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: Dorien Feyaerts
1. Name, nationality, current function & department?
My name is Dorien Feyaerts, Belgian (Flemish, not French) and I am a PhD student at Laboratory of Medical Immunology, Department of Laboratory Medicine, theme Inflammatory Diseases
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 florist because I liked growing plants and flowers.
3. What was your previous academic training, where did you study and why did you choose that study/those studies?
I studied Biomedical Sciences at the KULeuven (BE). My favorite subjects during high school where maths, chemistry and biology and biomedical sciences combined all these topics. During my studies I developed an interest in immunology so for my master internship I investigated if a vitamin D analog could be used to differentiate and expand functional Treg in vitro, not only with T cells derived from healthy controls but also from type 1 diabetic patients. With this expansion method these patients could get autologous Treg therapy.
The amount of internships you do in Leuven is quite limited and to get some more experience before starting a PhD, I decided to first work as a Research Technician in a small Biotech company (Apitope) that develops peptide therapies for autoimmune diseases.
4. The RIMLS motto is ‘to understand molecular mechanisms of disease’. What does this mean for you?
The immune system is a complex interplay of numerous molecular mechanisms and is far from understood. It needs to be unraveled piece by piece to solve the puzzle. My research is focused on understanding how the mother tolerates the fetus during pregnancy and how the local uterine immune environment contributes to the development of the placenta and the neonate. Understanding the mechanisms behind this tolerance and development in healthy and complicated pregnancies will help to find treatment options for women who suffer from pregnancy complications like recurrent miscarriages.
5. Which international scientist inspires/inspired you the most? Please give a motivation why.
I think women like Marie Curie are great examples of scientists. They paved the way for women to pursue a scientific career and for more diversity in the scientific community.
6. Which research discovery that you have made has made you most proud?
During my time at the biotech company we developed a peptide therapy that induces tolerance and reduces the amount of autoantibodies in Graves’ disease. This drug is now in preclinical development, ready to enter clinical trials. It is nice to see that something you helped developing is about to change people’s life.
7. Given unlimited finance what experiment would you perform?
The dream! A complex puzzle needs to be tackled by using the knowledge and expertise of people with different backgrounds. So I would setup collaborations and create a big research group to study the mechanisms in healthy and complicated pregnancy in further detail.
8. What does your working area (desk, office) look like and what does it say about you (or your research)?
Organized chaos; a pile of papers to read, labjournals, project folders with results, some notes and a to do list.
9. Nominate a colleague to be in the spotlight and what would you like to ask him or her?
Yessica Alina Rodriguez Rosales. Mexico or the Netherlands? What can we learn from each other?
10. What type of person are you, quick insights:
a) Mac or PC:
b) Theater or Cinema:
c) Dine out or dine in:
d) Ferrari or Fiat:
I don’t care, as long as it gets me from A to B
e) Shopaholic or chocoholic:
f) Culture or Nature:
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