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: Michiel van der Flier
1. Name, nationality, current function, department & theme?
Michiel van der Flier, Dutch, Consultant in Pediatric infectious Diseases and Immunology, Department of Pediatrics, Theme: Infectious Diseases and Global Health
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 child I initially wanted to become a veterinarian. But soon I changed my mind into wanting to become a medical doctor.
3. What was your previous academic training, where did you study and why did you choose that study/those studies?
Medical School at Utrecht University, as a student I had the opportunity to spend one year at Rockefeller University New York at the laboratory of molecular infectious diseases, and did a clinical obstetrics gynecology roatation in Durban South-Africa. Pediatric Training at UMCU - Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital and St Antonius Hospital Nieuwegein, PhD at Utrecht University, Subspecialty training at ErasmusMC-Sophia and Great Ormond Street Hospital London UK. I love the combination of caring for children and trying to unravel the mechanisms of health and disease. Infectious diseases and compromised immunity are a major issue in children around the world.
4. The RIMLS motto is ‘to understand molecular mechanisms of disease’. What does this mean for you?
Adding my own little pieces to help solve the immense puzzle of host pathogen interaction to help find better ways to identify children at risk of severe infections, to better diagnose infections and immunodeficiency’s and to find better treatments and preventive measures.
5. Which international scientist inspires/inspired you the most? Please give a motivation why.
Prof Mike Levin from Imperial College London. Curious and driven scientist and a very fine person whom I have the privilege to work with in the EUCLIDS and PERFORM projects. He has the ability to enthuse people with his way of describing the exciting search of scientific discovery in pediatric infectious diseases. Secondly Prof Elaine Tuomanen from St Jude Children’s Research Hospital Memphis Whom I worked with for a year as a student at Rockefeller University. She has a wonderful clarity of thought and conceptualization. And she is still an inspiration to me when designing an experiment or writing a paper.
6. Which research discovery that you have made has made you most proud?
The recent discovery made together with my PhD student Erika van der Maten and others that serum levels of complement Factor H determine the risk of invasive pneumococcal diseases.
7. Given unlimited finance what experiment would you perform?
Many experiments! For one I would do a full epigenetic analysis of different tissues in Ataxia telangiectasia one of the immunodeficiency syndromes often resulting in antibody deficits with risk on pneumococcal disease to further unravel the molecular mechanism of this disease to hopefully find potential targets for effective treatment.
8. What does your working area (desk, office) look like and what does it say about you (or your research)?
Personal artworks reproductions of and patients drawings on the wall above my desk (despite formal flex work places) and a clean desk. I enjoy a personal touch and organized workplace to settle in my working space and to work productively.
9. Nominate a colleague to be in the spotlight and what would you like to ask him or her?
Jakko van Ingen one of the medical microbiology colleagues I work with. What is most intriguing about mycobacteria to you?
10. You are nominated by Jeroen Langereis. What is your answer to this question?
Haemophilus influenzae or Streptococcus pneumoniae? And why?
Streptococcus pneumonia. This major childhood pathogen still causes devastating meningitis in children world wide. Due to the >90 different capsular serotypes as of yet no full proof vaccine has been developed to prevent pneumococcal meningitis. A lot is already known about this pathogen by studies resulted in insights including the identification of DNA as the carrier of inheritable characteristics, but still not all secrets of this pathogen and its interaction with the human host immune system are understood.
11. What type of person are you, quick insights:
a) Mac or PC:
b) Theater or Cinema:
Netherlands Dance Theatre is the best, but love cinema
c) Dine out or dine in:
Love good home cooking but also enjoy De Nieuwe Winkel
d) Ferrari or Fiat:
Love to once drive a Ferrari! But was happy with my Fiat Punto.
e) Shopaholic or chocoholic:
f) Culture or Nature:
Nature for peace of mind, culture for inspiration
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