31 October 2019

My name is Marlies Cornelissen, a Dutch senior pediatrician, specialised in pediatric nephrology, and working for almost 25 years at the department of Pediatric Nephrology of the Amalia Children’s Hospital, 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? 

"I grew up on a milk-farm in the neighbourhood of Breda as the only daughter with 4 brothers, so never a dull moment : ). I knew from the start that I didn’t want to run a farm, and later on discovered I wanted a career in healthcare. I doubted whether I could become a medical doctor myself, whether I wanted to study so long for that; I never regretted a day I did so."

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

"I went to the Catholic University Nijmegen in 1981 to study Medicine, and after my cum laude graduation accepted a PhD position at the Dep. of Ped. Nephrology. I defended my thesis om my 30th birthday. I think I did well, because they allowed me to start the 5 yrs training for paediatrician and thereafter 2 yrs for specialisation in nephrology.  This job is what I ever wanted; the combination of clinical, research and educational duties, all in one day. For an academic ped. nephrologist Nijmegen is the best place to be; so why moving?"

The RIMLS motto is: ‘Today’s molecules for tomorrow’s medicine’. What does this mean for you?
"This means to me that we all work together to improve treatment for patients with (renal) diseases; To have a significant impact on healthcare."

Who is your great example as scientists? And why?

"Prof.dr. Leo Monnens educated me in pediatric nephrology; in patient care ├índ science. I did my PhD – about vitamin K-  under his inspiring supervision.  I don’t know another person who knows so much about everything and is so dedicated to research, his whole life long (he is > 80 yrs now and still involved in research)."  

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

"I am proud om my KLEINE KiNT project, which made it possible to transplant small children under 4 years of age with an adult kidney; this means that these children do not have to do dialysis for some years, but can be transplanted directly with a kidney from their parents. The youngest child so far was 1,5 yrs old when she received a kidney from her mother. Also the discovery of a novel hypokalemic-alkalotic salt-losing nephropathy due to pathogenic CLDN10 mutations affecting TAL paracellular ion transport makes me proud."

Given unlimited finance what experiment would you perform?

"I would grow kidneys out of stem cells."

What does your working area look like and what does it say about you or your research?

"My desk is pretty neat, I like to have things in order. I think I am pretty well organised, which does not mean that I reach every deadline!"

Nominate a colleague to be in the spotlight:

"I would like to nominate Michiel Schreuder and learn from him how he faces the challenge of combining research with clinical duties."

What type of person are you? Quick insights:

a) Mac or PC?                               : PC
b) Theater or cinema?                : Theater
c) Dine out or dine in?                : Both
d) Ferrari or Fiat?                         : I like my Ford Smax most
e) Shopaholic or chocoholic?     : Undoubtedly chocoholic
f) Culture or Nature                     : Nature

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