20 March 2018

My name is Lucas Bernts, I’m Dutch (and 50% German) and currently working as a Physician / PhD candidate at the Dept. of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, theme Renal disorders.

When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up? Can you tell us something about your child years. 

When I was a kid I always wanted to become a biologist. One of my grandparents’ neighbours was a retired biology teacher and we used to walk through his big garden that was full of little critters, squirrels, birds and rare tree frogs. For a long time he was quite the inspirational figure to me, and definitely triggered my interest in biology.

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

I studied Medicine at the Radboud University here in Nijmegen, I really like medicine because it gives the opportunity to combine research and clinical work with patients. Besides studying in Nijmegen, I did a research internship at the University of California – San Diego during my Bachelor’s and I also did one clinical internship at the ICU in Unna, Germany.

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

Many physicians focus more on the medicine than the molecules, however it’s also important to see the process of development before any therapy becomes applicable in the clinic. Good translational research is key to improvements in healthcare.

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

Barry Marshall, who was given an Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2005. In experiments with pigs, he discovered that gastric ulcers were caused by H. pylori bacteria and not stress or spicy foods. However, at first no one believed him. Then, in his final and very convincing experiment, he drank a broth of concentrated H. pylori bacteria himself and developed extensive ulcera that were positive for H. pylori within 3 days. Now that’s what I call dedication!

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

During my Master’s research internship I was able to grow esophageal and tumor organoids in the lab and test toxins on the organoids. I think organoids can really change healthcare and also reduce the necessity for animal models in science.

Given unlimited finance what experiment would you perform?

 As I’m now researching an autosomal dominant genetic disease, it would be great to look for a true curative therapy for these patients, for example with gene editing.

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

Lots of written notes and always some coffee cups on my desk.

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

Elmar Pieterse, when can we start clinical trials with NETs as a target in SLE patients?

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?                         : Ferrari, but preferably German cars.
e) Shopaholic or chocoholic?     : Chocoholic
f) Culture or Nature                     : Nature

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