A Personal Touch of Martijn den Brok

Brok, Martijn den Personal Touch.jpg

Please learn more about colleagues in our "Personal Touch" series setting employees in the spotlight. A light-hearted manner to learn about the colleagues you know and those you don't!.

This week: Martijn den Brok






1. Name & Nationality
Martijn den Brok, Dutch, Dept. of Tumor Immunology, theme Cancer development and Immune defence. 

2. When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
 When I was a kid, I wanted to become a fire-fighter

3. What was your previous academic training, where did you study?
I am pretty Nijmegen-oriented, as I did my Bachelor and Master’s studies in Nijmegen, as well as my PhD. My study Biomedical Health Sciences gave me a basic training in (patho)biology, toxicology and health monitoring. I did my PhD in the Tumor immunology lab, where I was working with tumor models in mice, trying to learn about the immunological consequences of various surgical tumor-ablation techniques. After my thesis defense, I went for two years to the company Synthon, but I missed the academic world and therefore returned to my previous lab.

4. What is your current function and what would you like to achieve?
I am currently working as a post-doc in the group of Gosse Adema at the Tumor immunology lab. We work together with various companies and other labs, a mix of academic and corporate that I like very much. We try to bring more detailed immunological insights in how various compounds or treatment modalities from the companies actually work. Our goal is to take the things that we learn from this to a higher level, so we can exploit them in general anti-cancer treatments.

5. The RIMLS motto is 'to understand molecular mechanisms of disease'. What does this mean for you?
This motto highlights the fact that fundamental research can be key to finding a cure for certain diseases. But it also works the other way around: if you understand how a certain medicine works, you can start to improve this medicine. At the moment I am studying so-called lipid bodies that appear when antigen presenting cells are exposed to a very promising vaccine adjuvant. We also showed that this adjuvant can be successfully applied in anti-cancer vaccination, and that the lipid bodies are essential for this effect. When in the future we would be able to modify the lipid body composition, we could possibly increase the strength of the vaccine.

6. What is the biggest motivation in your work?
Curiosity is a big motivator in my work. It’s very exciting to be one of the first persons in the world ever to test if something is really working like you predicted it.

7. What is your dream for the future?
I hope that in the near future, cancer-immunotherapy will be a valuable and realistic treatment alternative for cancer patients.

8. Fun-facts. State an interesting/obscure fact about yourself together with two that are false? Correct answer will be revealed to readers in the subsequent edition.
A: I can yodel
B: I play in a famous band, and at our performances I dress up as my alter ego ‘Martina’
C: I have walked the Nijmeegse Vierdaagse three times

Correct answer will be revealed to readers in the subsequent edition.



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