A Personal Touch of Jeroen van den Beucken

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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: Jeroen van den Beucken






1. Name, nationality, current function, department & theme?
Jeroen van den Beucken, Dutch, assistant professor, Dentistry – Dept. Biomaterials, theme Reconstructive & regenerative medicine.

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 kid, I wanted to become a farmer (breeding and meat production of Blanc Bleu Belge cows). Unfortunately, that was not possible due to the lack of land (and the already decreasing meat prices at that time). Subsequently, I aimed to become a veterinarian, but the ‘numerus fixus’ system in NL kept me out (I joined the ‘lottery’ for a total of 6 times!). Along the way, I became more and more interested in the (biological) functioning of the human body, which led me to study medical biology. After all, I still breed cows as a hobby and I love my current job that allows me to interact with people from different disciplines to propel bone regeneration based on biomaterials and cells!!!

3. What was your previous academic training, where did you study and why did you choose that study/those studies? 
As indicated, I studied medical biology here in Nijmegen, as I became interested in the biological processes underlying the aspects of life.

4. The RIMLS motto is ‘to understand molecular mechanisms of disease’. What does this mean for you?
In my opinion, that motto needs to be expanded to include ‘understanding the molecular mechanisms of regeneration’: in view of the widespread use of biomaterials (from natural or synthetic origin) in regenerative medicine, the interaction of cells with and the response of cells to such biomaterials is of utmost importance for effective (clinical) regeneration. Understanding the molecular mechanisms (from both a biology and material perspective) is what is necessary to aid in the regeneration of lost tissues and regain function.

5. Which international scientist inspires/inspired you the most? Please give a motivation why.
I attended a lecture of Christopher Chen, who with fantastic slides and a simple narrative explained his explorations on the effect of mechanics on stem cell behavior. That was the most extreme and fascinating scientific presentation I have ever seen. Such work is tremendously encouraging for a continuous improvement in harnessing endogenous stem cells for tissue repair.

6. Which research discovery that you have made has made you most proud?
I do not perform research as an individual, but as a member of a research team. Except for minor breakthroughs from separate projects (e.g. elucidating the effect of macrophage subtype on osteogenic differentiation of adult stem cells), the major discovery is the full development, characterization, pre-clinical evaluation, and now clinical testing of an injectable and resorbable calcium phosphate cement. This is a team effort that has been achieved over a period of ~15 years and has really been an interdisciplinary quest (both from a scientific and industrial point of view).

7. Given unlimited finance what experiment would you perform? 
Simple experimental set-ups with simple experimental steps usually provide the largest impact. However, given the long time and numerous experiments performed to reach clinical tests for injectable and degradable calcium phosphate cement, it is far from reality to perform 1 single experiment to achieve a single goal. With unlimited finance, it would become possible to focus on both the fundamental and translational aspects of cell-cell interactions to improve bone regeneration. In more detail, I would like to focus the experimental work on actual cell signaling involved in the interactions between immune cells and regenerative cells and the practical implementation of this knowledge in pre-clinical animal models and, if succesful, in subsequent clinical trials. If finance really would be unlimited, arranging valorization would be a desirable final step.

8. What does your working area (desk, office) look like and what does it say about you (or your research)? 
Depends on the time of the year; before holidays (summer or X-mas), I tend to clean up my desk…

9. Nominate a colleague to be in the spotlight and what would you like to ask him or her? 
Jan-Willem Hoekstra: Do you brush and floss your teeth and finalize with mouth water (twice a day)?

10. What type of person are you, quick insights:
a) Mac or  PC:
b) Theater or Cinema:
Depends on the show/movie
c) Dine out or dine in: 
Dine out
d) Ferrari or Fiat:
Depends on the type of vehicle (Ferrari also sells tractors and Fiat sells sports cars)
e) Schopaholic or chocoholic: 
f) Culture or Nature:

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