4 April 2019

I’m Glenn van Wigcheren, a Dutch (Friesian :-) ) PhD candidate at the Dept. of Tumor Immunology within the 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. 

Growing up in a rural area was great and comfortable but I’ve always aspired for more. I loved to learn about everything and always wanted to become a medical doctor. Later I realized that science is more exciting!

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

I studied Biomedical Sciences in Nijmegen where I became fascinated by the immune system. Therefore, I moved to Utrecht to study Infection & Immunity and later to Amsterdam to dive into oncology and tumor immunology.

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

To investigate how tumor cells negatively affect immune cells on a molecular level to be circumvented for the benefit of future cancer immunotherapy. 

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

I’ve never had a great example but I can definitely relate to Charles Darwin’s “thinking path”. Currently, I’m inspired by my mentor Sander (see below). 

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

I’ve had the opportunity to study how a S. Aureus toxin targets the immune system of horses. In the process I discovered its molecular receptors and that human cells are also susceptible!

Given unlimited finance what experiment would you perform?

I would try to establish a large database containing all available information regarding immune cells in human tumors. This database could be used to computationally model tumor-induced immunesuppression critical for mechanistic studies as well as therapeutic predictions!

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

My desk is organized in a couple stacks of paper (literature, protocols, plans) per topic and there’s a string of post-it notes with instructions or ideas. I think I like to keep subjects separated and efficiently keep track of what I’ve did or thought per topic.

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

Sander Leeuwenburg, how did you managed to simultaneously finish a PhD and your studies at the music academy? What were the (dis)advantages of doing it that way?

What type of person are you, quick insights:

a) Mac or PC?                                : PC
b) Theater or cinema?                 : Better yet a concert!
c) Dine out or dine in?                 : Home-cooked meals
d) Ferrari or Fiat?                         : Ferrari
e) Shopaholic or chocoholic?     : White chocolate
f) Culture or Nature                     : Nature

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