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: Ghaith Bakdash
1. Name, nationality, current function, department & theme?
Ghaith Bakdash. Syrian-Dutch (Born and raised in Syria and spent the past 10 years of my life in the Netherlands).Postdoctoral research fellow at Tumor Immunology Department. Theme: Cancer development and immune defence.
2. When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up? Can you tell us something about your childhood years.
As a little kid I wanted to become a doctor to help people. My poor teddy bear suffered several surgeries because of that. As I grew a bit older, I wanted to become a pilot and see the world. Luckily, I managed to combine both desires by doing something through which I could help people and also see the world.
3. What was your previous academic training, where did you study and why did you choose that study/those studies?
By the end of high school I had great passion for chemistry and biology and I thought the best way to combine both was by studying pharmacy. That is why I hold a BSc degree in Pharmacy and pharmaceutical chemistry from Damascus University (Syria). Then I moved to Nijmegen and enrolled in the very first class of the Master’s program “Molecular Mechanisms of Disease”. Yes, I was one of the first three MMD students. I was very interested by the approach of this program: combining deep mechanistic understanding of different diseases and translating the gained knowledge into applicable therapies. During MMD, I found my passion: Immunology, namely: dendritic cells. So my next step was doing a PhD in the Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam (the group of Prof. Martien Kapsenberg and Prof. Esther de Jong), where I studied how dendritic cells could be utilized to induce immune tolerance. Still hooked to this passion, I moved back to Nijmegen (the lab of Prof. Jolanda de Vries and Prof. Carl Figdor) to do some more studies on Dendritic cells, but this time to induce immunity against cancer.
4. The RIMLS motto is ‘to understand molecular mechanisms of disease’. What does this mean for you?
If you want to solve a problem, any problem, you should get down to the reasons behind this problem. This also applies to diseases. Knowing the full story behind the development of a disease will yield possible ways of treating it. Off course, the picture is always complicated, which makes it even more fun to solve.
5. Which international scientist inspires/inspired you the most? Please give a motivation why.
I am quite inspired by students (I’m talking about those enthusiastic ones, not those who are busy playing with their smart phones). Their uncorrupted, unpoliticized and rather fundamental way of seeing things is very insightful. Their sheer enthusiasm and sincere faith in overcoming the biggest problems is just inspiring.
6. Which research discovery that you have made has made you most proud?
During my PhD I succeeded in establishing an in vitro model of intestinal dendritic cells and challenging a longstanding dogma about the role of retinoic acid in inducing regulatory T cells. Recently, I was so excited about characterizing a novel population that is involved in tumor-related immune suppression.
7. Given unlimited finance what experiment would you perform?
When it comes to cancer therapy, it has become clear that combinatorial approaches are needed for ultimate therapeutic effects. Since it is the era of cancer immunotherapy, I would put my money on combining different immunotherapy approaches, like checkpoint inhibitors along with dendritic cell therapy or T cell therapy. Another major obstacle is the lack of predictive measurements that could foretell the efficacy of applied therapies. I would also invest in defining predictive signatures for different anti-cancer therapies.
8. What does your working area (desk, office) look like and what does it say about you (or your research)?
“Organized” mess. It is quite busy, but I know where everything is. I think it reflects how things are going in my head.
9. Nominate a colleague to be in the spotlight and what would you like to ask him or her?
My fellow MMD classmate Dr. Wieteke Hoeijmakers. My question to her is: “what really got you into Malaria research”.
10. What type of person are you, quick insights:
|a) Mac or PC?:||PC|
|b) Theater of cinema?:||Playback Theater (it’s a sort of theater that I do)|
|c) Dine out or dine in?:||
In, if I’m the chef
|d) Ferrari or Fiat?:||
Anything on wheels
|e) Shopaholic or chocoholic?:||
|f) Culture or Nature?:||Culture
Fun-facts of Laurene Andre: C
State an interesting/obscure fact about yourself together with two that are false? Correct answer will be revealed to readers in the subsequent edition. Correct answer of Laurene Andre: C
A: I strongly detest the structure of avocados.
B: I absolutely cannot stand pancakes.
C: I believe cilantro is the most disgusting herb on earth.
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