28 May 2019

My name is Jack A Schalken and I am research director Urology, theme Urological cancers.

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

Initially an astronaut, I was 10 when Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon; soon thereafter I got access to a chemistry kit (‘scheikunde doos’), and then I knew I wanted to become a chemist!

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

Chemistry in Nijmegen, internships in biophysical chemistry and biochemistry/ molecular biology, then a PhD in molecular oncology. I enjoyed the experimental work, the organic synthesis skills that  I also use for my hobby, cooking (and eating of course).

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

Everything! The clinical unmet needs are so clear, certainly in diagnosing and treating cancer. Every time I am confronted with a victim of ‘’the emperor of all maladies’’, I feel sad that progress is so/too slow. So we have to work harder and strive to combat cancer as good as we can!

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

Dr Donald S Coffey (Johns Hopkins Hospital), I recommend everyone to view this video (https://vimeo.com/122939259), than you know why! Don confronted me in 1986 (in an hour) with the fact that as young molecular biologist I could choose between focussing on a gene- or a disease. I choose the latter and my time at Hopkins was enlightening, to be every week in meetings with Don, a true visionary. He changed my and many other scientists’  lives .

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

The identification of urinary biomarkers for prostate cancers that were successfully clinically introduced (2006, PCA3 and 2016 SelectMDx). 

Given unlimited finance what experiment would you perform?

Prostate cancer screening study with the unique tools developed at Radboudumc, i.e. mpMRI(radiology) and the HOXC6/DLX1 based urinary risk score (SelectMDx).

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

Clean (office)desk  and clean desktop (PC). I am quite well organized, although some of my friends and colleagues claim that a clean desk is a sign of a sick mind :-) 

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

Mihai Nitea; how do you keep all your projects alive and kicking? 
What type of person are you, quick insights:
a) Mac or PC?                               : PC
b) Theater or cinema?                 : Theater (concerts)
c) Dine out or dine in?                 : Dine in. 
d) Ferrari or Fiat?                         : Alfa Romeo
e) Shopaholic or chocoholic?     : Neither
f) Culture or Nature                     : Nature

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