12 September 2019

My name is Laura Diepeveen, Dutch and I’m a PhD candidate at the Translational Metabolic Laboratory, 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. 

Definitely a dolphin trainer. However, when I got older, I lost some very important people in my life to cancer and I had the noble plan to find a cure for this disease. Although I already learned that this is slightly harder than anticipated, it has been my drive to become a biomedical researcher.  

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

I studied Molecular Life Sciences, here at the FNWI in Nijmegen. Since I was (and still am) terrible at choosing, it was very convenient that this bachelor was a combination of chemistry, biology and math. However, during these 3 years, I missed the translational/medical aspect and applied for the master Biomedical Sciences across the street, where I specialized in human pathobiology and toxicology with a minor in consultancy.

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

Working at the Translational Metabolic Laboratory, my main focus is the development and validation of assays to improve the diagnosis of iron metabolism disorders.  Therefore, I actively and directly try to use today’s molecules for improvement of tomorrow’s medicine. In fact, this is what I like the most about my PhD; being at the interface of research and patient care.

Who is your great example as scientists? And please give a motivation why.
My co-promotor Rachel van Swelm, as I think the way she can come up with new, creative research ideas, analyze results, think of explanations for unexpected findings, her way of teaching, always being positive but still down-to-earth and her concrete and clear way of formulating/writing is very inspiring.

Which research discovery that you have made has made you most proud? 
At the beginning of my PhD, we have developed a reference material that allows standardization of hepcidin assays worldwide. Hepcidin is a key regulator of iron metabolism and its measurement is therefore very important in the diagnosis of iron metabolism disorders. I’m really proud that standardization of this assay will significantly increase the success of hepcidin as a biomarker, as it allows the definition uniform reference intervals and decision limits, facilitating the translation of research to the clinic.

Given unlimited finance what experiment would you perform?
Currently, I’m also working on a project involving patients that have a genotype that not matches their phenotype. With unlimited finance, we could completely dive into their genetics to search for an explanation and may be able to develop a functional test for the future, using for example patient’s own stem cells.

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

My desk is really organized. I like to have structure and clear overview of all my projects. Therefore, I sort everything by project and have different maps for e.g. literature, protocols, ethical applications etc.

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

I would like to nominate Dirk den Braanker and ask him how he can always be so positive, motivated and really dedicated. I really admire that!

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?                         : Fiat 500, for sure
e) Shopaholic or chocoholic?     : Definitely both
f) Culture or Nature                     : Nature

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