorated cookies or cupcakes. Getting in touch with my right-side of the brain on non-working days really helps to recharge the battery and I could highly recommend this to others!
If you were a drug, vaccine or diagnostic, what would you be and why?
A diagnostic, to help identify and understand diseases as early as possible, especially in the field of paediatric rare disease.
What would surprise people to know about you?
I once jumped out of a plane (yes of course, with a parachute), in New Zealand, and it was such an amazing experience that I literally ran back to the plane when I landed to go for another jump 😊.