Research Annual Report 2021 Graduate School


Our aim

The primary aim of our Graduate School is to optimally train our PhD candidates as professionals in the field of biomedical sciences. Here, examples are presented of activities within our Graduate School that aid in achieving our goals.

Vlog by our PhD candidate Cas Boshoven

We had an exceptional high number of Cum laude PhD graduates this year. Cas Boshoven is meeting three of these young sucessful scientists to learn about their journey. video

Vlog by our PhD candidate Cas Boshoven



Cum laude promotions for nine PhD candidates

This year RIMLS had a record number of Cum laude PhDs. read more

Cum laude promotions for nine PhD candidates

Record in Cum laude PhD's in 2021:

Theme Infectious diseases and global health

  • Isaie Reuling, The Use of Controlled Human Malaria Infection As Fit-For-Purpose Model In The Fight Against Malaria.
  • Joep Joosten, Mechanistic insights into the piRNA machinery in Aedes mosquitoes.
  • Jona Walk, Diversity of protective immune responses in human malaria.
  • Laura de Vries, Steepen the Curve: The Potential of Pantothenamides in Malaria Control.
  • Rob ter Horst, Impact of host and environmental host factors on immune response heterogeneity.

Theme Tumours of the digestive tract

  • Ilja Diets, Genetic childhood cancer predisposition. Towards better detection and understanding.
  • Judith Grolleman, Identifying and characterizing hereditary polyposis and colorectal cancer: Mutational signatures of defective base excision repair.

Theme Cancer development and immune defence

  • Inge Wortel, Secrets of T-cell crowds: How complexity emerges in T-cell repertoires and T-cell migration.

Theme Inflammatory diseases

  • Marilen Benner, Changing perspectives on uterine immunity.

Our Cum laude PhDs in 2021

'In the Lead' of your PhD a throwback to this course

The RIMLS Graduate School course 'In the Lead' provides new PhD candidates with insights, tips and tricks to be at the forefront of their research and training objectives. read more

'In the Lead' of your PhD a throwback to this course

The February and June editions of the introductory course of 2021 were organized online. With a bowl of home-microwaved popcorn, participants worked on personal development from a comfortable chair at home. The introductory course is called “In the Lead of your PhD”, and tried to do exactly that: put PhD candidates in the lead of their own learning process by discussions, assignments and coaching by peers.

This online course was very interactive: PhD candidates discussed with supervisors what they expect from their PhDs and vice versa. All supervisors put a lot of effort on team science, in line with new developments in Recognition and Rewards of researchers and the way the new research institute is heading in the Fit-for-the-Future direction, where the basic unit of research is a research group.  

The candidates coached each other in pairs on how to master certain competences necessary for a PhD, which gave valuable and practical ways to learn during the PhD trajectory. Also, the participants found their own strengths and elaborated on how they can use these strengths for a successful PhD.

''In the Lead'' participants June 2021

The third ''in the Lead course'' in October 2021, was held at the beautiful location Soeterbeeck, an ancient convent. Under supervision of Wim Bierman, 19 PhD candidates participated in the plenary and group meetings. The aims of this introductory course were:

  • To make PhD candidates aware that they are responsible for their PhD track. Therefore, the focus of this program is how PhD candidates can be in the lead of their PhD. They explore what drives their work as a researcher. Moreover, with supervisors, PhD candidates discuss each other's expectations. 
  • As PhD projects have challenges, PhD candidates are asked to reflect upon how they apply to each individual PhD track. Using ‘Strengthsfinder’ the attendees discover their own talents and how to use them to their advantage.
  • Finally, PhD candidates interact and network with peers.

Thanks to the enthusiastic support of the supervisors Rene Bindels, Clasien Oomen, Bert van der Reijden, Sander Leeuwenburgh, Nicole van der Kar, Judith Schaart, Lotte Tholen and Wim Bierman, this meeting was very well evaluated by the participants.

''In the Lead'' participants October 2021

4th ENABLE symposium a big success

RIMLS PhD candidates co-organized this unique event with three other European research institutes (IRB Barcelona, CPR Copenhagen, SEMM Milan), which was facilitated by a competitive Horizon 2020 grant. read more

4th ENABLE symposium a big success

This 4th European PhD and Postdoc symposium “EXPLORING LIFE DYNAMICS: In and out of equilibrium”, organized by and for young researchers, was held completely online. ENABLE aims to involve young scientists in opening the academic world from within by promoting crosstalk between biomedical disciplines, collaboration with industry, and engagement with society. ENABLE 2021 took place in Milan, albeit only virtually, and was a great success.

ENABLE (European Academy for Biomedical Science) is an initiative funded by the European Union Horizon 2020 programme that involves four renowned European Research Institutes (IRB Barcelona – Spain, RIMLS – Netherlands, NNF CPR – Denmark, SEMM – Italy) and an innovative science communication agency (Scienseed). ENABLE seeks to promote excellence in the biomedical sciences in Europe: supporting young researchers, strengthening scientific careers, and bringing biomedicine closer to society.

