7 June 2018

My name is Elke Muntjewerff, Dutch and I am working as a PhD candidate at the department of Tumor Immunology, theme Cancer development and immune defense.

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 grew up in Nijmegen and was always playful as a kid. I loved to go outside and besides that I was very interested in cooking. No surprise there that I wanted to be a cook. Later on I became interested in research. 

What was your previous academic training, where did you study and why that study? 

For my bachelor biomedical sciences I moved from Nijmegen to Utrecht. I was highly interested in all processes in the human body, but I didn’t want to become a medical doctor. In Utrecht you could also follow a minor to obtain your teacher’s degree. So, besides the normal bachelor program I have also been teaching biology for a year. However, during the bachelor I was mostly interested in the working of the immune system. So afterwards I continued with the master program ‘Infection & Immunity’. Here I could follow specialized courses and had the opertunity to work at the La jolla institute for allergy & Immunology in San Diego, US. After my master I worked in Switzerland at the Inselspital until I could start my PhD here at the RIMLS.

The RIMLS motto is: ‘Today’s molecules for tomorrow’s medicine’. What does this mean for you? 

Although the way from the lab to the clinic is long I still think that it’s a wonderful thought that we can translate molecular research into treatment of patients.

Who is your great example as scientists? And please give a motivation why.

My previous supervisor Gustaf, because he showed me how special the research is that we are able to perform. He also showed me the fun of performing research and that besides the hard work it’s also really important to keep a balance between your social life and working is important to keep you focussed. He is now starting his own lab, which I really admire.

Which research discovery that you have made has made you most proud? 

So far I have only been working on projects for a short time, so the real discoveries have to be confirmed in the future. However, I am most proud of my in vivo imaging data of T regulatory cells and CD8 T cells in diabetic mice.

Given unlimited finance what experiment would you perform?

I would perform in vivo imaging to be able to study the exact interactions of T cells and dendritic cells in the lympnodes. Besides that I would hire more technicians to have more super experienced people working on the projects, which makes the research go faster. In the end it might then contribute to the clinical trials on the department.

What does your working area (desk, office) look like and what does it say about you (or your research)?

Organized chaos… My desk is full with papers, protocols, a very big agenda and a lot of colourful sticky notes. I am probably the only one who can find something back on my desk, but it does work for me.

You are nominated by Inge Wortel. Her question is: I would ask her what the secret is behind her famous “woo”-factor.

Haha, of course this is secret! For those who don’t know what WOO is it’s a kind of likability or ‘gunfactor’, which we found out I had during the ‘in the lead’ course for PhD’s. I guess I have it because I really like to interact with people. I really care what they do and how they feel and that probably gives you credit.

Nominate a colleague to be in the spotlight and what would you like to ask him or her?

Martin Ter Beest! I would like to ask him how he performs his perfect westernblots.

What type of person are you, quick insights:

a) Mac or PC?                                : PC
b) Theater or cinema?                 : Theater
c) Dine out or dine in?                 : Dine out
d) Ferrari or Fiat?                         : Ferrari
e) Shopaholic or chocoholic?     : Chocoholic
f) Culture or Nature                     : Nature​ 

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