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: Till Mathan
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?
I always wanted to become a chef or a wildlife photographer. Cooking is kind of art and I love to improvise with the ingredients instead of sticking to known recipes. During my childhood I spent 3 years in Tanzania, which possibly influenced my second job wish slightly. To be so close to these exotic animals and watch, observe and learn about their behaviours had definitely a big impact on my further career. Due to my father’s profession we moved around within Germany very frequently. This brought us children into the situation to join a lot of different schools and to become “professionals” in integrating into new friend groups. That could explain my open minded personality.
3. What was your previous academic training, where did you study and why did you choose that study/those studies?
I finished my school in Koblenz at the Johannes Gymnasium by obtaining the high school diploma. Then I did my civil service for an organization caring for people with disabilities. After a year working as an ambulance man, I studied Biology in Nijmegen, followed by a master in Medical Biology also in Nijmegen and partly at the University of Oxford. My main motivation was to combine science with the medical research and to help translating these results into the clinic.
4. The RIMLS motto is ‘to understand molecular mechanisms of disease’. What does this mean for you?
My PhD is about dendritic cell subset and to understand the differences and the similarities among them. The knowledge we obtain from studying these cells on a RNA and protein level, but also how they interact with other immune cells, helps us to understand their characteristics more and more. And eventually, this could lead to the translation of these finding into the clinic and the improvement of anti-cancer immunotherapies.
5. Which international scientist inspires/inspired you the most? Please give a motivation why.
Of course I would first think of the most important and famous ones like Einstein, Charles Darwin, Galileo Galilei and the famous Arabic and Indian mathematicians and physicians. But more importantly, the general drive of scientists is a great example for me and this mindset to not accept the present, but questioning and thinking out of the box. In the past, plenty of scientists lost their lives because they followed their passion and were ahead of their time. Without those brave people, we wouldn’t be, where we are now. We as a society should always stay open and tolerant, but also be critical for new insides.
6. Which research discovery that you have made has made you most proud?
So far, I haven’t made that many research discoveries, but this summer we published a proteomics study about different dendritic cell subsets in “Cell reports”, which made me very proud. However, much more than any specific discovery, working in a department performing translational research possibly leading to the improvement of immunotherapies, makes me the most proud.
7. Given unlimited finance what experiment would you perform?
Given unlimited financial support I would definitely invest my time and effort into the improvement of immunotherapies. Especially, the high costs are a big issue and highly limit the research possibilities. Without any doubts, the future of successful cancer treatment lays in the combination of different immunotherapy approaches to tackle this incredibly complex disease.
8. What does your working area (desk, office) look like and what does it say about you (or your research)?
My desk doesn’t look very neat at all. Some pens, a pile of papers there … unfortunately, this is not linked to any genius talent. It just represents my interest in a lot of different projects, ideas and views.
9. Nominate a colleague to be in the spotlight and what would you like to ask him or her?
I would like to nominate Tom van Oorschot, because I would like to ask him: “Was hast du auf deinem Bemmchen?”
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?:
e) Shopaholic or chocoholic?:
f) Culture or Nature:
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