Poster awards ENABLE for Kest Verstappen and Daan 't Hart

59 posters were presented online during the conference. Kest Verstappen (theme Reconstructive and regenerative medicine) and Daan ’t Hart (theme Renal disorders) each won the prize for their poster session. Kest presented his poster entitled “Graphene-based biomaterials as potential inhibitors of astrogliosis”. Congratulations to Kest, Frank Walboomers (PhD promotor) and Sander Leeuwenburgh (head Regenerative biomaterials)! Daan’s poster presentation carried the title ”Say NO to podocyte injury: An (e)NOS-NO-sGC-cGMP-TRPC6 pathway as putative novel treatment target” and was highly valued by the jury and other participants. Daan is a PhD candidate in the group of Johan van der Vlag and Tom Nijenhuis.

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement n° 724115) 

RIMLS participates in EU project ENABLECARES

Through the EU project ENABLECARES, our PhD candidates can further enrich their transferable skills, in particular in entrepreneurship and open science. read more

RIMLS participates in EU project ENABLECARES

The Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences participated in the ENABLECARES project, funded under the Science with and for Society Programme of Horizon 2020, the EU Framework programme for research and innovation. Started in February 2021 and coordinated by IRB Barcelona, ENABLECARES will deliver high-level PhD training in open science, entrepreneurship and other relevant transferable skills to young scientists in Europe.

ENABLECARES will allow its four partners to enrich their transferable skills course catalogue with state-of-the-art training on advanced competencies increasingly demanded by emerging professions. Training curricula in entrepreneurship and open science will be established through co-creation and train-the-trainers strategies based on the expertise of IRB Barcelona and Radboudumc & Radboud University. Participants will benefit from a combination of face-to-face workshops and online contents as well as the support of local career advisors to personalise their training itineraries.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101006361.

Supervisor of the year Gerald Verhaegh

Excellence is shown in many ways, and excellent supervision is something we should all strive for. We are proud to have colleagues within RIMLS who take on the role of supervisor with great dedication and enthusiasm. read more

Supervisor of the year Gerald Verhaegh

The supervisor of the year award is organized by the RIMLS PhD Council.

A great tradition, because excellence is shown in many ways, and excellent supervision is something we should all strive for!

The PhD council invited PhD candidates to submit a motivation why their supervisors deserve to be elected as a superhero of the RIMLS. From these nominees, the three best-ranked supervisors were selected:

All RIMLS PhD candidates were invited to vote for these nominees. After an exciting neck-to-neck race Gerald Verhaegh, Urological cancers, was elected as Supervisor of the Year 2021! 

Joep Joosten received best PhD thesis award

The winning thesis was entitled: ‘’Mechanistic insights into the piRNA machinery of Aedes mosquitoes’’. read more

Joep Joosten received best PhD thesis award

The doctoral thesis is a proof of the ability of the PhD candidate to perform independent scientific research. Yearly RIMLS gives an award to the most outstanding thesis.

The winner of the RIMLS PhD thesis: Joep Joosten Mechanistic insights into the piRNA machinery of Aedes mosquitoes.

RIMLS PhD retreat

This year's RIMLS PhD retreat was an online event, combined with the New Frontiers symposium. Organized by and for RIMLS PhD candidates, the retreat was again received with great enthusiasm of the attendees. read more

RIMLS PhD retreat

How much we were all longing for an old-fashioned RIMLS PhD retreat full of science, workshops and fun! In normal years, the RIMLS 2-day PhD retreat was held in April. But in this special year 2021, the PhD retreat was held in combination with the New Frontiers Symposium as an online edition once more. During this online PhD retreat, final year PhD candidates shared their work in a talk and an online workshop was organized. All other PhD candidates could present their work in a poster session during the New Frontiers symposium.

This year, the 36 final year PhD candidates gave an oral presentation during multiple ZOOM sessions with 8 varying topics: Immunology, Cancer, Microbiology, Medical Advances, Metabolism & Diabetes, Genetics, Renal Disorders and  Surgery, Dentistry & Arthritis. The quality of the presentations was very high, as was visualized by the voting for “Best Presenter of the Day”, which all retreat participants could take part in. Eventually, two exceptional presenters were selected via this voting system, who received the presentation prizes: Julia van Tuijl and Abbey Arp. 

Additionally, halfway the retreat day, a professional trainer taught the participants all tricks for online presenting in an engaging way during a well-attended workshop. During the workshop the trainer invited everyone to annotate the shared presentation with comments, notes and questions, which made the workshop very interactive. At the end of the day, participants could also join an online Life Science Bingo with fun prizes. Overall this online PhD retreat was a success, with approximately 180 participants.


Most popular Meet the Expert by Heidi Schigt

The Meet the Expert meetings highlight a particular scientific technique in an informal setting. read more

Most popular Meet the Expert by Heidi Schigt

Meet the Expert sessions are organized to allow you to address your questions in an informal setting to expert colleagues. These meetings are coordinated by RIMLS PhD-candidates in collaboration with Radboudumc experts in order to help you to start using a technique or to tackle your problems. The workshops are aimed at PhD candidates and postdocs and are open to all Radboudumc researchers including (laboratory) technicians.

The meetings are increasingly well attended online and the most popular Meet the Expert in 2021 was again:

  • Adobe Illustrator course organized by expert host Heidi Schigt